ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

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

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Interior Health reported 43 new COVID-19 cases in the region Feb. 23, 2021 and no additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
43 new cases of COVID reported in Interior Health

No new deaths, Williams Lake outbreak over

Black Press file photo.
Interior Health: 6 new deaths and 67 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend

An outbreak has been declared at Kelowna General Hospital

Janet (left) and Karen Johnson. (Shelley Woods Boden/Facebook)
Petition to keep Wells Gray murderer in jail garners 39K signatures and counting

Family and friends compiling victim impact statements to keep David Ennis behind bars.

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read