Tax gap has B.C.ers driving south for gas: watchdog

Enormous price gaps between gas in B.C. and Washington State have drivers heading south to fill up their tanks, a citizen watchdog says.

As of Thursday, Metro Vancouver residents were paying close to $1.50 per litre for gas, with $0.49 of that price going to taxes – the second-highest on the continent, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

But drive roughly 30 minutes south and you’ll see a stark difference in gas prices – especially in tax.

Washington State drivers are blessed with what works out to a $0.15 CAD per litre gas tax, resulting in cheaper gas, said Jordan Bateman, the CTF’s B.C. director.

“Lower Mainland gas prices would be competitive with the U.S. if our tax burden wasn’t three-and-a-half times heavier,” Bateman said.

That’s because without taxes, prices between Metro Vancouver and Washington are virtually identical, he said.

Gas is just one of a number of products drawing Canadians across the border of late – groceries, cars and flights are all generally cheaper in the U.S.

“We prefer to spend our money in Canada, but we can’t do it,” Bateman said. “Things are just so much cheaper in the United States because of taxes.”
Trips to Washington’s Whatcom Country last year exceeded 15 million – a high not seen since 1997.

The CTF advocates scrapping the much-maligned carbon tax and doing away with the federal GST tax-on-tax to lower gas taxes, saying it would save Canadians more than $0.09 per litre at the pump.

Montreal is the only city with higher gas taxes than Vancouver at $0.50 per litre.