National Post (Latest Edition)

‘Revenue neutral’ lies again

- Kris Sims Kris Sims is the B. C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The nationally vaunted “revenue-neutral” B.C. carbon tax has finally taken off its mask. It is now j ust another bare- f aced tax grab designed to pinch money from residents’ wallets and plunk it into government coffers.

The new B.C. government made the announceme­nt during its mini- budget presentati­on in Victoria recently, stating that the B.C. carbon tax would increase to $50 per tonne by the year 2021, a full calendar year ahead of the federally imposed schedule. It will also no longer be “revenue neutral.”

In fact, the B.C. carbon tax hasn’t been “revenue neutral” for British Columbians for several years. In February, the Fraser Institute reported that the then Liberal government was using pre- existing tax credits to make the carbon tax seem revenue neutral. With credits removed from the balance sheet, the carbon tax stopped being “revenue neutral” back in 2013-14, and was hitting British Columbians with a cumulative tax increase of $ 865 million, or $ 728 per family of four. The B. C. Liberals subsequent­ly removed some of the older credits to attempt to bring the tax back into balance for their final budget. The newly elected NDP government has altogether abandoned the charade of making the carbon tax appear revenue neutral.

Ratepayer watchdogs, including the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, had long warned that revenue-neutral carbon taxes might be revenue neutral for government­s, but that they’re never revenue neutral for families. With Ottawa now requiring all provinces to keep raising taxes on carbon, we are on the path to ever- increasing taxes under the guise of stopping global climate change, and B.C. is leading the way.

How much will this national carbon-tax experiment cost users of carbon? The Trudeau government has that informatio­n, but it is refusing to release it. Internal federal government documents recently obtained by the investigat­ive news outlet, Blacklocks Reporter, show that the federally forced carbon tax of $ 50 per tonne, set to be in place by the year 2022, will cost western Canadian crop farmers $3,705 per year and will do nothing to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

Crop farmers use diesel to operate their combines to harvest grains and seeds. A $50-per-tonne carbon tax will tack an extra 13.5 cents per litre of diesel, whose price is already comprised one-third of existing taxes. An intriguing part of the documents obtained by Blacklocks Reporter is that the federal government has determined that farmers in Saskatchew­an have already been reducing their carbon dioxide emissions without a carbon tax. The magic lever wasn’t government. It was the scientific innovation of more efficient machinery, better soil management and better plant genetics, managed by people who know their land best: the farmers and business owners themselves.

What about people who aren’t farmers? How much are carbon taxes going to cost them? It’s difficult to get a straight answer out of government, but reports say it will cost drivers 11.6 cents more per litre of gasoline and it will take an extra $50 per month away from people in B.C. And double that for folks in Nova Scotia who depend more on coal and oil for power and heat. Those are just preliminar­y estimates, of course, and it would be naïve to think that when government­s get rolling, it won’t wind up costing more than expected.

For those who want to believe that these imposed carbon taxes are only meant to curb our deplorable behaviour, such as the sin of driving a fossil- fuelled car, consider what’s happened in the state of Washington. There, the government cheered on environmen­tally conscious drivers who worked hard to reduce their use of gasoline. Citizens are car- pooling, moving to transit corridors and buying more fuel- efficient vehicles to skip paying at the pump. But then the government’s bean counters realized that all that reduced gasoline consumptio­n could see gas tax revenues fall by 45 per cent in the next 18 years. So now the state is looking at exploring “road- usage fees,” also known as tolls, also known as taxes, to tax those who can’t be taxed for their carbon use.

The moral is this: Taxes are always just taxes, dollars taken away from people by government. The government — whether those elected or in the bureaucrac­y — is just a collection of well-paid people with varied political opinions and varied expertise who get to decide how to spend your money and alter your behaviour. And government will continue to grow and spread and demand more taxes — using any reason it can think of — until it is pruned back by fed-up ratepayers and voters.


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