Household budgets don’t balance themselves, and B.C. residents are looking ahead to tax and fee increases that will have to be accommodated in 2019.
First up for many will be property assessments, as municipalities calculate their property taxes for the year. With a new employer health tax on business and municipal payrolls above $500,000, plus the remaining year of Medical Services Plan premiums for employers who cover their employers, city councils are looking at property tax hikes of up to five per cent for 2019.
For Surrey, the double cost for 2019 is estimated to be $4.7 million, then $3.35 million the year after when MSP is eliminated. Businesses have also noted that the burden of employee MSP premiums is less than the payroll tax the NDP government has imposed to recover the revenue.
Asked about that burden in a year-end interview with Black Press, Premier John Horgan emphasized that self-employed and small business people have been paying their own MSP, and large businesses are getting other benefits from his government’s policies.
“In the interim, those very businesses that are asking for more child care, asking for housing affordability so they can retain employees, are getting those services they need,” Horgan said.
For renters, the province has capped the maximum rent increase for 2019 at 2.5 per cent, the federal estimate of inflation for the year.
The Insurance Corp. of B.C. has applied for a 6.5 per cent increase to basic vehicle insurance for 2019, as it struggles with rising accident rates and injury claims. By the fall of 2019, the province is imposing a cap on pain and suffering claims against ICBC and adjusting rates to reflect the higher accident risk of new drivers and urban areas.
While other Canadian provinces see the imposition of a carbon tax on fuels for the first time, B.C.’s decade-old carbon tax goes up from $35 to $40 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions on April 1. That translates to nearly nine cents per litre on gasoline, on top of the existing regional, provincial and federal fuel and sales taxes.
For home natural gas users, FortisBC has increased its rates nine per cent for 2019, after gas fell to record lows and the utility was charging more for carbon tax than it was for gas.
Another bite to the paycheque is an increase in Canada Pension Plan, which the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation estimates will cost the average worker an extra $98 in 2019. It’s the first of five annual increases to CPP premiums designed to shore up the plan as baby boomers retire in large numbers.