UPDATE: Finance Minister Wes Sheridan says he won't increase income tax exemption

Ryan Ross
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Finance Minister Wes Sheridan

Islanders looking for an income tax break will have to wait after Finance Minister Wes Sheridan said he won’t increase the basic personal income tax exemption.

He made the remarks in response to questions from Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward in the legislature Thursday where Aylward asked him to commit to raising the exemption.

Sheridan said he doesn’t think raising the personal income tax exemption is the best place to use tax dollars because people like himself would benefit when they don’t need it and there are better places to give Islanders tax relief.

“There’s a much better way to better focus those savings,” he said.

The basic personal amount is the level of income exempt from taxes and varies from province to province.

In P.E.I., the basic personal amount is $7,708, which is the lowest in the country and it’s not indexed to increase with inflation.

That pushes incomes that increase with inflation into a higher tax bracket and is known as bracket creep.

Alberta has the highest basic personal amount at $17,593.

Aylward said the government tied all of its fee increases to the consumer price index, which left Islanders poorer, while Sheridan refused to increase the tax exemption.

“It would be the simple way out. It would be the good thing to do,” Aylward said.

But Sheridan disagreed, saying it’s an issue he won’t look at until the province’s budget is balanced and that tax relief won’t come in the form of changes to the basic personal exemption.

He argued that people with higher incomes don’t the need the benefit that would come from increasing the basic personal amount and the focus should instead be on providing tax relief in other ways.

“I think we can better focus that on those who truly need and must have relief,” he said.

 

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

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  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    December 06, 2013 - 16:45

    So tell me and the other Islanders what EXACTLY are you doing DIRECTLY to help the poor that do not qualify for welfare assistance? WE NEED A GUARANTEED LIVING WAGE. Where is it? The POOR NEED A HAND UP, WHERE IS IT?

  • What comes after embarrassing?
    December 06, 2013 - 15:08

    Now that Newfoundland/Labrador is afloat, it's pretty clear we missed the boat on Atlantic Union. But there may still be a small window of hope for Maritime Union. Until this little village of less than 150 000 understands it's a little village of less than 150 000 we're going to spin in crazy circles like a punt ties to a 150 hp engine. May be entertaining, but useless to actually do anything or even get anywhere worth going . . .

  • just sayin'
    December 06, 2013 - 11:19

    The smart people will leave PEI and this goverment high and dry and move away. They have bullied the public around and you are allowing it by staying here. Better jobs and education are offered off island, sure you might want to visit here in the summer but beyond that I mean really why bother staying here? There really is no good reason to stay on PEI. I know I for one am leaving and will be missed. I got my education on PEI and it wasn't much of one. Too many teachers just there for the pay and not caring about their students. Addiction also a big problem because really what else is there to do on PEI but get smashed that's why it is best to move away and get busy and productive. PEI is a great place to raise your kids if you want them to be dumb and druggies.

  • Mirror, mirror above all . . .
    December 06, 2013 - 10:46

    As much as I loath this government for its arrogant subversion of democracy, this one decision is as close to a liberal decision this Liberal government has actually made. For the most part, PEI's Liberal Party acts like a corporate lap dog - Harperish to the core. And don't get me wrong, I generate enough income to benefit from raising the personal income tax exemption. But, like of my little children once said, "Mirror, mirror above all . . ."

  • Jason Peters
    Jason Peters
    December 06, 2013 - 07:53

    We pay the highest income tax rate in the country coupled with the lowest exemption. I would like to know in what way Mr. Sheridan does plan to give islanders tax relief. With four children ages 2 - 16 our combined income puts us in the highest bracket and we get little to no government assistance like GST rebate and family allowance. Year after year we are paying more for everything and getting less and less of the pie that we "the middle class" pay for.

  • Smug rule
    December 06, 2013 - 07:27

    Where did this Sheridan come from and what are his credentials? Not what he thinks his credentials are...the real ones.

  • Wayne
    December 06, 2013 - 07:09

    go "Wes" go, go "Wes" go, go "Wes" go, go west please Wes

  • Restructure income tax brackets
    December 06, 2013 - 00:15

    How about raise the lowest bracket up and to compensate for the tax revenue loss by providing some relief to those who make under $64,000 annually, create a few more brackets above $64,000 at higher interest rates---- 17.5% for $64k - $80k, 19.5% for $80k - $100k and 21% for over $100k.

