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Introduce an Alberta Sales Tax says business group

Last Updated Feb 18, 2021 at 7:21 am MST

(CREDIT: iStock Photo)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Once again, the question of whether Alberta should have a sales tax is being raised as the province prepares to deliver its next budget.

Ahead of the budget’s release on Feb. 25, the Business Council of Alberta (BCA) believes the province needs to boost its revenue streams with new taxes.

The group is recommending a provincial sales tax and reintroducing the carbon levy which was removed by the Kenney government in 2019.

The BCA said Alberta has a revenue and expense problem and has undertaxed and overspent for years, and the debt is racking up putting Alberta’s fiscal sustainability in jeopardy.

Despite the recommendations, Premier Jason Kenney is quickly shutting down the idea of new taxes saying it’s the worst time for government to demand more and reach into taxpayer’s pockets.

“We’re already coping with huge financial stress. Unemployment, incomes down. This would be the worst possible time to ask people to pay more.”

Kenney added the UCP’s next budget will focus on what matters the most for Albertans at this critical time.

“The focus of the budget will be protecting lives and livelihoods, investing in health care, protecting the people from the pandemic and its economic consequences. We ran on a commitment to create a tax reform panel.”

That tax reform panel is expected to be up and running by the end of this legislative term.

This is not the first time the idea of a sales tax has been presented as many economists, business organizations and lobby groups have appealed for a PST as a way to help balance the books and save public services.

In Dec. 2019, a report from the University of Calgary School of Public Policy noted a harmonized sales tax (HST) would provide an efficient, stable and non-volatile revenue source.

The report also called for cuts to corporate income taxes, reintroducing the carbon tax and consider a middle-class personal income tax cut.

During the 2019 election campaign, one political party, the Alberta Liberals proposed the idea of a PST. Recently, the party unveiled an updated financial platform that called for the introduction of an HST, cuts to corporate tax and increasing the tax-free limit to $57,250.