New taxes and benefits: Alberta budget 2015 highlights

CALGARY – The NDP government released its 2015-2016 budget Tuesday afternoon. Here are some of the highlights for Albertans.

Cigarettes

The tax on a carton of cigarettes will go up by another $5 to $50, effective at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. The tax on loose tobacco will rise 3.75 cents to 37.5 cents per gram. The tax on cigars will be increased to 129 per cent of the taxable price of the cigar, with a minimum tax per cigar of 25 cents and a maximum of $7.83.

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READ MORE: Alberta budget – What’s in it for Calgary?

Liquor

Liquor mark-ups will increase by five per cent as of Wednesday. So, consumers will pay two cents more for a bottle of beer, on top of the eight cents added in the March budget; and 18 cents more for a bottle of wine, on top of 16 cents added in March. The budget says the mark-up structure was “refined to promote made-in-Alberta products.”

Fuel

The locomotive fuel tax is jumping four cents effective Nov. 1.

The NDP didn’t touch taxes on what we pay at the pump, since the Progressive Conservatives’ increase of four cents in March. The PC government said at that time Alberta’s gas tax hadn’t been increased since 1991 and remains the lowest in the country.

READ MORE: Winners and losers of the 2015 Alberta NDP budget

Insurance premiums

There will be a one per cent increase to the insurance premiums tax, which takes effect April 1, 2016. The NDP noted it was also proposed in March.

The increase will mean a three per cent tax on premiums for life, accident and sickness insurance; and a four per cent tax on premiums for other insurance. The government estimates these increases will generate an estimated $158 million in revenue in 2016‑17.

READ MORE: Calgary cancer centre, Edmonton hospital funding still falls short

Tax breaks for the poor

A new Alberta Child Benefit and changes to the Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit mean families with incomes of $0 to $41,220 a year will be eligible for supplements for each child, to a maximum of $2,750 per year starting July 1, 2016. This is slightly different than the PC’s proposal, which set a minimum income requirement to be eligible for the tax credit. The NDP says the ACB will help support 235,000 children and their families.

The NDP government previously reversed a number of other fees introduced by the PCs in March, including a health levy that applied to people making more than $50,000 a year and fee increases for land titles, motor vehicles, vital statistics, and public land rent for dispositions. The NDP also previously announced it would freeze post-secondary tuition this year and for two more years beyond.

READ MORE: Calgary, Edmonton ring roads to see $2.9B over 5 years, says Alberta budget

Watch below: ‘It was challenging’: Finance Minister Joe Ceci on putting together Alberta budget 2015

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify the fuel tax increase is for locomotive fuel.

©2015

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