Manitobans’ Tax Burden Too Much For Tories

Commentary, Frontier Centre, Poverty, Taxation, Worth A Look

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives used the backdrop of a candy store and a small bag of gum balls Friday to showcase how little the Doer government is doing to lower the personal tax burden on Manitobans.

But Finance Minister Greg Selinger said the Tory event was like candy floss — big on fluff and short on substance.

Tory MLA Heather Stefanson said the opposition wanted to highlight just how miserly the New Democrats have been on cutting personal taxes and putting more money in the pockets of Manitobans.

Stefanson said as workers received their first paycheque of the new year the NDP’s tax cut is $1.

“This is what it amounts to — a handful of gum balls,” she said. “Unbelievable.”

Stefanson, repeating the Tory mantra, said the NDP should further increase the basic personal exemption to create meaningful tax relief rather than increase the province’s minimum wage, something the NDP has done each year since 1999. The minimum wage will go up to $9 an hour by the end of the year.

Stefanson said Manitoba’s basic personal exemption is one of the lowest in the country. The province raised the basic exemption by $100 in its last budget. As of Jan. 1 Manitobans are now taxed on income over $8,134.

Saskatchewan recently raised its basic personal exemption by $4,000 — residents of that province now earn $12,945 tax-free.

Selinger said the exemption is only one part of the what government is doing to reduce the personal tax load. This year the lowest-bracket tax rate falls to 10.8 per cent while the middle-income threshold rises to $31,000 and the top bracket goes up to $67,000.

He also said despite the economic downturn the government is still planning in its new budget to keep Manitoba a competitive province to live and work. The new budget will be released in the spring.