The Alberta UCP have tabled legislation protecting taxpayers and businesses against tax hikes absent a referendum.
Bill 1, the Alberta Taxpayer Protection Amendment Act, fulfills an election promise by Premier Danielle Smith that any tax hikes from the province would first receive consensus from voters.
"Albertans are not interested in higher taxes and that’s one of the reasons they elected us in the spring: we promised to reduce the taxes they pay and protect them from future tax increases," said Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.
Since 1995, the Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act only required a referendum before a bill imposing a general sales tax can be introduced in the legislative assembly.
"We are building a strong economy and the stronger that economy is, the higher tax revenue we receive, all while keeping taxes low," said Smith.
According to a government news release, Bill 1 would protect Albertan taxpayers and businesses — who already pay the lowest taxes nationwide.
In 2023, a family with two children earning $75,000 would pay over $1,700 more in taxes in B.C. and $4,200 more in Ontario. A similar family earning $150,000 would pay over $5,300 more and about $8,900 more in each province, respectively.
"With low personal income tax, a suspended fuel tax and no sales tax or health premium, Albertans generally pay lower overall taxes than residents of any other province," it reads.
If passed, Bill 1 would also prevent the government from reducing personal income tax bracket thresholds or basic personal, spousal and equivalent-to- spouse credit amounts without a referendum.
"This is good for all Albertans and I’m proud to table this legislation," added Smith.
During the 2022/23 fiscal year, Alberta received more corporate tax revenue ($8.2 billion) than ever before, as the number of business incorporations in the province increased in three consecutive years. Alberta’s general corporate income tax rate (8%) is 30% lower than the next lowest province, contends the UCP.
This is "further evidence that Alberta remains a strong place to start and grow a business," said the press release.
Finance Minister Nate Horner praised the legislation for protecting "Alberta’s tax advantage" and committing to a "pro-growth environment."
According to Kris Sims, the Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), the bill is a "landmark win for taxpayers" as it "sets Alberta apart when it comes to respecting taxpayers' money."
Another taxpayers group, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), also chimed in on the proposed legislation.
"Alberta small businesses continue to struggle with economic recovery and are faced with new challenges that are putting cost pressures on their business," said Annie Dormuth, the Alberta provincial affairs director for the CFIB.
In CFIB’s post-election survey, 80% of Alberta small businesses said they supported amendments to the Taxpayer Protection Act.
"The Alberta Taxpayer Protection Amendment Act, 2023 will provide Albertans and Alberta small businesses with greater certainty of any future tax increases, which they cannot afford," she added.