B.C.’s carbon tax is set to increase again April 1, with rising revenues directed away from personal income tax reductions to targeted programs designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of the proceeds from the tax on carbon fuels go to increased tax credits to offset the impact for low- and middle-income families. Effective July 1, 2019, the maximum rebate increases 14 per cent for adults and children, for a maximum tax benefit of $400 a year.
Finance Minister Carole James has budgeted $107 million to cover B.C.’s point-of-sale rebates for zero-emission vehicles over three years, out of a $900 million overall budget for its CleanBC initiative. Most of the rest of the CleanBC program details are to be announced later.
After being left at $30 a tonne of emissions from 2013 to 2017 under former premier Christy Clark, the NDP government raised the tax by $5 a tonne last spring and is increasing to $40 a tonne this spring. The impact of the tax is now about eight cents on a litre of gasoline at the pump.
The zero-emission vehicle program is administered by the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. It provides up to $5,000 for purchase or lease of a new battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, and up to $6,000 for a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.
The program was topped up last fall with an additional $10 million as electric and plug-in hybrid car sales continued to rise. Electric vehicles were 3.7 per cent of B.C. new car sales by mid-2018.
The province’s CleanBC program includes $58 million in incentives for heat pumps, insulated windows and other high-efficiency improvements for homes. Another $18 million is earmarked for remote and Indigenous communities to move to cleaner energy sources.
B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said the budget reflects many of his party’s priorities, on additional education spending as well as the CleanBC commitment.
“You can clearly see in this budget the signature of B.C. Green influence in a number of ways,” Weaver said. “We’re pleased to see the funding for CleanBC come forward.”
Revenue from B.C.’s carbon tax is expected to reach $1.7 billion for the fiscal year that starts April 1, up from $1.46 billion in the current year. Revenues are projected to rise to $1.97 billion in 2020-21 and $2.2 billion in 2021-22.