50+ tax relief measures since Canada’s Harper Conservatives came to power
The Conservative Government, with Stephen Harper at the helm, needs another majority mandate on October 19, 2015 because they are the only federal political party that doesn't think they know better how to spend our hard-earned money, particularly those of us in the “Middle Class.”
There is an old saying, something to the effect, that the proof is in the pudding, or in the eating of the pudding. Below — in both topic and chronological order — are some 50+ tax relief highlights of the pudding we are now eating. (Please note the various federal budgets are listed in the “Endnotes”).
The Conservative Tax Relief Record:
The GST: The GST rate was reduced from 7% to 6%, effective July 1, 2006 and from 6% to 5% effective January 1, 2008. In 2015, the government also maintained the GST quarterly credit for low and middle-income Canadians (P.230 in 2015).
Personal Income Taxes: The lowest personal income tax (PIT) rate was reduced to 15.5% from 16%, effective July 1, 2006 and to 15% in later years.
Personal Exemptions: The basic personal exemption amount has increased each year — from $8,148 to $8,648 for 2005, from $8,428 to $8,839 for 2006, from $8,713 to $8,929 in 2007, from $9,278 to $9,299 in 2008, and from $10,110 to $10,131 — up to $11,327 in 2015.
Canada Employment Credit: The Canada Employment Credit was introduced on July 1, 2006 and increased to $1,000 in 2007.
Cost of Tools: Small business tradesmen were able to deduct the cost of tools up to $500 for costs in excess of $1,000.
Textbook Credit: A Textbook Tax Credit was introduced up to $65 per month.
Child Fitness Credit: The Children’s Fitness Tax Credit was introduced in 2007 for up to $500 in eligible fees per child, doubled in 2014 and made refundable in 2015.
Pension Income Credit: The Pension Income Credit was doubled to $2,000 from $1,000.
Corporate Dividends: Tax on large corporation dividends was reduced (by increasing gross-up to 45% from 25% and dividend tax credit to 19% from 13.3%)
Medical Expenses: Increased the maximum Refundable Medical Expenses Supplement from $767 to $1,000 and expanded the list of eligible expenses under the Medical Expense Tax Credit to include blood coagulation monitoring devices and their disposable peripherals.
RDSP Flexibility: Increased flexibility to access RDSPs for beneficiaries with shortened life expectancies.
RDSP Guardianship: Allowed parents, spouses, and common-law partners to open RDSPs for an adult individual who might not be able to enter into a contract.
Allowed RESP to RDSP: Allowed investment income earned in a RESP to be rolled over on a tax-free basis to an RDSP.
RDSP Limits Increased: Increased the maximum withdrawal limits that apply to certain RDSPs.
Age Limit Increased: Increased the age limit for maturing Registered Pension Plans (RPPs) and Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) to 71 years of age from 69.
RRSP Post-death Relief: Introduced tax relief for RRSP post-death losses.
Northern Resident Deduction: Broadened the northern residents deduction to include the District Municipality of Mackenzie (British Columbia).
Traveller’s Exemption: First, increased the 48-hour travellers’ exemption from $200 to $400 and then from $400 to $800. Also increased the 24-hour travellers’ exemption from $50 to $200.
Mineral Exploration Tax Credit: Extended the 15% mineral exploration tax credit to March 31, 2015.
Tax Free Savings Account: Introduced the Tax-Free Savings Account, effective 2009 up to $5,500 which was increased to $10,000 in 2015 budget (P.233 in 2015)
GST/HST Disability Exemption: Exempted from GST/HST specially designed training to assist individuals in coping with effects of a disability or disorder and expanded the list to include medical and assistive devices (e.g., service dogs).
Tax Bracket Increases: Increased upper limit of the first Income Tax bracket from $38,832 to $40,726 in 2008 and $77,665 to $81,452 in 2009.
Age Credit Increase: Increased the Age Credit amount by $1,000, effective 2009.
Home Renovation Tax Credit: Introduced the temporary Home Renovation Tax Credit on expenditures in excess of $1,000, but not more than $10,000.
First-time Buyers Tax Credit: Introduced the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit, based on an amount of $5,000.
Home Buyer’s Plan: Increased the Home Buyers’ Plan withdrawal limit to $25,000 from $20,000.
Universal Child Care Benefit: Increases to the UCCB in 2015 to include children up to age 18. Increased from $100 per month for children under 6 to $160 and $60 a month for children aged 6 to 17.
Family Income Splitting: Introduced Family Income Splitting tax credit up to $2,000 (Link).
Child Custody Benefits: Improved the allocation of child benefits between parents who share custody of a child.
Children’s Art Tax Credit: Introduced the Children’s Arts Tax Credit for up to $500 per child in eligible fees and an additional $500 non-refundable amount for DTC-eligible children.
Volunteer Firefighter Credit: Introduced a Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit, based on an amount of $3,000 for volunteer firefighters who perform at least 200 service hours.
Family Caregiver Tax Credit: Introduced a Family Caregiver Tax Credit, based on an amount of $2,000 for caregivers of infirm dependants and removed the $10,000 limit that applies on the amount that caregivers can claim under the Medical Expense Tax Credit on behalf of certain dependants.
Tuition Tax Credit: Included professional or trade examination fees in the definition of eligible tuition for the Tuition Tax Credit.
Foreign Student Credit: Reduced the minimum duration requirement that Canadian students studying at foreign universities must meet to claim the Tuition, Education and Textbook Tax Credits or receive Educational Assistance Payments from RESPs.
Foreign Rental Vehicles: Reduced taxes on foreign-based rental vehicles temporarily imported by Canadian residents, effective June 1, 2012.
Adoption Tax Credit: Enhanced the Adoption Expense Tax Credit to better recognize the costs of adopting a child — up to $15,000 in 2014.
Charitable Super Credit: Introduced a charitable donation “Super Credit” in 2014.
Endnote: Just as with my various Harper Government Accomplishment Lists (see here, here andhere), this list was put together by an individual (Sandy) who has no connection to the federal government or federal Conservative Party. No doubt, there are tax relief measures I have missed, particularly corporate and those for small businesses. However, in my opinion, 50+ tax relief items are enough for Canadian voters to realize what they would lose if the opposition NDP and Liberals were to gain a foothold on power in Canada with a coalition type arrangement.