50+ tax relief measures since Canada’s Harper Conservatives came to power

Middle Class signThe 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.”

For example, a family of four is now paying approximately $3,400 less in taxes than before the Conservatives were elected at the end of January 2006.

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Canada Employment Credit: The Canada Employment Credit was introduced on July 1, 2006 and increased to $1,000 in 2007.
  5. Cost of Tools: Small business tradesmen were able to deduct the cost of tools up to $500 for costs in excess of $1,000.
  6. Textbook Credit: A Textbook Tax Credit was introduced up to $65 per month.
  7. Scholarship Exemption: Elementary, secondary and post-secondary student scholarship and bursary income were exempted from tax.
  8. 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.
  9. Pension Income Credit: The Pension Income Credit was doubled to $2,000 from $1,000.
  10. 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%)
  11. 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.
  12. Public Transit Credit: Introduced the Public Transit Tax Credit, effective July 1, 2006.
  13. Capital Gains Exemption: Eliminated capital gains tax on donations of publicly listed securities and ecogifts to public charities.
  14. Capital Gains Increase: Increased the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption to $800,000 and indexed the new limit to inflation.
  15. Fishing Gains Exemption: Extended the $500,000 lifetime capital gains exemption and intergenerational rollover to fishing property.
  16. Permanent Residence Fee: Reduced the Right of Permanent Residence Fee from $975 to $490.
  17. Mineral Exploration Credit: Extended the 15% mineral exploration tax credit to March 31, 2007.
  18. Working Income Tax Benefit: Introduced the Working Income Tax Benefit (P.230 in 2015 ).
  19. Donations on Private Corporations: Eliminated the capital gains tax on donations of publicly listed securities to private foundations.
  20. Lifetime Increase for RESPs: Increased the lifetime contribution limit to $50,000 for Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs).
  21. Eliminated RESP limit: Eliminated the RESP annual contribution limit.
  22. Expanded RESP Access: Expanded access to RESP savings for part-time studies.
  23. RESP Asset Sharing: Provided subscribers of separate individual RESPs with the same flexibility to allocate assets among siblings as exists for subscribers of family plans.
  24. Child Tax Credit: Introduced the Child Tax Credit (initial amount of $2,000) which does not affect UCCB.
  25. Child Tax Credit Change: Eliminated the one-per-household rule for the Child Tax Credit.
  26. Spousal/Dependant Increase: Increased the spousal and eligible dependant amounts from $7,581 to $8,929.
  27. Capital Gains Exemption: Increased the lifetime capital gains exemption from $500,000 to $750,000.
  28. Truck Drivers Meal Deduction: Gradually increased the deduction for meal expenses of truck drivers from 50% of the allowable amount in 2006 to 80% in 2011.
  29. RDSP/Disability Savings Plan: Introduced the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), effective 2008.
  30. RDSP Flexibility: Increased flexibility to access RDSPs for beneficiaries with shortened life expectancies.
  31. 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.
  32. Allowed RESP to RDSP: Allowed investment income earned in a RESP to be rolled over on a tax-free basis to an RDSP.
  33. RDSP Limits Increased: Increased the maximum withdrawal limits that apply to certain RDSPs.
  34. 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.
  35. RRSP Post-death Relief: Introduced tax relief for RRSP post-death losses.
  36. Northern Resident Deduction: Broadened the northern residents deduction to include the District Municipality of Mackenzie (British Columbia).
  37. 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.
  38. Mineral Exploration Tax Credit: Extended the 15% mineral exploration tax credit to March 31, 2015.
  39. 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)
  40. 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).
  41. 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.
  42. Age Credit Increase: Increased the Age Credit amount by $1,000, effective 2009.
  43. Home Renovation Tax Credit: Introduced the temporary Home Renovation Tax Credit on expenditures in excess of $1,000, but not more than $10,000.
  44. First-time Buyers Tax Credit: Introduced the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit, based on an amount of $5,000.
  45. Home Buyer’s Plan: Increased the Home Buyers’ Plan withdrawal limit to $25,000 from $20,000.
  46. 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.
  47. Family Income Splitting: Introduced Family Income Splitting tax credit up to $2,000 (Link).
  48. Seniors Pension Income Splitting: Pension income can now be split between partners up to the allowable amount, approximately $50,000 per annually.
  49. Child Custody Benefits: Improved the allocation of child benefits between parents who share custody of a child.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. Tuition Tax Credit: Included professional or trade examination fees in the definition of eligible tuition for the Tuition Tax Credit.
  54. 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.
  55. Foreign Rental Vehicles: Reduced taxes on foreign-based rental vehicles temporarily imported by Canadian residents, effective June 1, 2012.
  56. Adoption Tax Credit: Enhanced the Adoption Expense Tax Credit to better recognize the costs of adopting a child — up to $15,000 in 2014.
  57. Charitable Super Credit: Introduced a charitable donation “Super Credit” in 2014.

