Tax changes at the federal level will result in savings for many British Columbians; but those savings will be more than eaten up by increased taxes, fees, and rates at the provincial and municipal levels.
The two main federal measures that will mean more money for taxpayers are changes to Employment Insurance premiums for employees, which will result in savings of up to $132 per person, and the first full year of the means-tested Canada Child Benefit.
However, changes to the provincial Medical Services Premium that kicked in on January 1 could result in an increase of up to $168 per year for couples without children who earn more than $45,000 per year, or senior couples who earn more than $51,000. However, some households will see premiums go down, including singles making less than $42,000, couples making less than $45,000, and seniors making less than $51,000.
ICBC’s rate increase has been approved, meaning that drivers will see a rate increase of 4.9 per cent in 2017. This translates to $42 more for basic insurance per year for an average driver, and $18 more for optional insurance.
On April 1, 2017 BC Hydro’s rates will go up by 3.5 per cent, resulting in the average residential customer paying $49.32 more this year (and rates will increase by a further 3 per cent in 2018). FortisBC has received approval for a 2.76 per cent increase in electricity rates starting January 1, 2017, which means the average customer will be paying about $3.65 more per month.
Municipalities are finalizing their property tax rates for 2017, with most raising taxes by two to five per cent. Property owners in Vancouver are also facing an empty home tax of one per cent of the property’s assessed value, and an increase of the TransLink property tax by $5. BC Ferries is expected to raise its fares by 1.9 per cent in 2017.
The average Canadian family may have to spend as much as $420 more per year on groceries, as food prices are expected to continue to climb in 2017. Protein, meat, fish, seafood, and vegetable prices are expected to rise by four to six per cent in the new year, with fruit prices expected to increase by three to five per cent.
“What the feds giveth in tax relief, the provinces and cities more than happily take away,” says Jordan Bateman, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “It will be another year with higher taxes and fees for B.C. taxpayers.”