FNTC and groups representing taxpayers on First Nation lands have provided written submissions to the BC government regarding the BC carbon tax, which is currently under review by the BC Ministry of Finance.
The carbon tax was introduced in 2009 and was designed to be a revenue neutral tax on carbon emissions. In January 2011, the BC Government introduced several measures aimed at reducing the burden of carbon tax on certain BC property taxpayers. Notably, it provided a benefit of up to $200 for homeowners outside of the Capital Regional District, Greater Vancouver Regional District and Fraser Valley Regional District starting in the 2011 tax year. It also reduced property taxes for industrial and farm land properties. The measures are currently not available for any of these taxpayers situated on First Nation lands. The FNTC estimates that taxpayers from 35 taxing First Nations are affected.
In 2012, the Provincial government announced a comprehensive review of the carbon tax, including its revenue neutrality, and invited written submissions for consideration in the 2013 budget.
FNTC is recommending the provincial government develop a revenue-sharing agreement with tax-collecting First Nations so they will be able to implement similar carbon tax rebates to eligible residential, industrial and agricultural taxpayers. Another approach considered would have BC vacate the carbon tax field on First Nation lands in favour of First Nations so that First Nations can collect carbon tax revenues to provide for their own harmonized carbon tax program for eligible taxpayers and their members.
The Westbank First Nation Advisory Council (WFNAC), representing taxpayers at Westbank First Nation, has been active in pressing the provincial government for an equitable solution to the unfair application of the abatement program. The WFNAC have made a number of submissions to the government and political leaders, and their work is ongoing. Other interested stakeholders have also made submissions including the Sun Rivers Owners Association of Sun Rivers Resort Community on behalf of its 650 homeowners who live on Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc, near the City of Kamloops. The Association argues that the current system is unfair and discriminatory because Sun Rivers residents are ineligible for relief measures even though they are paying carbon tax and provincial taxes.
The submissions will be considered as part of the BC government’s 2013 Budget process.