ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Black Press Media has taken an in-depth look at three major issues in the 2019 federal election campaign: energy and climate change, taxation and the economy, and housing. Our second topic: taxation

Even the central economic policy of the Justin Trudeau government remains hotly disputed as voters begin casting ballots in the Oct. 21 federal election.

In their only English-language debate for the federal election on Oct. 7, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer sparred over tax measures that observers say are similar.

Trudeau’s signature policy since 2015 has been helping the “middle class and those working hard to join it,” reducing middle-income taxes while increasing them on the highest-income earners. His government lowered the rate for the middle-income bracket from 22 to 20.5 per cent. The 2019 Liberal platform promises to raise the level of federal tax-free income to $15,000, estimating it will save the average family $600 a year.

Scheer’s plan cuts the rate of the lowest tax bracket (up to $47,630) from 15 per cent to 13.75 per cent over four years, claiming average savings for a two-income couple with average salaries of about $850 a year.

In the Oct. 7 TV debate, Scheer said Trudeau’s tax policies mean 80 per cent of middle-class families pay more than when the Liberals took office. This often-cited figure comes from a Fraser Institute study, which calculates the effect of the Liberal government eliminating income splitting for couples with children, and cancelling the previous Conservative government’s targeted tax credits for children’s fitness, education, textbooks and transit.

RELATED: B.C.’s top income tax rate nears 50%, investment tax highest

RELATED: Trudeau says Ottawa open to B.C. refinery as fuel prices soar

The study calculates that the net effect of Liberal changes is $840 per year more in federal tax for the average family.

The Conservatives were the last major party to release their costed platform, promising changes that would save a retired B.C. couple $2,580 a year. The Liberal campaign fired back immediately, saying the Conservative plan scraps $18 billion in planned infrastructure, and cuts another $14 billion described only as “other operating expenses reduction.”

Scheer has promised to reinstate the fitness tax credit, up to $1,000 per child, with another $500 credit for children’s art and learning, which includes language, science, math or coding. Scheer has also promised a two-year tax credit program worth $1.8 billion for green-friendly home renovations, a promise the Liberals matched later the same day with an interest-free loan program for energy-saving renovations.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s platform targets the highest-income earners, promising to raise the top income tax rate for those earning more than $210,000 a year from 33 to 35 per cent. Singh also promises a one-per-cent “wealth tax” on “super-rich multi-millionaires,” those with $20 million or more in assets. The NDP says the wealth tax will generate “several billion dollars annually,” an estimate questioned by opponents who say the wealthiest people can shelter their assets and income.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May offers little in personal tax changes, other than increasing the tax credit for volunteer firefighters and search and rescue volunteers. The Green platform focuses on corporate taxes, proposing to raise the rate from 15 to to 21 per cent. May also wants a five-per-cent surtax on bank profits, and a tax on transnational e-commerce companies such as Netflix, Facebook, Amazon, Google and Uber that do business in Canada and pay no corporate tax here.

See our first story in the series: Climate strikes make environment top of mind for federal leaders

The third and final piece in our federal election series, to be published on Friday, is on housing.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Geotechnical work set to get underway at Rossland Museum

Crews will be working at the museum from June 1 to 12

City of Rossland asks motorists to be mindful of four bears roaming around Trail hill

The bears have been seen multiple times along the highway this month

Young farmers find a home through land-matching program

Young Agrarians links would-be farmers with landowners who have land to spare

Morning start: A history of the Arrow Lakes

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Wednesday, May 27

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Most Read