The new B.C. budget has some small goodies for those at the top and at the bottom of the income ladder. Find out which ones apply to you.
1. B.C. books another surplus
B.C. is forecast to book a budget surplus of $879 million in 2014-15, the only province to officially declare a surplus so far this year.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong credits tight spending controls, the wide range of B.C.’s industries and the diversity of the province’s international trading partners for keeping the province in the black during tough economic times.
But other factors contributing to the surplus included an unexpected boost in income tax revenue, the sale of government assets and a delay in having to spend money on the Evergreen Line Project.
2. Child support clawback ended
Parents on income or disability assistance will be able to keep all of their child support payments starting next September, rather than having them deducted from their government cheques.
This means 3,200 of the poorest families in the province will be able to keep an extra $10 million cash per year total.
3. Tax breaks for families
The budget had a few other breaks for families, some of which were already announced. Parents will be able to bank a $1,200 grant if they have an RESP for a child born since Jan. 1, 2007.
For the first time, this year parents will be able to claim an annual $660 child care tax credit for children six and under, which was previously announced. Families earning up to $100,000 will receive the full amount, those earning up to $150,000 will receive partial payments.
There is also a new tax credit on up to $250 spent on childrens’ sports equipment, worth a maximum of $12.65 per child.
4. Tax cut for high-income earners
The temporary personal income tax rate of 16.8 per cent on individuals earning more than $150,000 will be eliminated on Jan. 1, 2016 as previously promised by de Jong.
This higher tax bracket was first introduced two years ago to help boost government revenue during the economic downturn and affected about the top two per cent of taxpayers in B.C.
Those high income earners will now fall back into the top tax bracket of 14.7 per cent for those earning more than $105,592.
5. Health care and education spending up
Health and education are two of the only areas to get significant increases in government spending. Health care funding will be boosted by nearly $3 billion over three years, pushing total provincial spending on health care to $17.4 billion next year.
MSP premiums will once again increase by four per cent.
Despite the increase, de Jong promised to continue to rein in health care spending -- which now eats up a third of the total budget -- in the coming years.
For education, an extra $564 million will be spent on K-12 education over the next three years to meet the terms of the collective agreement reached with teachers this past September.