ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - In today’s Newfoundland and Labrador budget, you won’t hear talk of tax increases on such things as cigarettes and gasoline — that’s all been done in the past.
There’s no mention of a new levy or any fee increases.
In fact, there’s nothing in the Premier Dwight Ball Liberal’s budget that can be seen as obvious tax increases that hit directly in the pocket of individual residents of Newfoundland and Labrador.
However, Finance Minister Tom Osborne announced some changes to taxation that he says will support citizens and businesses.
Included is a minimum five per cent reduction in the tax on automobile insurance over the next four years, increasing the exemption threshold of the provincial payroll tax, and introduction of a new tax credit for search and rescue volunteers.
From Budget 2018:
• The tax on automobile insurance will be reduced by two percent on Jan. 1, 2019; and by one per cent reductions on Jan. 1 in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
• The exemption threshold for the provincial payroll tax is being increased by $100,000 — from $1.2 million to $1.3 million. With this change a further 50 companies will be exempted under the new threshold and the remaining 1,200 companies will pay up to $2,000 less in tax.
• Support for first responders will see the introduction of a new search and rescue volunteer tax credit that will allow eligible search and rescue volunteers to claim a $3,000 non-refundable tax credit through their provincial income tax return starting on Jan. 1, 2019.
• There will be $73.1 million to maintain current tuition levels for Newfoundland and Labrador students at Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic.
• Funding for increased home-care supports for people with dementia.
• A province-wide palliative care approach with greater training for clinicians, service providers and caregivers.
• A “home-first integrated network” offering services for seniors, with an extension of nursing and other professional services beyond traditional work hours.
• Benefits will be enhanced for injured workers and their families by increasing the income replacement rate from 80 to 85 per cent, effective April 1. This will improve benefits without increasing the average assessment rate for employers. The maximum compensable assessable earnings for 2018 is $64,375.
• Children and youth placed into care: there will be $395,000 over the next two years for dedicated resources to develop adoption profiles for children and youth and to help complete the matching and approval process.
• As already announced there will be a new home purchase program where government will provide $3,000 grants towards the purchase of a newly constructed or never before purchased home under $400,000.
• A first-time homebuyers’ program to provide down-payment financing and includes a $2,000 grant for eligible first-time home buyers. The eligibility threshold is raised from $65,000 to $75,000 for full benefit and up to $85,000 for partial benefit.
• There will be free access to provincial historic sites in the summer months for youth under age 16.
• There is money allotted for legal support to survivors of sexual violence.
• There will be the establishment of a drug treatment court.
• $2 million for energy efficiency upgrades for low income households through the Home Energy Savings Program.
• $1.5 million for low-interest loans under the Energy Efficiency Loan Program.
• $3.1 million for reading specialists, learning resource teachers and instructional assistants in K-12 education.
• $40,000 in bursaries for K-6 teachers to upgrade math pedagogy.
• Operating grant funding for the province’s libraries.
• $730,000 for the Labrador Travel Subsidy program to offset costs for teams to travel to provincial championships.
• $250,000 for smoking cessation programs.
Full budget coverage:
- Newfoundland and Labrador struggles with debt, government forecasting surplus in 2022
- Budget 2018: Newfoundland and Labrador investing $2 billion in education, skill and childhood development
- Budget 2018: No start date yet for constructing new Waterford Hospital
- Budget 2018: Disaster spending goes up in Newfoundland and Labrador