Nova Scotia

Premier tells businesses they will get tax cuts in next N.S. budget

Premier Stephen McNeil surprised hundreds of business people, government officials and others gathered for a luncheon in Halifax by announcing tax cuts coming in his upcoming spring budget.

Corporate taxes to be reduced 2 points, small businesses getting break of 0.5 points

Premier Stephen McNeil says the cuts to the small business and corporate tax rates will result in an $80-million reduction in revenue to the province, but he was convinced that money would go back into the economy, spurring further growth. (Patrick Callghan/CBC)

Premier Stephen McNeil used his annual state of the province get-together with members of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce to tell businesses they will get tax breaks in the next provincial budget.

Responding to questions from chamber president Patrick Sullivan, McNeil announced a plan to cut the corporate tax rate by two points, which will bring it to 14 per cent.

"We know that our corporate tax is the highest in Canada," McNeil said.

The federal government says Nova Scotia is tied with P.E.I. for having the highest corporate tax rate in the country at 16 per cent.

The news drew immediate applause from the hundreds of people gathered to hear the premier speak.

Patrick Sullivan is the president of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. He says he's pleased with the decision to cut thet small business and corporate tax rates. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

McNeil also said the small business tax rate will drop from three to 2.5 per cent, which will match New Brunswick's rate, currently the lowest in Atlantic Canada.

"That is an investment in you and quite frankly, it's an investment that I want you to turn around and reinvest in Nova Scotia to drive the economy," said McNeil.

The news seemed to catch Sullivan off guard.

"Well, you've taken away most of my questions now," he said in response to McNeil's unusual pre-budget candour.

Provincial coffers will see $80M drop in revenue

"I knew I'd throw you off by answering the question," responded the premier.

Sullivan thanked the premier for the planned tax cuts.

Speaking to reporters following the luncheon, McNeil said the cuts amounted to an $80-million cut in revenue to the province, but he was convinced that money would go back into the economy, spurring further growth.

"We're very confident that [businesses] will continue to grow their footprint here in Nova Scotia," he said.

Sullivan is equally confident that will happen.

"I believe that nova Scotia businesses are looking to expand now," he said. "They need new people. They want to expand to additional markets, so yes, I believe it will happen. They will be spending that money."

Other spending priorities

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said if he were premier, he'd have other spending priorities.

"We're the only province in Canada where child poverty is getting worse, instead of better," he said.

Nova Scotia is one of only two provinces in the country where the rate of child poverty is increasing.

The province has the highest undergraduate tuition in Canada, according to Statistics Canada.

"These are deep problems that need government investment," said Burrill.

McNeil said the tax cuts would start April 1.


Jean Laroche


Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter since 1987. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.