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N.S. premier stands by claim new tax break biggest in province’s history

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Nova Scotia's finance minister delivered his budget for 2024 on Thursday, hitting on a number of areas of need.

“The number one ask by Nova Scotians in this year‘s budget consultation was for tax relief and they’re going to get it,” says Allan MacMaster.

Nova Scotians are getting indexing of personal income tax brackets, the basic personal amount and non-refundable tax credits to inflation beginning Jan. 1.

Wording on the budget handout goes as far as to claim, "It will be the largest tax break in the province’s history and will save Nova Scotians about $150-$160 million per year in taxes by 2028.”

When asked about the validity of the statement, minister MacMaster eased off.

“I would go back to that language and I would be a bit more humble about it,” he says.

Independent MLA and former Nova Scotia Conservative Party member Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin isn’t buying the claim.

“I think that’s very misleading,” she says.

Smith-McCrossin says while indexing brought Nova Scotia in line with the rest of the country, the government didn't go far enough to address other income tax issues.

“They did not increase the basic personal tax exemption,” she says. “We have the lowest in the country so now that we are finally indexing things, the same as every other province in the country, we still have the lowest basic personal tax exemption, so we remain the highest taxed province in Canada.”

By a lot, according to Franco Terrazzano, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“One thing though, Nova Scotians are still overtaxed. If you look at New Brunswick that just brought in significant income tax relief, well someone in New Brunswick who is earning about $75,000 a year well they are paying $1,700 less in provincial income tax than the same taxpayer here in Nova Scotia,” Terrazzano says.

Despite the criticism and second-guessing, Premier Tim Houston stands by the claim his government is giving Nova Scotians the largest-ever tax break.

“This is an incredible form of tax relief for Nova Scotia, absolutely incredible. I personally believe it is the biggest. The finance minister might be humble,” Houston says.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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