CRA to audit Saskatchewan for not collecting carbon tax on home heating

‘We don’t believe there’s any dollars that are owed,’ said Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.

CRA to audit Saskatchewan for not collecting carbon tax on home heating
The Canadian Press / Liam Richards
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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe appears unbothered by a pending audit into the province, over his decision to not pay federal carbon taxes.

On Monday, Moe announced a Canada Revenue Agency audit is coming, after months of back and forth with Ottawa on the issue of tax fairness.

“They will ask if they can look at the submissions we’ve made and for us to submit money they estimate may be owed,” he told reporters. 

“We don’t believe there’s any dollars that are owed.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week the agency is “very, very good” at getting money owed and wished Moe “good luck” in dealing with them.

The Government of Saskatchewan refused to collect tax revenues on home heating earlier this year after Ottawa only exempted heating oil from the levy last October. Notable exclusions include natural gas.

Moe considered the tax relief selective in its application and politically motivated to specifically boost Liberal support in Atlantic Canada.

80% of households in Saskatchewan use natural gas to keep warm, whereas 3% of the homesteads that use heating oil reside in the Prairies. 

"We’re just asking for fairness," Crown Investments Minister Dustin Duncan earlier told reporters.

Federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre toured the country on Axe the Tax messaging, calling for a tax revolt. A Leger poll last November showed that 57% of Canadians want Ottawa to remove the carbon tax from everyone’s home heating bills. 

Saskatchewan had until February 29 to submit tax revenues to the federal government, but refused, breaking federal law.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault have repeatedly warned the Government of Saskatchewan of ‘retaliatory measures’ for not collecting carbon tax revenues.

“On the decision by the Government of Saskatchewan to not pay its taxes to the federal government … we are a country of laws,” Trudeau earlier told reporters. “We expect people to obey the law,” he said.

When discussing the agency’s ability to collect revenues, Moe contends they may face problems collecting the money, pending legislative changes to the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Act.

The most recent federal budget contemplated amendments to the act that would allow federal officials to share information about provinces that withhold carbon taxes.

Information would be shared “for the purposes of evaluating potential action,” it reads.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault forewarned decisive action against Saskatchewan for not collecting carbon tax revenues.

“If Premier Scott Moe decides that he wants to start breaking laws and not respecting federal laws, then measures will have to be taken,” he told reporters on March 5.

“It’s irresponsible and it’s frankly immoral on his part,” he said.

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