Late last week the Ministry of Finance released the first quarterly report that provides an updated overview on B.C.’s Finances to date as compared to the original 2012 budget targets.
As I believe it is important that all BC taxpayers have an awareness of British Columbia’s current fiscal position, I would like to provide some greater detail in this regard.
Provincial revenues to date are currently $ 377 million below the BC Budget 2012 forecast of $ 43.1 Billion while on the other side of the equation, spending is currently $ 87 million above budget meaning that the forecast budget deficit for 2012 will increase based on these numbers.
While the increase in spending is primarily attributed to emergency flood and fire related costs the decrease in revenue is largely from decreased taxation amounts particularly in resource royalty areas such as natural gas.
It is also interesting to note on a case by case basis how specific areas of taxation can change as a result of current trends. For example fewer people smoking in B.C. has resulted in a $ 10 million reduction in forecasted tobacco tax revenue.
Although B.C. leads Canada in the creation of new jobs, overall personal income tax revenue is still down some $ 16 million, illustrating the importance of private sector jobs in our provincial economy. Natural gas revenues have decreased by $ 241 Million while coal, metal and mineral royalties are also down a further $ 51 million.
Fortunately there were some increases, forestry revenue to Government is up $ 10 million and likewise corporate income tax revenue has also increased by $ 20 million. As this is only the first quarterly update, later reports will optimistically yield higher revenues in some areas given recent positive employment gains and increased economic and investment activity.
On a somewhat related theme, I have heard a variety of comments, questions and at times suggestions on B.C.’s moving back to the PST and the overall time frame.
Currently hiring is underway to staff the additional administration positions required for the return to the PST and likewise B.C. is also in the process of creating eTaxBC that will allow for the online administration, tax return filing, payment and other self-serve options. New telephone technology is also currently being sourced that will link to call centers located in Victoria and Vancouver.
There are also efforts underway to ensure that from an administrative and user standpoint, in many respects BC PST will have similar reporting guidelines as GST/HST as this will help ensure a smoother transition for those newer businesses that were not previously involved with BC PST. In the coming months watch for seminars and other information related announcements in this area or contact my office directly if there is a particular question or area of interest.
Before I close this week I would like to share that the B.C. Youth Parliament’s 84th Parliament will be held in Victoria at the Legislature from December 27 to 31, 2012. The Youth Parliament is a province-wide non-partisan organization for young people between the ages 16 to 21.
The Youth Parliament promotes citizenship skills through participation in the December parliamentary session and in community service activities throughout the year. Participation in the BC Youth Parliament is a one year commitment and I would like to invite eligible youth to consider this opportunity. To learn more about this unique experience please visit the www.bcyp.org/joinus.html, website. The program application deadline is October 23, 2012.