Saskatchewan

Sin taxes not touched in Saskatchewan budget

While governments sometimes boost their "sin taxes" during tough times, that didn't happen in Wednesday's provincial budget.

Alcohol, tobacco taxes not being hiked

Cigarette taxes weren't touched in Saskatchewan's provincial budget, which was released on Wednesday. (CBC)

While governments sometimes boost their "sin taxes" during tough times, that didn't happen in Wednesday's provincial budget.

Finance Minister Kevin Doherty says it shouldn't be a surprise that things like alcohol and cigarettes weren't touched this year, even though some cuts had to be made and a deficit of $434 million is expected.

For one thing, Brad Wall said during the spring election campaign that tax increases of any kind were not on the table this year, Doherty said.

"The premier was quite clear on [this], we would not be increasing taxes in this budget in this fiscal year," he said. "One would argue that taxes on cigarettes or alcohol are in fact a tax increase."

There are practical reasons why trying to get extra revenue from higher sin taxes can fail, he said.

"There's also a law of diminishing returns with respect to tobacco taxes," he said.

"We know that as we raise taxes on tobacco, the black market emerges even more and we have more smuggling going on in the province."

Meanwhile, higher sin taxes haven't been ruled out in future years.

On both the spending and the revenue side, everything is on the table, Doherty says.

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