The Forever Tax: How High Will TransLink’s Sales Tax Climb?

February 25, 2015
  • No expiry date for TransLink Mayors’ sales tax
  • Mayors’ plan still $140 million short every year – will the new sales tax go up?

VANCOUVER, B.C.: The TransLink sales tax, being pitched by TransLink Mayors during this spring’s Lower Mainland plebiscite campaign, has no end date and no guarantee that it won’t increase in future years, the No TransLink Tax campaign noted today.

Since its formation, several TransLink taxes have increased dramatically:

  • In 2001, the average TransLink property tax bill per household was $59. Last year, it was $238. TransLink plans 3 per cent annual increases going forward.
  • In 1999, the TransLink parking tax was 7 per cent. Today, it’s 21 per cent.
  • In 1998, TransLink’s precursor was funded by a 4 cent/L gas tax, and did not receive any gas tax revenue from the federal government. Today, TransLink’s direct gas tax is 17 cents/L plus 5 cents/L of Ottawa’s share – that’s 22 cents/L.

“TransLink has never met a tax it didn’t love to raise. Just look at its history with the property tax, parking tax and gas tax,” said Jordan Bateman, B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and spokesperson for the No TransLink Tax campaign. “This TransLink sales tax, by the TransLink Mayors’ own admission, is a forever tax. And you can bet it will go up.”

There is nothing preventing TransLink, the provincial government, or TransLink Mayors from seeking hikes to the sales tax. As YES side strategist Bill Tieleman said in a CKNW interview: “Any government can raise taxes if they wish and they have in the past. Governments change taxes all the time.”

Further, even with the TransLink sales tax, the mayors still need $140 million more in year 10 to fund their wish list (see page F-5), making the sales tax an obvious target for an increase.

“Taxpayers will be on the hook when TransLink runs short again, and hiking this TransLink sales tax will be the easiest place for them to extract more,” said Bateman. “This TransLink sales tax will be with us forever – long after these mayors have come and gone, we’ll still be paying for their wish list and TransLink waste. We need to stop this tax before it starts by voting NO in this plebiscite.”