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Consumers should get to see math behind carbon tax surcharges: advocates

File Photo.
File Photo. Credit/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Just over a week since Alberta’s carbon tax was introduced, some of the cost is already being passed along to consumers.

Line-item surcharges attributed to the levy have already started to appear on bills and invoices from some Alberta companies. While business owners’ efforts at transparency are being applauded, consumer advocates would like a closer look at the math behind the added surcharges.

READ MORE: Lloydminster businesses say Alberta carbon tax creates uneven playing field

“It must be very clear to us how they’re arriving at those calculations and they must be standard throughout the industries,” said Bruce Cran, with the Consumers’ Association of Canada.

Amber Ruddy, with the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, said highlighting the tax is an alternative to simply raising the prices of goods and services, but agreed businesses need to be careful on how they pass on that cost.

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“I think [what] they’re trying to do is be more transparent and accountable,” she said.

“You can’t wait until you start paying it to then figure out, ‘how am I going to recoup some of those costs?’”

READ MORE: Alberta coal customers stock up ahead of carbon tax

LISTEN: Amber Ruddy on wether there’s a political motivation behind line-item surcharges tied to the carbon tax

Ruddy said the cost on invoices or bills might reflect what the business is projecting its costs to be. She said business owners may also face some indirect costs tied to the carbon tax.

Bruce Cran told News Talk 770 the government of Alberta should come up with a formula that would help businesses dealing with the carbon levy determine how much they need to charge to recoup some of the costs.

“Businesses shouldn’t be able to each form their own method of charging us,” Cran said.

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READ MORE: Drivers can do these 5 things to conserve fuel amid Alberta’s carbon tax

LISTEN: Bruce Cran on why the government needs to come up with a formula for businesses that will allow them to arrive at an appropriate surcharge tied to the carbon tax

For her part, Ruddy believes it would be difficult to come up with a standard formula because costs can “vary drastically by industry and by type of business.”

Cran argued if consumers aren’t able to see the math behind the surcharges, there is no way for Albertans to determine whether they are being gouged.

READ MORE: Alberta carbon tax kicks in: ‘It’s already here, we can’t do anything about it’

With files from News Talk 770’s John Himpe