It has the power to turn Alberta’s deficit into a healthy surplus without cutting a single government service, but the government is adamant a sales tax will not be coming to the province.
While the government insists it’s not on the table, the sales tax is an option on the government’s online budget tool.
A five-per-cent sales tax would bring in $5 billion in revenue, turning the government’s projected $2.6 billion deficit to a $2.4 billion surplus.
Finance Minister Doug Horner’s spokesperson Robyn Cochrane said the sales tax is on the budget calculator only to show options.
“It’s not telegraphing what are putting into the budget. It’s just a reasonable amount of options for someone to play with it,” she said.
Cochrane said the point is to demonstrate the challenge government faces.
“It is not just as easy as cutting salaries for mid-level managers and you balance the budget,” she said.
Bill Moore-Kilgannon, with Public Interest Alberta said a sales tax is a bad idea, because it would unfairly punish poorer people who spend most of their income.
“I think the government needs to look at all options, but they have better options than a provincial sales tax,” he said.
Moore-Kilgannon said the province should look at higher energy royalties or eliminating the province’s flat income tax system.
What a sale tax would cost you
Using the HST charged in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces, Metro calculated the cost of a sales tax on some items you might purchase.
- Beer: 12 Miller Genuine Draft Now: $21.95 | With sales tax $23.09
- Gym Membership: Downtown YMCA | Now: $69.83 | With sales tax 74.81
- Oilers Ticket: Lower bowl single ticket | Now: $190.50 | With sales tax $200.02
- Sony Brava: 40” LED TV | Now: $734.99 | With sales tax $769.97