Small business gets a leg up in Alberta Budget

Small business owners will find some relief in seeing the reduction in their corporate tax rate to two per cent, down from three.

Small business owners will find some relief in seeing the reduction in their corporate tax rate to two per cent, down from three in the 2016 Alberta Budget.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci released the budget Thursday, April 14 with a 2015 deficit of $10.4 billion, looking at three-year forecast deficit of $58 billion. In it the budget focuses on a reduction in small business tax, continued support for the public-sector workers and front-line services.

However, some critics take issue with the implementation of a carbon tax, starting in 2017, which will see individuals and municipalities having to pay for fossil fuels.

The levy is aimed at challenging not only individuals but towns and cities to reduce carbon emissions. To offset the cost, rebates will be applied starting in 2017 to single adults who earn less than $51,250, $100,000 as a couple or $101,500 for a couple with children.

The rebate will be $200 for an individual, $300 for a couple and an extra $30 per child. The Carbon Levy, as part of the Climate Leadership Plan, will increase in 2018.

Mayor Rick Bonnett said in an interview the levy is an area he is unsure of and how it will affect the community. He said municipalities across the province will have to pay for the levy by increasing taxes to residents, who themselves are paying for the levy.

He was pleased, however, with the continued support through the Municipal Sustainable Initiative (MSI). The budget provides $1.2 billion to municipalities through MSI.

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr said his biggest concern was in the large deficit forecast by the province. “My first response is that this is a budget of a very big deficit.”

“It’s a spend, spend, spend budget, which maybe does give some immediate relief,” he added.

Orr approved of the small business tax rollback but said young families are concerned about the long-term debt. He called it a way of “borrowing your way out of trouble.”

As for the Carbon Levy, Orr said it’s tax meant to punish certain behaviours and encourage others. He questioned whether the levy will be effective suggesting there are no concrete numbers outlined as for as greenhouse gas emissions reduced.