NDP financial plan includes tax increases

But Liberals blast opposition, saying province will spin out of control

Those in Maple Ridge's film industry say film industry needs more tax credits.

New Democrats rolled out their financial plan Friday, proposing tax hikes to 19 per cent for people earning more than $150,000, bumping up the corporate tax rate from 11 to 12 per cent, and reinstating the three-per-cent tax on banks.

Voters won’t like that, says Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Liberal candidate Doug Bing.

“I don’t think the public really has an appetite for more taxes. Nobody, no matter what their social situation, wants to see taxes go up.”

Hiking business taxes will only mean those companies, 90 per cent of which are small businesses, will pass their costs on to the consumer, added Bing, who’s retiring after 36 years as a dentist.

He also questions the NDP plan, if it’s elected, to run deficit budgets in the first three years of government, then balance the budget by the end of 2017. “They’re not going to get there if they’re going to have four deficit budgets in a row.”

Maple Ridge-Mission Liberal candidate Marc Dalton called the NDP’s plan, “absolutely distressing,” and one that would lead B.C’s economy to spinning out of control.

He said the NDP’s plan to cancel the $1,200 RESP contribution by government to start parents saving for their kids education would be a “big loss.

“That’s very popular on the door steps.”

NDP candidate Elizabeth Rosenau, though, says her party is just spelling out from where the money will come.

“We’re trying to be prudent and practical. There’s a lot of fear-mongering, where people say we’re going to raise taxes.

“We’re holding the line in taxes for 98 per cent of the population. We’re holding the line for small business taxes.”

The income tax increase on those making more than $150,000 is only a small step up from the current rate and only affects 69,000 people, leaving 3.7 million unaffected, Rosenau added.

She also challenged the Liberals’ claim that the 2013 budget is balanced. “We call it bogus. We don’t think their numbers add up at all.” That budget’s revenue stream relies on sell-offs of Crown assets, she added, and was criticized by the auditor general because it assumes money coming in from those sales.

The government is also underestimating what it will need for health-care, while school boards not even getting enough money to cover their rising labour costs, she said.

Rosenau pointed out B.C.’s corporate tax is still below Ontario and Quebec, and the resumption of the bank tax will pay for post-secondary and skills training.

The bank tax is supposed to raise $75 million this year, and $150 million in the years after.

“We believe the banks have the ability to pay.”

In making the announcement, NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston said the new measures will raise $988 million by 2015.

The NDP also wants to expand the carbon tax to include vented emissions from oil and gas operations, capturing an additional five per cent of carbon emissions, which it says will raise $70 million in 2015-16.

There are also plans to roll in the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant and Early Years Strategy into a new childcare and early education plan, although details remain scant.

Earlier this week, the NDP promised to increase tax credits for the movie industry in B.C., to compete with new incentives in Ontario.

NDP leader Adrian Dix said he’d increase tax credits to 40 per cent of labour costs for both foreign and domestic films shot in B.C. The current credits are 33 per cent for foreign productions and 35 per cent for domestic productions. The digital animation or visual effects tax credit will stay at 17.5 per cent of labour expenditures, said an NDP release.

“It’s definitely a huge step in the right direction,” said Wayne Bennett, organizer with SaveBCFilm.

“With this increased amount, it gives us a fighting chance.”

Maple Ridge was one of the locations for town hall meetings earlier this year as producers, directors and equipment operators feared jobs would move east and south as other governments ramp up their tax credits.

While the return of the provincial sales tax means no more HST credits for film companies, increasing the labour tax credit does help.

The governing Liberals have so far refused to consider any changes in film tax credits, but that may change this weekend, when they release their platform.

Bennett said that total payroll for B.C. film payroll companies has dropped by 36 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year.

And for all of 2012, film industry payroll dropped 32 per cent from the year previous.

Still, Bennett doesn’t want to support one party over another as the May 14 election looms, saying that SaveBCFilm is a grass roots organization with a variety of viewpoints.

“It wouldn’t be possible to endorse one party over another.”

He added that money used to produce films is “totally portable” and will go anywhere the balance sheet looks the best.

“It’s called show business for a reason. It’s a business.”

Bing said the provincial government can’t afford to increase tax breaks for the movie industry, and that Dix wants to get back into the subsidy game. The government already offers tax breaks worth $330 million a year, Bing added.

“We’re trying to show restraint. Where’s this money going to come from?”

The government wants to support the industry, he said, but everybody wants more and restraint has to be shown.


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