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

Masks are now compulsory at all Prince Rupert public facilities and the City reminds people to discard used masks in waste bins, a media release on Oct. 29 said. (Photo by K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Mandatory mask-wearing effective immediately at city public facilities

City of Prince Rupert makes masks compulsory to protect community health and safety

North Coast home-grown ice talent Carly Edwards from Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert takes centre ice on TV competition show Battle of the Blades Thursday nights at 8 p.m., with her partner NHL partner Kris Versteeg. (Photo supplied)
Local figure skater spotlights on TV show’s centre ice

Prince Rupert’s Carly Edwards is featured on TV competition show Battle of the Blades

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
PHOTOS: Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

B.C. Ferries is still providing ferry service between Tsawwassen and Victoria, 60 years later. (File - Black Press Media)
Ferry sailings cancelled for Oct. 29th and 30th

BC Ferries announces technical difficulties on Northern Expedition

Technical difficulties with the recording and broadcast of the Oct. 26 Prince Rupert City Council meeting mean residents were unable to watch on TV or online happenings in the meeting. (The Northern View file photo)
Technical difficulties leave public unable to access City Council meeting

Summary brief of Prince Rupert City Council meeting

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

A study by SlotsOnlineCanada notes there is at least 88 hours of top-rated horror movies for Canadians to consume this Halloween. (Unsplash)
Spooks and Chill study reveals Canada’s favourite horror flicks

88 hours of top-rated horror movies can fill COVID-19 Halloween

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Most Read