B.C. Hikes Taxes on Wealthy

The British Columbia provincial government on Tuesday promised in its budget on Tuesday to raise taxes on high earners and on sugary drinks, while projecting a surplus this year and next.

In an address to the provincial legislature, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said individuals with a taxable income of more than $220,000 will see their tax rate jump to 20.5% from 16.8%, effective Jan. 1, 2020. Nearly half the revenue collected, James said, will come from people making more than $1 million annually and help fund services and infrastructure.

The province will also begin charging a 7% provincial sales tax on carbonated beverages that contain sugar, natural or artificial sweeteners effective July 1 in an attempt to deter consumers, especially teenagers, away from soft drinks like pop.

Elected in 2017, B.C.'s NDP government, which holds power in a coalition with the B.C. Green party, has focused its economic policies on controlling costs for families.

The 2020 budget also includes funding for a new post-secondary education grants, housing, the province's struggling forestry sector and climate action.

On Tuesday, the province revised its 2020 real Gross Domestic Product forecast up slightly to 2.0% from 1.9%, while its 2021 forecast edged down to 1.9% from 2.0%.

Total revenues for the 2020-21 fiscal year were set at $60.6 billion, while expenses were expected to be $60.1 billion. A surplus of $227 million was estimated for 2020-21, rising to $374 million 2022-23.

Tuesday's budget comes just hours after environmental activists gathered outside Premier John Horgan's home as part of a failed attempt a "citizen's arrest" aimed at preventing Horgan from attending the day's budget proceedings. Police arrested three people.