De Omni Scribili

Scribblings Of Ed Wiebe

BC Carbon Tax Calculator

Compare what you spend on beverage container deposits to the carbon tax.

Carbon TaxDistance Driven
Vehicle Efficiency
(l/100 km)
Distance Driven
(per year)
(per year)
Distance & Fuel
per week
Carbon Tax ($/l)   
Cost ($ per week) 3.52 

< 1 L
≥ 1 L
(per week)
($ per week)

The tax on gasoline is currently $0.1761/L and on diesel, $0.2074/L.

ContainersCarbon TaxDifference
Cost Per Year ($) 156.00183.14-27.14
You may receive the carbon tax credit. See below.

Find the fuel ratings for your vehicle here.

In the province of British columbia we pay a carbon tax on fuels like gasoline and diesel. We also pay a deposit on each beverage container we buy (almost each). You know those little tiny juice boxes that you send with your child to school? The deposit is ten cents each for those. Are you returning them for a refund?

a recycle bin with refundable items in it.

[NOTE 2024-06-02: This paragraph remains from the time this was originally posted, in 2018. The carbon tax rates have increased since then. Various rates have been adjusted above. Recently the typical carbon tax is larger than the default container deposit return. Also, this calculation does not include the income dependent carbon tax rebate from the provincial government (see below).] Since many people simply discard their returnable containers instead of returning them for reimbursement I thought it would be instructive to compare the relative sizes of these two fees. I wonder if many of the people discarding their containers are people who also complain about the carbon tax? The photo at right of a recycle bin at the roadside is representative, found while out for a walk in the neighbourhood. It holds at least 55 cents worth of refundable items. That's enough to drive more than 100 km in my car.

Province of British Columbia information on the Carbon Tax.

[2024-06-01] BC Climate Action Tax Credit

Budget 2024 increased the B.C. climate action tax credit amounts and the threshold amounts effective July 1, 2024.

For the July 2024, October 2024, January 2025 and April 2025 payments, the maximum annual amounts will increase to:

  • $504 for you
  • $252 for your spouse or common-law partner (or for the first child in a single parent family)
  • $126 for each child (except the first child in a single parent family)

[2015-09-19] I've recently learned that in Manitoba consumers pay a fee on each container (there's a different system for beer) of two cents. This is not returned to the consumer as the similar fee is in British Columbia. There is more info available on this topic.

[2015-08-21] Here's a paper investigating the fairness of the carbon tax from the persective of how people from different income categories are affected. In summary, it is fair.
Beck, M, et al, 2015. Carbon tax and revenue recycling: Impacts on households in British Columbia, Resource and Energy Economics, 41, pp 40-69, doi:10.1016/j.reseneeco.2015.04.005

[2014-05-25] More commentary on cross-border shopping. It's not much affected by the BC Carbon Tax.

[2013-08-18] What about those cross-border shoppers?

[2013-06-27] There's some interesting commentary on BC's carbon tax on the Skeptical Science website.

Your British Columbia provincial income taxes have been reduced by an amount that on average compensates you for the carbon taxes we pay. If you earn too little to see a reduction on your income taxes you receive a payment* from the province each quarter year (just as was done for the HST that so many people decided was a bad idea). Note that the deposit you pay on beverage containers comes back to you only if you return the containers for a refund.

Note that the $115.50 refunded per adult below the minimum income threshold pays for the carbon tax on 1730 litres of gasoline. That's enough to drive about 21 500 km per year in a typical car. Low income earners are probably not paying any carbon tax, especially in two adult, one car families. They might be heating their homes with fuel oil or natural gas which is not included in these estimates.

If the difference between the totals in the summary table at the top is red then you are paying more for the carbon tax than the beverage fee. Otherwise you are paying less.

Notice that improving the efficiency of your vehicle and driving less both reduce the amount of carbon tax you pay and the carbon emissions you put into the atmosphere. This is the entire point of this tax. By putting a price on the harmful pollution (carbon dioxide gas) that's going into the atmosphere emitters are given the choice of emitting and paying or stopping some or all of their emissions and saving money.

Finally, there are other fuels on which you may pay a carbon tax. One example is home heating oil which is charged at the same rate as diesel oil. It's easy to work out from the amount of fuel you buy how much tax you are paying. It should help motivate you to convert your home heating system to something more efficient that emits less carbon dioxide.

*Called the Low Income Climate Action Tax Credit this non-taxable payment provides an annual maximum of $115.50 for each adult and $34.50 for each child ($115.50 for the first child in a single parent family). The maximum credit is reduced by 2 per cent of net income in excess of $31 711 for single individuals and $36 997 for families.


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