Top earners, pop drinkers pay more in British Columbia budget

NDP budget hits top earners

Top income earners and pop drinkers are being hit with new taxes in today's B.C. budget, which continues the government's focus on capital spending for schools, hospitals and transit.

Finance Minister Carole James is introducing a new 20.5 per cent tax bracket that will cover the top one per cent of income earners in B.C., or those earning more than $220,000 annually.

James says the government will also start charging the provincial sales tax of seven per cent on sweetened carbonated drinks to help address the health and economic costs of the beverages.

The government is bringing in a new grant program as well this fall for post-secondary school students that will provide up to $4,000 a year to offset tuition fees, with as many as 40,000 people being eligible for the $24-million program.

James says a record $22.9 billion will be spent on capital projects including on the new St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, student housing and schools for kids in kindergarten to Grade 12.

The budget forecasts surpluses for the next three years with the government finishing 2020-21 $227 million in the black.

Highlights of British Columbia's 2020-21 budget released Tuesday:

— Starting in September, post-secondary students can receive up to $4,000 a year to help cover tuition costs under a new grant program.

— The seven per cent provincial sales tax will be applied to sweetened carbonated drinks starting on July 1, which will generate an additional $27 million in tax revenue in 2020-21.

— A new personal income tax rate of 20.5 per cent on taxable income starting in 2020 is being introduced for those earning more than $220,000, described as the top one per cent of income earners in the province.

— The budget forecasts surpluses of $227 million for 2020-21, $179 million for 2021-22, and $374 million for 2022-23.

— Real GDP growth is forecast to be two per cent in 2020, 1.9 per cent in 2021 and 2022.

— A record $22.9 billion will be spent over the next three years on infrastructure.

— The total provincial debt is forecast to be about $70.6 billion in 2019-20, climbing to about $87.6 billion in 2022-23, largely because of borrowing costs to cover capital spending.

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