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Election 2017: Provincial candidates diverge on taxes

B.C. families generally have one of the lowest overall tax burdens in Canada, according to Liberal candidate Steve Housser.

B.C. families generally have one of the lowest overall tax burdens in Canada, according to the Cowichan Valley riding's Liberal candidate Steve Housser. It's his government's aim is to keep it that way moving forward, should his party maintain control of the government after the May 9 provincial general election.

"The BC Liberals are committed to controlling government spending to keep taxes as low as possible yet still providing the social services we all need," he said. "Unlike the other parties, the BC Liberals are not guided by a 'tax and spend' philosophy that sees rising taxes, higher provincial debt that eventually leads British Columbians to paying more but getting less."

Housser noted B.C. has the lowest personal income tax for those making up to $125,000 and workers can earn almost $20,000 a year without paying any income tax.

"Already two million British Columbians pay no MSP premiums and another two million will have their premiums cut in half," he said.

Independent socialist Eden Haythornthwaite believes the current system favours the rich.

"We have to make sure that the wealthy pay their fair share which I don't believe they're doing at this time," Haythornthwaite said. "If you have policies in place for people to have decent incomes and employment, that the taxation doesn't fall the heaviest on the people that can least afford it, that is actually a much greater benefit to stimulation of the economy and allows prosperity to range throughout everyone rather than just a few."

She'd like to see the elimination of all sales and consumption taxes "because they are by their very nature regressive because they fall in exactly the same fashion on everybody so if you make $30,000 a year you pay exactly the same sales tax for something as someone who makes $250,000. That's crazy."

Taxation should be fair and transparent, says independent candidate Ian Morrison.

"I believe most people are hardworking and honest and willing to pay their share of taxes, provided the tax system is fair and transparent," he said. "Government services should be delivered efficiently and equally to us all."

He doesn't believe the current system does that.

"Government shouldn't give $40,000 tax breaks to the wealthiest British Colombians while nickel and diming working people with higher cost fees and charges," Morrison said. "What good is a break on our paycheque if they just charge us increasing Hydro rates and government service fees?"

Morrison said in serving nine years in local government, he's worked hard to keep taxes in check for teachers, seniors, single parents and working families.

"I've managed to keep tax increases to a minimum," he said.

NDP candidate Lori Iannidinardo said this election is about creating an economy that works for all. "I am hearing from voters that they want an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy," she said, adding her party has a plan "and a more equitable tax policy is an essential part of that plan."

The NDP vows to eliminate MSP premiums, institute a $15 minimum wage, return sustainable jobs to the island, cancel tax cuts and loopholes for millionaires and create $10 a day childcare.

The NDP aims to ensure fair, responsible economic and tax policies to create a sustainable clean-growth economy, she said. "John Horgan has pledged to provide a rebate on the carbon tax to low and middle income families and to invest a portion of the provincial carbon tax revenues directly into climate change solutions," she said.

Libertarian candidate James Anderson says more accountability is needed with regard to how tax dollars are spent in B.C., and on what.

"There is debt to be payed before funding pet projects with taxes," he said. "I see in the latest budget, the province plans to spend $40 million in grants for hybrid and electric vehicles; why should average British Columbians be subsidising people who can afford to buy new cars? Another $40 million will be spent on rural internet connectivity. That's $80 million dollars that would be better left in the pockets of taxpayers where it belongs."

Taxes are too high "and there are too many of them," Anderson added. "The carbon tax should be the first to go. The government is taxing the air, maybe it's just me but that is ridiculous."

Green Party candidate Sonia Furstenau wants an overhaul of the current system in favour of a fair and transparent one that doesn't favour the rich.

"Your MSP premiums, your Hydro bills, your ferry tickets, your ICBC costs all have gone up considerably over the last 16 years, and all are ways that government generates revenue in a manner that impacts lower and middle-income earners far more than they impact high-income earners," she said, adding, "it is crucial that governments tax fairly and wisely, and focus on providing the best services to all citizens of B.C."

Furstenau noted BC Greens have called for the elimination of MSP premiums, believing revenue for health care should be collected through a progressive income tax. The party also wants to end the Site C project and its associated increasing Hydro rates.

Sarah Simpson

About the Author: Sarah Simpson

I started my time with Black Press Media as an intern, before joining the Citizen in the summer of 2004.
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