Greens would axe education property tax, make up funding with tax hike for corporations, high-income earners

Manitoba's Green Party is promising to scrap the province's education property tax if elected, replacing lost funding with revenue from increased corporate taxes and higher income taxes for those earning more than $70,000.

Adults making less than $60K would see lower taxes, higher earners would pay more under Manitoba Greens' plan

Green Leader James Beddome says his party's plan to scrap education property taxes and make up the funding from increased corporate and income tax would be more fair for schools and taxpayers. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Manitoba's Green Party is promising to scrap the province's education property tax if elected, replacing lost funding with revenue from increased corporate and personal income taxes.

"Most homeowners will be better off," said Green Leader James Beddome in a release Wednesday. "Small businesses would see no tax change and large corporations would take on a greater responsibility for funding education."

Under the party's plan, adults making less than $60,000 a year would pay less in taxes, and adults with incomes over that amount would pay more.

The Green Party's figures say that after calculating the difference between the scrapped property tax and an income tax increase, those making between $60,000 and $70,000 would, on average, pay $87 more per year — about 0.1 per cent of total income on average.

Those in the highest bracket — people making $150,000 per year or more — would, on average, pay an extra $6,232 per year (two per cent of income on average in that bracket, according to the Greens' numbers).

Beddome said under his party's plan, schools would retain the responsibility for decisions on how to spend discretionary funding to meet local needs.

The party leader, who is seeking election in Fort Rouge, added his plan would not include the amalgamation of school divisions — an idea suggested as a possibility by the Progressive Conservative government.

Municipal education property taxes contributed $851.8 million to the projected operating expenditures on K-12 education in the province in 2018-19, according to Manitoba Education and Training.

Current system inequitable: Beddome

The Wednesday announcement comes a day after the Progressive Conservative party promised to gradually phase the education tax out of property tax bills over the course of a decade, making up the difference with money from general revenues.

Manitoba school boards are the last in Canada with the power to collect their own taxes.

Beddome said in the party's release the plan would be more fair to schools. Currently, the varying revenue capacities of school divisions impact what they can afford, he said.

"The end result is an inequitable system in which some taxpayers pay too much, some school divisions are under-funded, and students are short-changed," he said in the release.

He added the change would also reduce an unfair tax burden on farmers. Currently in Manitoba, owners of farmland can apply for a rebate of up to 80 per cent of what they paid in education taxes, but must meet certain criteria.

Election day in Manitoba is Sept. 10.

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