Tax cuts need to be focus of Manitoba election

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Past NDP tax hikes could influence upcoming Manitoba election. Tax cuts are desperately needed

Gage HaubrichManitobans need more tax relief.

A family of four in Winnipeg making $75,000 a year pays more provincial taxes than if they lived in Saskatchewan, Alberta or British Columbia.

Since the last election in 2019, inflation in Manitoba has gone up 12 per cent. Groceries now cost 18 per cent more, and the price of gas is up by more than half.

The upcoming election is a perfect time for all parties to commit to making life more affordable by putting more money back in Manitobans’ pockets.

What can you expect from four more years of Progressive Conservative Premier Heather Stefanson? Or four years of newcomer New Democratic Party leader Wab Kinew?

tax hikes manitoba election
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Let’s compare the tax-cutting record of both parties.

In 2019, the PC government cut the provincial sales tax by one point, lowering it from eight to seven per cent. And in 2020, the government started phasing out education property taxes, which will save the average homeowner $581 this year.

Stefanson’s latest budget increased the tax-free portion of Manitobans’ income from $10,145 to $15,000. This will save taxpayers up to $524 per year. It will also remove 47,400 low-income taxpayers from having to pay any income tax at all.

The Stefanson government committed to further cut taxes after the election in 2024 by changing the income tax brackets. Under this change, the first $47,000 of your income will be taxed at the lowest rate, compared to the current $36,842. Income between $47,000 and $100,000 will be taxed at the second highest rate compared to $79,625 before. This means that more taxpayer income will be taxed at lower rates.

Combined with this year’s change, an individual taxpayer will save up to $1,399 in 2024. That’s a substantial tax cut: it’s enough money to pay for a month of rent or a couple of months of groceries.

Greg Selinger, the last NDP premier, was well-known for raising taxes. In 2012, his government raised the gas tax. While campaigning in 2011, Selinger promised Manitobans he would not increase the provincial sales tax, but in 2013, he hiked the PST from seven to eight per cent.

The past shows that the PCs have the edge when it comes to a tax cut track record. Cutting taxes three times in the last seven years is an accomplishment. But an election is just as much about what a party will do as it is about what it has done.

Stefanson and the PCs need to follow through on their announced tax cuts. And if the PCs are really serious about affordability, they will cut the gas tax to offset Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax hike. “Manitobans will feel even more of a pinch when they are filling up the tank, buying groceries and heating their homes,” Stefanson said on the latest carbon tax hike. The federal carbon tax increases the price you pay at the pump by 14 cents per litre. The Manitoba government also charges a 14 cents per litre gas tax.

Kinew also needs to make bold commitments if he wants taxpayers’ attention. After the budget, Kinew refused to say if an NDP government would keep Stefanson’s latest tax cuts. Kinew needs to come clean on what Manitobans can expect if he gets elected.

To the west, the Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the provincial government to cut parts of the PST. Promising a provincial sales or gas tax cut would show Manitobans that Kinew and his party have learned from their past mistakes.

Taxpayers are struggling. Politicians are supposed to work for the people. Manitoba politicians need to prove to taxpayers that they can make it a little easier to make ends meet.

Gage Haubrich is the Prairie Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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By Gage Haubrich

Gage Haubrich took over as the Prairie Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in 2022, but he had already been a part of the organization for years. During his time at the University of Saskatchewan, Gage joined the CTF's student organization, Generation Screwed, and became one of its most successful campus leaders. After finishing his master's degree in economics, Gage became Generation Screwed's executive director and rebuilt campus clubs after the pandemic. Gage grew up near Hodgeville, SK, which is known as the coyote capital of Canada.

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