Tax hikes begin to bite

IF YOUR take home pay packet is a bit lighter as the new year moves along, you're not alone.

A range of provincial and federal tax increases is nibbling away on net incomes.

These increases include B.C.'s Medical Services Plan, federal Employment Insurance premium and Canadian Pension Plan contributions.

In the works as well are BC Hydro rate increases and this summer, for property owners, increases in municipal taxation as local governments charge more.

Medical Services Premium bills are higher compared to last year, from $128 monthly per family in 2012 to $133 per family in 2013 — a 24 per cent increase over the last three years according to a release from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

For MSP, this is the fourth straight Jan 1st with an increase,” said the federation BC director Jordan Bateman.

Take home pay for British Columbians will shrink this year as well as those grossing more than $47,400 will pay $51.50 more in EI premiums yearly. Their employers will pitch an additional $71.61.

And anyone earning more than $51,100 will pay $49.50 more in CPP contributions this year with employers matching that amount as well.

The problem with these taxes is it makes it more expensive to employ people,” said Bateman, adding this is especially true for small businesses with tighter margins. “It may be the difference of the hiring of another person which is a bad thing because we want to get as many people into the workforce as possible.”

BC Hydro is also upping its prices with a 2 per cent rate increase taking effect April 1st, costing the average homeowner $36 more yearly according to the release.

This, however, is less than last year's 9 per cent rate increase.

The region's natural gas utility, Pacific Northern Gas, also hiked its costs in January.

Terrace's city council proposed a 2 per cent increase to its tax-revenue base during preliminary budget deliberations last fall, with that increase pending on budget finalizations in the next few weeks.

Whatever increase comes out of budget finalization will be seen July 1st, when property taxes are set to be paid.

And then there's the coming switch back to PST. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has speculated that switch could involve business tax increases, a carbon tax hike, lower personal tax exemptions and yet another MSP raise in the future.

Compounding tax increases of various kinds are more and more recycling fees.

Even those buying Christmas lights this past holiday season may have noticed specific eco-fees for miniature bulbs.

And in preparation for the upcoming income tax filing season, taxpayers received letters from the Canada Revenue Agency saying it won't provide individual tax return information packages any longer.

Instead, the agency says people, at their own expense, can download forms or file electronically. General income tax packages can still be picked up at post offices.





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