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Finance minister beats back Pallister's income-tax-exemption idea

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PALLISTER to NDP: Lift your tax boot off the backsides of Manitobans.

NDP to Pallister: Take your foot out of your mouth.

That sums up the exchange Wednesday between Progressive Conservative Opposition Leader Brian Pallister and the governing NDP at the Manitoba legislature.

Heading into his first PC annual general meeting as party leader this weekend, Pallister called on the Selinger government to immediately raise the basic personal tax exemption -- the amount at which people start paying income taxes -- to put a little more cash in Manitobans' pockets.

Specifically, he said the basic exemption should rise from $8,634 to the Canadian average of $10,617, a move that would save every Manitoban about $200 a year and save a lower-income couple $430 a year. "We want the NDP to take their boots off the backs of the working poor of the province, and we think this change should be adopted immediately," Pallister said.

But Finance Minister Stan Struthers responded that such a move would rob the provincial treasury of $140 million.

"Clearly, Mr. Pallister did not think through his proposal today," Struthers said, adding Pallister's idea would take money from schools, hospitals and infrastructure.

Pallister shied away from questions on whether he supported a harmonized sales tax as in Ontario and British Columbia. It would harmonize Manitoba's seven per cent sales tax with the five per cent federal GST.

Struthers was quick to pounce. The NDP has said the HST would cost Manitoba consumers $400 million more a year.

"Mr. Pallister pretends to be concerned about the Manitoba family, but at the same time would not rule out bringing in the HST," Struthers said.

Pallister said raising the income tax exemption would take some of the sting out of what he called the NDP's "tax grab" last spring when the government extended the seven per cent provincial sales tax to personal services.

 

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Basic personal amounts by province (2012):

Alberta$17,282

Saskatchewan$14,942

British Columbia$11,354

Quebec$10,925

Federal$10,822

Ontario$9,405

New Brunswick$9,203

Manitoba$8,634

Nova Scotia$8,481

Nfld./Labrador$8,237

P.E.I$7,708

-- Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 25, 2012 A7

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