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

File photo
City of Wetaskiwin launches Whistle-blower Program

Whistle-blower program acts as anonymous forum to hold local government accountable

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

Executive Director and Co-Founder of Rock Soup Craig Haavalsen is sleeping in a tent outside Rock Soup’s location until the Go Fund Me for Rock Soup raises $10,000. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Putting normalcy into asking for help: New non-profit sets up in Wetaskiwin

Rock Soup non-profit is a new secular Food Bank putting down roots in Wetaskiwin.

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary’s hub-city concept from Alberta Health

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraiser at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal highlight. (Independent file photo)
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

(Black Press File Photo)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

Most Read