Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “the only certainties in life are hockey strikes and taxes.”
First, the bad news: there’s a lot of truth in that. The NHL lockout shows no signs of stopping, and more to the point, in a few short months, you’ll receive your income tax notices.
But here’s the good news—as a resident of British Columbia, you’re paying among the lowest provincial income tax rates in Canada. I can’t speak to your federal income taxes, of course.
But under this government, B.C. has the lowest provincial personal income taxes in Canada for individuals earning up to $120,000, and an individual can earn at least $19,000 before paying any provincial income tax. It’s not just personal income tax either. Corporations make for convenient scapegoats, but the vast majority of working British Columbians are employed in our healthy private sector. This wasn’t always the case in B.C. Since 2001, we’ve reduced the corporate income tax five separate times, for a total reduction of almost 40 per cent. The corporate income tax rate in B.C. is among the lowest of all G7 jurisdictions.
This is absolutely essential. A low-tax environment promotes economic growth—one of the main reasons B.C. has weathered the global economic slowdown better than most jurisdictions.
For example, consider our Training Tax Credit Program. It provides tax credits for employers and apprentices engaged in eligible apprenticeship programs administered through the Industry Training Authority.
But it’s not just about low rates—it’s about helping people. For example, the government offers seniors a home renovation tax credit of up to $1,000, which they can put towards structural changes such as hand rails, ramps, walk-in bathtubs—changes to help them stay in their own homes longer, whether they own or rent.
Why? There are good, economic reasons. By helping seniors stay in their homes longer, it reduces demand for care homes. But it’s also the right thing to do.
As another example, the Children’s Fitness and Children’s Arts Credits, both for up to $500 in eligible expenses per child. Again, there are economic reasons for doing these. For example, encouraging kids to get and stay active leads to healthier lifestyles, which in turn results in lower costs for B.C.’s health care system. But again, it’s also the right thing to do.
One more example: in last year’s budget, our government announced a first-time new home buyers’ bonus. Effective through March 31 of next year, first-time buyers of newly-built homes are eligible for a cheque of up to $10,000. Again, there are sound economic reasons for this, first and foremost to support the new-home construction industry. But it’s also about giving young families a helping hand as they build their future together —just maybe, in a new house.
Steve Thomson is the Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Mission (www.stevethomsonmla.bc.ca).