Surrey – The BC Government released the 2019 Provincial Budget on February 19, indicating a balanced budget. BC’s economic strength is allowing for spending and reinvestments to enhance livability.
Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, released the Boards’ take on Budget 2019.
WHAT WE WANTED TO HEAR FOR SURREY:
1. Transportation investments in Surrey and South of the Fraser
2. Education investments specifically for K-12 and for SFU/KPU
3. Taxes: 2019 is the year of the double dip with MSP and the Employer’s Health Tax. Going forward the EHT Tax Rate of 1.95% is similar to Manitoba and Ontario which are at 2.15% and 1.95%, respectively.
4. Revenue streams: There are budgetary contingency plans but in the face of ICBC/BC Hydro/global circumstances, new innovations for provincial revenue in addition to LNG require focus
5. Housing: Yes, the market has cooled; however, the province must look at ways to work with local governments to increase supply of market rental housing.
WHAT WE LIKE FOR SURREY:
1. Clean BC Investments
2. Child Care Investments
3. Poverty Reduction Strategy Implementation
4. Investment in Arts
5. BC to match the accelerated capital cost allowance claims announced by the federal government on November 21, 2018 – Positive to put BC in similar tax depreciation as the United States
6. Small Business Venture Capital Tax Credit Program Enhanced – This is good but only applies to very specific circumstances. Not sure how many business owners or investors understand the benefits here
7. General corporate tax rate remains competitive at 12% which is the same as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba but slightly more than Ontario and Quebec (11.5 and 11.6 respectively)
8. Small business corporate tax rate is competitive at 2% which matches Alberta and Saskatchewan but is more than Manitoba (0%)
a) Goal of remaining within the lowest two personal income tax bracket for the bottom bracket;
b) Goal of remaining within the lowest two personal income tax bracket for the second lowest bracket; and
c) For 2019 being in bottom 3 of top marginal income tax bracket
The combination of the above makes BC very competitive within Canada. The issue is the low dollar thresholds and high personal income tax rates in relation to the United States. Also, if the tax on split income applies then the specific tax payer would lose access to marginal rates for their split income (BC could choose not to apply the new tax on split income rules).
“The Surrey Board of Trade realizes that detailed strategies for the BC budget are to come; however, Surrey will be the largest city in BC very soon and needs strategic attention to implement infrastructure investments,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.
· $20 billion in capital investments primarily in the health, transportation and education sectors.
· $902 million for CleanBC, putting BC on the path to a cleaner, brighter, low-carbon future.
· Diversifying forest tenures and manufacturing, increasing timber processing in BC and supporting collaboration with stakeholders, including Indigenous governments with a $10-million investment.
· $18 million to continue making Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning free and accessible for people looking to upgrade their skills and get ahead.
· $21 million to expand BC Transit and handyDART services to help people safely commute in over 30 urban and rural communities in the province.
· $39 million in new funds over three years to ensure BC’s bridges and roads keep people and goods moving, and an additional $4 million to improve commercial-vehicle safety by increasing inspection station hours and targeted enforcement.
· $9 million over three years to implement government’s commitment to modernize the taxi industry and enable ride-hailing in BC
· $15 million for the BC Arts Council to open doors for BC artists, writers and creators.
· $20-million investment to fund a fair, independent oversight body in the mining sector.
· $14 million over three years to transform BC’s employment standards for protections and enforcement, keeping people safe at work.
· $50 million to expand high-speed internet in rural and remote communities throughout BC
· $15 million in making BC a leader in the arts so we can open doors for our artists, writers and creators.
· As of April 1st this year, eliminating the PST on non-residential electricity.
· Tax reductions for businesses investing in machinery and equipment in British Columbia. In total, B.C.’s contribution means $800 million in tax reductions for businesses over four years.
· $76 million to buy land for modular housing