Colin Craig is Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Calgary’s Business: What are your thoughts about the level of taxation Albertans are facing these days?
Craig: Taxpayers are getting a very raw deal from the government right now – our taxes are way too high. Think of all the news stories we see day in and day out about governments spending our money ineffectively. Whether it’s an $8-million rink on the front lawn of Parliament or recent revelations that 236 City of Calgary employees are set to receive three pensions each, we need to cut back on how much we give the government in the first place.
When we survey our supporters in Alberta, by far the greatest irritant is the new carbon tax. Not only was it a bad taxation decision, Premier Rachel Notley’s timing for the new tax was very harmful. In the middle of a recession, she piled on extra costs for businesses and made it harder for them to stay open.
CB: In Alberta, what are some of the specific measures you would like to see a government take in regards to taxes?
Craig: Right now, Alberta’s debt is going up by over $1.2 million every single hour. That’s not sustainable, nor is it fair to keep piling on debt and expecting young people to pay the bill.
With that in mind, the first thing the provincial government needs to do is get its spending under control. At the same time, it should eliminate the carbon tax as that will help our economy and Alberta families.
Returning to Alberta’s former single rate personal income tax, and a 10 per cent business tax rate, need to be changes the government works towards as well.
CB: What impact does higher taxes have in the province?
Craig: The government’s tax increases have contributed to job losses and made our economic recovery much more difficult. Simply put, when governments tax businesses more, they’re reducing the amount of money that entrepreneurs have to employ people and expand their operations.
In June, we saw a story in the Globe and Mail about oil rigs moving to the United States. One of the CEOs in the story specifically cited the Notley government’s new carbon tax as a contributing factor. Think of all the jobs we lost.
Late last year, a restaurant owner in Calgary cited the carbon tax as just another cost pressure that led to her reducing shifts for serving staff.
Just prior to the carbon tax coming into existence, we saw a Global News story about a greenhouse company shutting down, citing the new tax as a contributing factor.
These are just a few examples, but they show it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, the carbon tax is just another cost that makes it difficult for businesses to stay open and keep people employed.
CB: Is there one area of taxation you’re most concerned about?
Craig: When we survey our supporters, by far the most contentious tax issue they’re concerned about is the carbon tax. Plain and simple, it has to go. Property taxes are always another top concern.
CB: Do you think this province will ever institute a sales tax?
Craig: Not anytime soon. Politicians seem to be very much aware of the fact that the idea is very unpopular with the public.
The good news is that Alberta doesn’t need a sales tax. If the Alberta government merely reduced its spending levels down to what B.C.’s government spends per person, we would have a balanced budget right now. We need the government to reduce its bloat instead of coming after taxpayers for more money.
– Mario Toneguzzi