Last week, the BCA released a report suggesting the provincial government introduce a sales tax and bring back the carbon levy to help increase revenue and shrink Alberta’s growing debt.
The report goes on to say that the province overspends and doesn’t tax enough compared to other provinces.
Now, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is lashing out at the report calling it completely tone deaf.
“If you look at the report they’re pushing for types of taxes where businesses can pass the costs down to their customers,” said Alberta director Franco Terrazzano. “It seems like business executives are calling for higher taxes, but the of taxes that are going to be sticking families with the bill.”
@taxpayerDOTcom These CEOs are so worried about the government’s debt problems they felt compelled to write a report about how Albertans need to pay higher taxes to help pull the province out of a sea of red ink.https://t.co/FhCGjf8rc5 pic.twitter.com/OnARfg1fSI
— The Buffalo Tribune (@TribuneAlberta) February 22, 2021
Alberta is the only province without a sales tax and reaction from Albertans has been mixed, with various points of view covering all sides of the debate.
“As an Albertan, I would be very sad to see the introduction of an HST but the fact is it’s high time that we do bring in that sales tax and as far as a Carbon Tax goes, I think that’s probably recognizing the world is moving in that direction,” said economist Moshe Lander.
The report notes an eight-per-cent sales tax would amount to $7.2 billion in annual revenue collected from Albertans, about $1,600 per person.
“You need to find more stable sources of income so that the government doesn’t need to go from feast to famine,” added Lander. “So I think that’s the big selling point”
Just hours after the report was released, Premier Jason Kenney rebuked the calls for a new tax adding his government will not consider it.
Alberta’s budget will be tabled at the end of the week, and we already know it won’t contain any new taxes.
“In some ways, this would have been the budget to bring it in. We’re still a couple years out from an election so the government has a bit of time to recover from what would probably be a pretty significant public backlash,” said Lisa Young with the School of Public Policy.
But with a fiscal situation made worse by COVID-19, this paper could be the first real signal a shift in thinking in the coming years is inevitable.
“This might be one of kind of the last dominoes to fall then and maybe break that wall that the government is now going to be prepared to discuss it for real,” said Lander.
For Terrazzano, the big issue with the report is that the BCA includes over 90 chief executives from across Alberta that saw their corporate tax rates cut many times under the current UCP government.
“If these business executives think that Albertans aren’t paying enough taxes, if they have this money lying around, they can feel free to write a cheque to the provincial treasury before they go after struggling families.”
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), over the past year, about 90,000 Albertans working in the private sector lost their job and nearly 35,000 businesses are still at risk of closing their doors for good.
The CTF is calling for a reduction in government spending, instead of taxation to address Alberta’s deficit problem.
–With files from Jonathan Muma, CityNews