Carbon tax rebates not enough for majority of Albertans

Colin Craig
Canadian Taxpayers Federation

The Alberta government regularly boasts about the carbon tax rebate cheques it has been sending out to Albertans.
But with any rebate cheque that arrives in the mail from the government, taxpayers would be wise to ponder whether or not the government is giving you back more than what you initially paid, the same, or less.
Some data shared with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation by University of Calgary Associate Professor Trevor Tombe suggests a majority of Albertans are actually getting short-changed.
According to the data, an estimated 55 per cent of Alberta households either didn’t qualify for the government’s rebate cheque or their cheque was less than what the household paid in carbon taxes.
It’s easy to see how so many Alberta households are getting short-changed. According to the government’s website, a family of four that qualifies for a full rebate will receive $540 this year. But if they use a “typical” amount of gasoline for their cars and natural gas for their homes, the government estimates their carbon tax costs will come in between $578 and $613. For this household, the carbon tax is upwards of a $73 cash grab each year.
Sadly, some taxpayers have been impacted even more severely as a result of the carbon tax – they’ve lost their jobs.
While the Alberta government doesn’t control world oil prices, and thus the recent recession that gripped our province wasn’t their fault, their policies have made our economic recovery more difficult.
Over the last two years, many businesses have shut down, noting government policies, including the new carbon tax, as contributing factors. Don’t forget, most businesses haven’t been receiving carbon tax rebate cheques. For them, the carbon tax is just another tax increase.
Recently, the owners of the Atlantic Trap and Gill pub announced they would soon be closing their Edmonton location. The business told media the carbon tax was one of several government policy decisions that contributed to their decision to shut down. As a result, over a dozen jobs will be lost.
Paul Hotchkiss, a former owner of a greenhouse company located outside Calgary, put it best when he described how the carbon tax and other government decisions led to his decision to shut down: “you couldn’t come up with better policies to crush not only small farms, but I think small Alberta businesses in general.”
The closure of his business meant the province lost another couple dozen jobs.
The owner of an Alberta trucking company recently called the CTF to share his concerns about the carbon tax. The owner described how the tax is costing him tens of thousands of dollars each year and it’s making it difficult for him to stay in business. He too is worried about layoffs or having to shut down.
The government can continue to pat itself on the back for its carbon tax rebate cheques, but it’s easy to understand why many Albertans and businesses aren’t so cheerful.
For them, the carbon tax is just another tax hike – one that couldn’t have come at a worse time.

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