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2015 B.C. Budget Commentary©

On 17 February 2015, B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong tabled his budget. Three years in a row, this 2015-16 budget surplus hits $879 million, nearly double earlier forecasts. The following is a summary of the tax highlights. The information contained herein is current as of the last revision date below.

Personal Tax Changes

Business Tax Changes

Other Changes

lopsided generosity BC budget
Source: policynote.ca

Remarks

The budget does not contain any general corporate or personal income tax rate changes. While provincial debt continues to rise to an estimated $70 billion, the $879 million surplus is not be used to pay down the debt. The Finance Minister said that debt is expected to be paid down in 2016-17 if there is a surplus. Running a surplus does not mean that the province is prospering. Job market remains weak. Many families continue to struggle with economic insecurity and poverty and live on pay cheque to pay cheque. Our colleges and universities keep raising tuition fees and yet are delaying necessary building repairs due to lack of funds.

Critics of the budget complain that the richest 2% of British Columbians are getting 17 times more (or $227 million) with the phase out of the tax bracket at $150,000, while poor people receive relatively much less ($13 million due to the elimination of claw-back on child support payments). The middle class receives little benefit from this budget.

The B.C. Government alleges that the province continues to have one of the lowest overall tax burdens in Canada when all taxes are considered — including income tax, consumption tax, MSP premium and payroll tax. This statement on the last page of the "Balanced Budget 2015 Highlights" shrewdly left fee burdens and transit levy outside. While overall tax burdens in B.C. may be the lowest, the overall costs of living is certainly not. High real estate prices in the Lower Mainland render housing not affordable to young people. Furthermore, the B.C. government tends to shift tax burdens to fee burdens (such as toll fees on bridges, high post-secondary tuition fees, transit levy outside income tax returns). This amounts to creative accounting method is misleading financial statement users.

Another disturbing tax issue outside this budget is the Transit Referendum scheduled in March 2015. Please click the link (in blue text) to view our comments on this issue.



[This page was added on 18 February 2015, last revised 6 March 2015.]