With its 2016 budget, the Government of Alberta laid out the overall scope of a carbon tax rebate program. Since then, the provincial government has been trying to set Albertans at ease about the hit they will take from the upcoming carbon tax by suggesting that its impact will be largely limited to households that can most afford it, while most people will be compensated for the additional tax through a rebate program. But is this really the case?
Today, The School of Public Policy and authors Jennifer Winter and Sarah Dobson released a report that examines the income distribution of Albertans, to determine how the rebate and income cutoffs affect different types of Alberta individuals and families and determine who will receive a rebate.
According to Winter, “Based on 2013 data on median incomes, single-parent families, elderly families and single Albertans are all groups where a majority of households will receive rebates. But, the overall impact of tax and rebate on a few groups might be of concern – especially single people who make somewhat less than an average income. Depending on their energy use, these people will potentially not receive a rebate that covers the additional cost imposed on them by the carbon tax and might have to look seriously at their energy use. Families with higher incomes will be less likely to receive a rebate. Therefore, they will need to be conscientious about energy use. But, if there are any winners in this, it seems that low income Albertans, may, in fact, receive more in rebates than they will pay in tax. If the government’s goal is to ensure equity in the carbon tax and rebate system, it will have to look carefully at new 2016 data and be willing to adjust the system in order to ensure that it remains fair, and does not become a form of income redistribution,” said Winter.
The paper can be downloaded at http://www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/?q=research