Proposed tax boosts ‘cautiously approved’

The B.C. Liberals’ pre-election budget has met with cautious approval from officials with Surrey and White Rock business organizations.

The B.C. Liberals’ pre-election budget proposes to implement income tax increases on businesses and higher-income individuals, similar to proposals from the NDP opposition.

It has met with cautious approval from both the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce and the Surrey Board of Trade for a “fiscally responsible” approach, though neither organization is enthralled by an increase in corporate taxes.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong’s budget, tabled Tuesday, raises the corporate income tax rate one point to 11 per cent effective April 1, accelerating by a year an increase announced in 2012.

NDP leader Adrian Dix has repeatedly promised to increase the corporate rate to 12 per cent, where it was in 2008. Also in the budget, personal income taxes for those earning $150,000 or more would rise 2.1 per cent to 16.8 per cent for two years, starting next January. That increase is to be rolled back to the current rate of 14.7 per cent in 2015, de Jong said.

Dix has indicated that if the NDP forms government, he would impose an income tax increase for those earning $150,000 or more a year, with specifics promised in the NDP election platform.

With a provincial election set for May 14, this budget will not be passed by the time the brief legislature session ends in late March. Its measures are part of a campaign platform for Clark’s government, and the winner of the election must pass a budget in the fall.

That fact was noted by Cliff Annable, executive director of the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce. Annable said the budget acknowledges realities that have to be addressed, no matter the outcome of the election.

“Budgets are only a forecast of what the future will be,” he said, adding, that an increase in the corporate income tax seems inevitable.

“They reduced it a number of years ago, so the reality is that it will be back where it was. As a business organization, we’re not overjoyed that it’s raised but the reality is that in order to fund the things that are close to our hearts, like education and health care and roads, the government has to get the money from somewhere.”

Annable said he also has “never had a problem” with people making a higher income making more of a contribution in taxes.

“They’re fortunate to be able to live in a country that gives them the opportunity to make that kind of money,” he said.

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, said in a statement that “the one percent increase (in corporate taxes), although not welcome, should not be too onerous.”

She added that the board was pleased there is no increase in the small-business tax.

– with files from Tom Fletcher

Peace Arch News