Alberta carbon tax to end May 30

The new Alberta UCP government introduced legislation today to kill the contentious carbon tax, eliminating extra costs for home heating and fuel.

The government says the tax will officially be scrapped on May 30 at 12:01 a.m.

Premier Jason Kenney said the repeal will free up a tax burden of nearly $1.4 billion, as well as create 6,000 jobs, saving the average small business $4,500 per year and the average family $1,150 annually.

The job creation number is based on estimates done by Stokes, an economics and consulting firm, but the numbers could change if the federal levy is implemented.

“We’re keeping our commitment to eliminate this tax grab to create jobs and put more money back into the pockets of hard-working Albertans,” Kenney said in a news release.

Team Alberta, which represents the main crop commissions, estimates the tax cost $2.5 to $5 million for grain drying in 2018 province-wide.

Despite the tax being scrapped, however, it still isn’t clear over what will happen to the programs funded by the levy.

Funds have gone to agricultural programs, helping farmers install solar panels, efficient cattle waterers or upgraded irrigation systems to reduce costs.

As well, they’ve funded Energy Efficiency Alberta, an agency that doles out the funds for energy savings programs, like new light bulbs and windows.

A UCP official said all programs funded by the levy are under review, but any changes will be announced when they are made.

For now, Energy Efficiency Alberta will remain intact, though Kenney has previously suggested the agency could be scrapped,

He has pointed to the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction regime as a way to tackle climate change.

As for the carbon tax, the change in legislation means any funds that have been collected, but not yet spent, can be used for whatever the government deems necessary, like general revenue.

Prior to the change, carbon tax money was required to be spent on green programs.

With the new legislation, the government will give fuel re-sellers, like gas stations and bulk fuel dealers, 30 days to apply for a refund on carbon tax they paid on their inventory.

Previously, fuel re-sellers were required to pay the tax to the refineries they sourced their products from.

Fuel users and re-sellers can continue to apply for any outstanding rebates and refunds following the repeal. They will only have two years to do so.

The small business tax reduction funded by the levy is expected to remain in place.

Any Albertans who have received rebate cheques won’t need to refund them.

However, the federal carbon tax could be applied to Alberta once the provincial levy is scrapped.

Kenney said he would take the federal government to court if the federal levy is imposed.

Contact jeremy.simes@producer.com

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