  • Mr Bean
    December 05, 2013 - 20:11

    Wouldn't Will Ferrell make the greatest parody of Wes. I can already see it now...

  • dave anger
    December 05, 2013 - 19:06

    You wonder why people are leaving P.E.I, wake up with your let them eat cake attitude!

    • Yeah right
      December 05, 2013 - 21:39

      I thought it was due Windows 7.

  • Take the money and run?
    December 05, 2013 - 18:47

    I wish there was a question and answer feature in The Guardian. For example, as pensioner making about $43 000 a year, and with the personal income tax exemption being $7,708 here and $17,593 in Alberta, wouldn't I be better off moving out west? Or, for that matter, even Nova Scotia?

    • HMmmm
      December 05, 2013 - 21:37

      You may have noticed, that unlike Alberta, we can't create a massive ecological disaster to fund paying less tax.

    • To HMmmm
      December 06, 2013 - 07:53

      To HMmmm: You're right, we can't create a massive ecological disaster. But if Plan B has proven anything, we would if we could!

  • don
    December 05, 2013 - 18:42

    Wes you are a bully just like your lord and master but remember bigger men then you 2 have fallen hard. Your day will come sooner then you think. God will punish those who take from the poor but you are stealing from the poor but doing as you say “legally”. But from this day forward i hope every time you move you see people that can not afford food,pills, oil. But then i guess you and ghiz needs a HEART and a CONSCIOUS. But we all know you and ghiz do not. The mighty will fall. Wes where is our 10 million from OCI, and the money we lost on the humburg deal, and the millions from the farmer up wast that owes the tax payers millions? Or are you going to right that off? Oh yes what about the 4 million you donated to the loto plus the interest on all the money you GAVE AWAY? I wonder how long before you give more money away to the rich friends of the liberal party? And to think you sit in your chair with that little smirk thinking how can i screw islanders again. And you and the rest of your family and friends of the liberal party is NO ISLANDERS. YOU SHOULD NOT EVEN BE CALLED CANADIANS. My family has been on PEI for over 8 generations. How many have you been here ? You are and never will be an islander. Disgraceful. and then you will be taking another pay increase and more new cars. and to think i'll love this part all the kids growing up in the liberal gang will have this all passed to them in school etc as you guys being the WORSE government in canadian history i am sure the kids will be proud. and the bullies will have a good time with them and who's fault will it be guess who. look in the mirror.

    • Polar foods
      December 05, 2013 - 21:35

      Nuff said.

  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    December 05, 2013 - 18:33

    Reality Flash there Wes not everyone is hauling home a 6 digit salary . Some of us could stand to pay a little less personal tax . We all don't get free flights or have a car provided with a pretty hefty TAX FREE expense account ,not to mention the ton of other perks that go with the office . The majority of us will not have a fat pension if any ,to fall back on come next election

  • Sentance
    December 05, 2013 - 17:55

    Sheridan is correct that cutting the basic personal exemption would benefit a lot of individuals higher up on the income scale. Doing something like increasing the HST rebate would be a better idea.

    • Sentance, a few more sentences please . . .
      December 06, 2013 - 14:53

      If a person isn't earning enough to spend on anything but the very basics, how can increasing the HST rebate be a better idea? I sense you're correct, just don't understand why.

  • The Observer from Stratford
    December 05, 2013 - 15:22

    Wonder if IRAC will be asked to write his rationalization of the unrational?

  • grapefruit
    December 05, 2013 - 15:16

    Wes: You might consider lowering the Provincial Tax Rate to Island residents and increasing the Tax Rate on businesses. This will put more money in islanders pockets , whereby they will spend into the Island economy. Businesses are not reinvesting the dollars from the low taxation rate that the current Government applies. How far do you think you can go in the increase taxation on Island residents. We have had enough .please cut expenses . Forget about by-pass around Cornwall and all the rest of your foolish spending.

    • JP
      December 06, 2013 - 08:32

      He's already raised business taxes!

  • Islander
    December 05, 2013 - 15:14

    Is this the comedy section of the newspaper????

  • Fed up
    December 05, 2013 - 15:00

    Of course he won't.... does this surprise anyone?? They are quick to increase everything else..... including their salaries!