BCTA lobbies for industry friendly tax measures

VICTORIA — As the B.C. government makes plans for next year’s budget the B.C. Trucking Association made sure the trucking industry’s concerns will be considered.

On Sept. 22, the BCTA submitted pre-budget recommendations to the provincial government that cover refinements to the carbon tax, harmonized sales tax (HST), the motive fuel tax exemption and the subsidization of TransLink.

BCTA has previously promoted using a portion of the carbon tax to provide incentives for the industry to more widely adopt fuel-efficient equipment and technologies. Earlier in 2009, the Trucking Industry Climate Change Working Group, in which BCTA played a leadership role, provided a report to the government that also included a comprehensive set of recommendations to incent reduced fuel consumption and related GHGs.

The pre-budget consultation provided another opportunity to reiterate the positive benefits of giving back a portion of the industry’s carbon tax contribution to help implement the Working Group’s recommendations.

The BCTA also recommended the provincial government allocate the additional carbon tax collected from diesel fuel in the last two years of the five-year plan (i.e., 1.28¢/L beginning July 1, 2011 and 2.56¢/L beginning July 1, 2012) to providing energy-efficiency financial incentives for the trucking industry to help it make the transition to more fuel-efficient technologies and devices.

Although BCTA supports implementation of the HST, the association does recognize that some sectors, including moving and storage and the private tourism bus sector could experience negative impacts.

“In particular, these sectors face competition from those that illegally operate at cut-rate prices by avoiding a variety of taxes, including payroll taxes and Workers Compensation Board premiums, and jeopardizing worker safety,” says the association. “To avoid strengthening the underground economy and punishing legitimate companies that are required to charge HST, BCTA recommended that the provincial government develop a robust strategy to encourage tax compliance.”

When B.C.’s renewable fuels mandate becomes effective on January 1, 2010, the provincial government will eliminate the motive fuel tax exemption for biodiesel.

BCTA argues, however, that voluntary adopters often chose biodiesel blends higher than the provincial five-percent minimum but are unlikely to do so without additional incentive.

“Users of higher biodiesel blends would help fuel sellers to achieve the five-percent average required for the province and would be more likely to purchase higher-level blends if the exemption remains in place,” notes the association.

Lastly, in a reversal of TransLink’s current approach to transportation planning, BCTA recommended that TransLink receive no further taxation power or funding. Instead, the association would like to see a transportation plan that: takes both future transit and the road and bridge system into account; defines performance measures; clearly demonstrates improvements to the overall transportation of people and goods; sets up principles of fairness, equity and value-for-money in imposing taxes and fees; and provides creative strategies for reducing operating costs and making better use of existing infrastructure.

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