A new petition demanding the provincial government eliminate the Port Property Tax was launched on Sept. 9 by a Prince Rupert group calling themselves Scrap the Tax Cap Citizens Coalition (STCCC).
The objective of the call to action is not just to ensure port industries pay their fair share of taxes, but also to bring attention to the matter as an election issue, a press release and email from the organization to The Northern View reads.
“Prince Rupert has been disproportionately impacted by the Port Tax Cap (PTC). Despite now being the third largest port complex in Canada with over $60 billion in annual trade, Prince Rupert is facing a $600 million infrastructure deficit plus some of the highest residential and business taxes in the province,” the group stated.
“We think you should care about covering the issues to pursue the question: will the Province of B.C.(specifically Finance Minister Robinson’s department) keep allowing tax breaks for wealthy multinational corporations at the expense of its own voters and tax payers?
“This question obviously has significant implications for the ongoing municipal elections. We think every candidate for public office should be asked to provide a firm stance on this issue,” the email stated.
The port tax which was adopted by the B.C. Liberals in 2004 set a maximum mill rate for certain port terminals. While it was originally designed as a five-year incentive to spur port investment, the PTC was later made permanent.
“Most capped port terminal assessments are declining as they depreciate the value of their assets. Therefore, the cap on the mill rate means most port terminals are paying less property taxes almost every year. As port industries pay less, homeowners and small businesses are being forced to bear more of the tax burden to make up the difference,” the presser reads.
In a supporting letter alongside the media statement, the group explains this process is how Prince Rupert, with a residential population of 13,000, now has a $600 million deficit.
“In Prince Rupert, while home assessments have gone up 116 per cent since 2013, port industries are paying 19-27 per cent less property taxes today than they were a decade ago. In most cases, these facilities are owned by multinational corporations with hundreds of billions in annual revenues and are headquartered in other countries,” the letter reads.
Because the legislated Port Tax Cap allows port terminals to pay less taxes every year while shifting the tax burden to homeowners and small businesses, the Province of B.C. is forcing local taxpayers to subsidize the property taxes of wealthy multinational corporations.
“To make matters worse, a recently revealed FOI (Freedom of Information) request shows that the Prince Rupert Port Authority has reneged on its 2016 agreement with the City of Prince Rupert to jointly advocate to the Province on finding ways to provide greater tax certainty to the municipality,” STCCC wrote in the media statement. “Instead, a Port Authority executive questioned why propane terminals are not also included in the Port Tax Cap.”
“If this were to happen to the Altagas and Pembina export facilities, it would result in a 20 per cent tax increase for homeowners and small businesses,” the petition organizers stated.
K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist
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