Manitoba's taxes shocked woman who moved from Saskatchewan
Sheryl Ward was surprised to see level of taxation after she moved here in 2009
Manitobans pay more in several key taxes than neighbouring provinces, but save in areas such as utilities and child care costs.
In 2009, Sheryl Ward moved to Winnipeg from Saskatoon. She says her income taxes here were at least $200 higher.
"At the time I was outraged, because I'm not making that much money. I thought it was a little bit ridiculous," she said.
Manitoba's basic personal exemption is $8,884, while in Saskatchewan it is $15,241.
In Saskatchewan, Ward's income level placed her in the lowest tax bracket at a provincial tax rate of 11 per cent. In Manitoba, making the same amount of money, she was placed in a higher tax bracket at a provincial tax rate of 12.75 per cent.
"Growing up, I always thought Saskatchewan and Manitoba were pretty similar, so … that's not something that you look into before you move to a different place," she said.
Provincial income tax breakdown
(Source: Canada Revenue Agency. Note: Ward's tax bracket in the two provinces is shown in bold.)
It wasn't just income taxes. Ward said she paid $200 more for rent when she arrived in Manitoba. She said she knows housing prices in Saskatchewan have gone up since she left.
Data from Statistics Canada supports that. According to Statistics Canada, Manitobans pay less than people in Saskatchewan do for shelter, and well less than than the national average.
The average household shelter expenditure a year is:
- Manitoba: $13,852.
- Saskatchewan: $14,664.
- Ontario: $18,074.
- Canada: $16,387.
CBC News sorted through information provided by the Province of Manitoba in the last provincial budget, along with information from Statistics Canada, to compare livability for people in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
The tax was calculated for the $60,000 family based on one spouse earning $36,000, the other earning $24,000, and two preschool children.
The tax was calculated for the $76,000 family based on this: One spouse earning $45,500 and the other earning $30,500. This family has two school-age children so it does not receive the universal child care benefit or have child-care deductions, but they are claiming the fitness tax credit for both children.
There is an income disparity in Manitoba compared to Saskatchewan and Ontario as well. According to Statistics Canada, in 2005 the average income for someone with a bachelor's degree in Manitoba was $45,804, but in Saskatchewan it was $49,148 and in Ontario the average was $55,982.
Moving from Saskatchewan to Manitoba, Ward is the anomaly. More people move the other way.
In 2013-2014, 2,015 people moved from Saskatchewan to Manitoba. However, that same year, 2,660 people went from Manitoba to Saskatchewan.
In 2013, a total of 13,655 people came to Manitoba from another province. However, 18,120 people left Manitoba destined for another province; that's a net provincial loss of 4,465 people.
In the last decade, only in 2006 did Manitoba have a higher net loss at 7,227.
Land Transfer Taxes
The Manitoba Real Estate Association and Winnipeg Realtors have teamed up to lobby the government to eliminate, reduce or ease Land Transfer Taxes in Manitoba.
Peter Squire, director of public affairs with Winnipeg Realtors, said the tax is a "deterrent" for people looking to move to Manitoba.
"When they look at the total tax equation, that's another thing they have to factor in when they think about whether they are going to move to Manitoba," he said.
"Importantly too, it's not just people who will move here — it's about those people we are hoping will stay."
Land Transfer Taxes were brought into Manitoba in 1987. The tax is tied to the price of the property, which has skyrocketed since the '80s.
In 1987, the province estimates the average house price was $77,031. The Land Transfer Tax on that price would be $235.
In 2014, the average house price ballooned to $266,329. The Land Transfer Tax on that price is $2,977.
The Association of Saskatchewan Realtors said in that province the Land Transfer Tax costs $3 per $1000 of the price of the property. Here are examples for homes in Saskatchewan:
- $250,000 property – fee is $750
- $300,000 property – fee is $900
- $350,000 property – fee is $1,050
- $400,000 property – fee is $1,200
(Source: Association of Saskatchewan Realtors)
In Ontario and British Columbia, where Land Transfer Taxes are relatively high, first-time home-buyers are exempt from paying the tax.
Winnipeg Realtors want the province to follow Ontario and B.C. and exempt first time home-buyers from the tax.
"It's another hurdle for them to overcome on their path to home ownership. It could delay them or could be enough to discourage them from not entering the home market," Squire said.
CBC News approached the three NDP leadership candidates. None of them responded with a position on the Land Transfer Tax.
Both the provincial Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives responded.
The Liberals committed to exempting first time home-buyers from the Land Transfer Tax if elected. The Tories didn't commit to scrapping it.
In a statement, the Progressive Conservatives said, "The Land Transfer Tax can be a barrier for home ownership, especially for first-time home buyers."
"At this time, we are focused on reducing the PST and living up to our other reduction commitments, but will certainly look at this issue as we continue our policy process."
Manitoba among most affordable places, says province
The province says it's working to make Manitoba more affordable. A government spokesperson pointed out the Education Property Tax Credit.
When the NDP came to power in 1999, the credit was worth $250; by 2011, the credit was worth $700.
"The annual tax savings helps offset the one-time Land Transfer Tax," a government spokesperson said.
Overall, the province says it has reduced property taxes by $352 million between 1999 and 2014.
In 2014, for example, the province started implementing a $235 Seniors' School Tax Rebate. The rebate eliminates the school division levy paid by some seniors.
"When provincial taxes are added together with basic household costs, Manitoba continues to be one of the most affordable places to live, work and own a home in Canada," a government spokesperson said.