It’s May now and many Manitobans have just filed their tax returns.
While it’s a universal principle that people complain about taxes, nowhere are those complaints warranted more than in Manitoba, where the NDP government has been so unsympathetic to the tax burden it is placing on Manitoban families.
For starters, Manitobans pay far more provincial income tax than wage earners in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The average Manitoba two-earner family of four pays $1,500 more than in B.C., twice as much as in Alberta, and $3,000 more than in Saskatchewan. The NDP government responds by saying we have lower utility bills here, but even after those utility bills are factored in, Manitobans pay far more.
Just last week, I met a woman who recently moved with her family from Regina to Winnipeg. She commented that her family really felt the decline in their end-of-the-month disposable income with the eight per cent PST, high gas taxes, high MPI vehicle registration rates and other taxes.
Manitobans have not forgotten that the NDP broke its word and raised taxes. In 2012, the NDP widened the PST, generating $184 million per year by applying the sales tax to whole new areas like haircuts and insurance policies.
A year later in 2013, the NDP hiked the PST to eight per cent, taking in an additional $277 million. Those two tax hikes alone take almost $500 million out of the pockets of hard-working Manitobans each and every year.
But the NDP government has another quickly growing cash cow — income tax revenue. The NDP’s 2014 budget shows that the government now takes in an astonishing $3.6 billion per year in income tax — up $1 billion from just five years ago!
With this kind of revenue, the NDP government should be doing much, much more to help hardworking Manitoba families. It could raise the basic personal exemption (the threshold at which people begin to pay tax) like other Canadian provinces do. That would help low-income wage earners. It could adjust income tax brackets upward to account for the effect of inflation, like other provinces do. But it does none of these things.
In fact, even with all this additional revenue pouring into provincial government coffers, the NDP government has failed to balance its 2015 budget as it promised just 24 months ago. Instead of a surplus, it will run another enormous $357-million deficit this coming year.
The NDP government’s failure to relieve the burden on taxpayers is inexcusable — revenue from the eight per cent PST hike is up, revenue from income tax is up, federal transfer payments remain stable, and interest rates remain at historically low levels.
Other provincial governments are working to control spending and create the conditions that help families to succeed. This NDP government is working to keep the money flowing into its own pockets.
Enough is enough. It’s time for a government that helps hard-working, Manitoba families get ahead — not one that paints a bull’s eye on their wallets.
Progressive Conservative MLA for Morden-Winkler