Taxes on individuals fall into two broad categories: progressive and regressive.
Progressive taxes are those that rise with a person's ability to pay.
If you make more money, you pay more taxes.
This is how income tax is applied (without all the deductions, of course, for things like RRSPs and tax-free savings accounts).
Regressive taxes are imposed equally on everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.
Liquor and tobacco taxes are two such examples. No matter how much or how little you earn, you're going to fork over the same tax for a pack of smokes or a bottle of booze.
Under the B.C. Liberals, there's been a marked preference for imposing regressive taxes since they took power in 2001, according to recently pubished research on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives website.
"Looking at the sum of all taxes paid by households (including income tax, PST, MSP, fuel, tobacco, property taxes and the carbon tax), regressive taxes made up 65 per cent of the total in 2016 compared to 56 per cent in 2000," write researchers Iglika Ivanova and Alex Hemingway. "In contrast, income tax—BC’s fairest tax—has fallen from 44 per cent of all personal taxes in 2000 to 35 per cent today."
According to the CCPA, the highest one percent of income earners paid a slightly higher effect tax rate in 2000 than the rest of the population.
But by 2016, this group of high-income earners (making a minum of $403,454 per year) paid a lower effective tax rate, on average, than the 90 percent of people at the bottom end of the income scale.
"The income tax cuts of the early 2000s were touted as a policy benefitting all British Columbians," Ivanova and Hemingway point out. "In fact, however, the benefits were skewed to top earners. Any savings going to middle-income earners were offset by sharp increases in regressive taxes like MSP (which has more than doubled since 2000), property tax and carbon tax."