New Brunswick’s Tax Freedom Day came later than most other provinces

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Appeared in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner, July 3, 2024
New Brunswick’s Tax Freedom Day came later than most other provinces

If you paid all your taxes up front, what day in the year would you stop working for the government and start working for yourself? According to a new study published by the Fraser Institute, Tax Freedom Day in New Brunswick this year was June 15.

Yes, when totalling all of the various income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, sin taxes, environmental taxes and other taxes paid to all levels of government, New Brunswickers will work nearly half the year just to pay their tax bill. Specifically, the average family will pay 45.2 per cent of its total income in taxes.

And New Brunswickers must work a bit longer than the average Canadian family to pay their tax bill, as national Tax Freedom Day this year landed on June 13. Only three provinces have Tax Freedom Days later than New Brunswick this year. At a time when New Brunswickers are struggling with the cost of living, a high and rising tax burden adds to their challenge.

This should not come as a surprise, given that tax rates in New Brunswick are high. On personal income tax rates, New Brunswick generally ranks in the middle of the pack among Canadian provinces, but compared to all jurisdictions in North America, New Brunswick is near the top. New Brunswick also has the highest sales taxes in Canada, and the third-highest business taxes (a fact any New Brunswicker who runs a small business knows all too well).

There is some good news. Compared to its neighbouring provinces, the New Brunswick government is in a strong fiscal position, with a balanced budget and a trend toward lower debt. This means the government is in a better position to reduce taxes than Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Quebec, which are running deficits and adding government debt, increasing the chances of tax hikes in the future.

Given that New Brunswickers pay 41 per cent of their total taxes to the provincial government (54 per cent goes to the federal government, 5 per cent to local governments), the Higgs government has an opportunity to meaningfully lower the tax burden on New Brunswickers. While recent provincial budgets have brought modest tax relief, the overall burden remains high.

Following the spring budget, Finance Minister Ernie Steeves promised tax cuts in the future. With an election on the horizon, New Brunswickers should be interested in the tax plans of all parties. And whether or not Tax Freedom Day in New Brunswick will come sooner or later in the years ahead.

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