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Endnote: Just as with my various Harper Government Accomplishment Lists (see here, here and here), 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.

Listed here are PDF files on the various annual Conservative federal budgets since the spring of 2006: Budget 2015Budget 2014Budget 2013Budget 2012Budget 2011Budget 2010Budget 2009Budget 2008Budget 2007, and Budget 2006.

Conservative Gov’t of Stephen Harper responsible for Canada’s prosperity!

Click image for full CBC credit.

Click image for full CBC credit.

While no Western democratic government is perfect (as I complained yesterday when I wrote about an alleged problem with the Veteran’s Charter), the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper is better than most.

It is better than most because the Prime Minister and his Cabinet promote, with everything they say and do, a trade and job creating investment atmosphere that is forward-looking and dynamic. I mean, the EU trade deal is an example of an outcome that comes from that approach.

As Philip Cross, Senior Fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute and former Stats Can Economic Analyst, wrote in today’s Financial Post:

“[In Canada] the impulse to grow and expand is the natural state of business and the economy….[In fact] in my 36 years at Statistics Canada following every twist and turn of the economy, I don’t recall a single week where firms committed to so many large projects taking years to build and generating billions of dollars for decades to come.”

In other words, Canada is booming (particularly in Alberta).

The other good news, as John Ivison writes in today’s National Post, the Tories will balance their budget by 2015/16, if not a year ahead of that with a $3.7 billion dollar surplus. That type of surplus would allow them to lower taxes further and offer young families the split income option they promised in the 2011 election campaign once the budget was balanced.

I mean, who among us does not want more of our own money left in our pockets? Well, it seems, liberals and progressives don’t because the leaders of both parties have already said they would increase taxes. Justin Trudeau has talked about a carbon tax and Tom Mulcair has talked about increasing corporate taxes.

The thing is, Corporations don’t pay taxes. People do. Plus people also pay more for products and services to make up for increased taxes. Plus, corporations employ people. If expenditures get too high, they lay people off. And, who would those “people” be?  The middle class that both opposition leaders say they want to help.

Speaking of the middle class, imagine, there are a million more Canadians working now than in July 2009! Moreover, the unemployment rate keeps dropping. A year ago the rate was 7.4% while it is now at 6.9%.

So, while I hope the government gets the problems worked out regarding the Veteran’s Charter soon, and finds a way to do something about the “entitled” Senate, I am pleased to support a political party and its elected officials that are not only good fiscal managers, but promise keepers as well.

To understand what a promise-breaking free-spending, tax loving federal government would have on our country’s hard-earned prosperity, look no further than Liberal/NDP governed Ontario!

Welcome NewswatchCanada.ca and C/P Jack’s Newswatch.

Is Conservative Gov’t abandoning most vulnerable veterans?

Click for CTV item.

Click for CTV item.

It appears that the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper, deliberately or inadvertently, has abandoned some of the men and women who, while risking their lives for this country, have been badly wounded mentally or physically or both.

How?

Well, a few months after the Conservative Party was elected in January, 2006, following up on a campaign promise, they passed the new Canadian Veterans Charter or Bill of Rights into federal law on April 4th of that year.

In fairness to the previous Liberal Government, however, consultations had been ongoing for a number of years. As well, as I recall, there was much fanfare at the time of the implementation because all three main political parties voted in favour saying changes had been long overdue.

So, if no excuses, how can we account for the fact that a political party that was pro-military and a government that has increased military spending over the last seven years by at least $5 billion dollars (even after reductions), is now short-changing our veterans? I mean, how much of that increase is actually going towards veterans programs and services — or is it all going to the Department of Defence?

Regardless of where the money is going, the Veteran’s Charter appears to be a disaster for the most vulnerable. Check out the Ombudsman Report (H/T CTV), particularly the summary on pages 8-10:

  1. There are inadequate supports for veterans trying to transition to a civilian career;
  2. There are insufficient financial supports for veterans once they reach 65; and
  3. There are insufficient lifetime financial allowances because pensions been replaced with lump sum payments.

For example, regarding # 2 and 3, Dan Scott (H/T JNW) was injured by an anti-personnel land mine in Afghanistan in 2010. He lost two organs and injured another. So, it doesn’t take much imagination to realize he is going to require health care services and financial assistance for the rest of his life.

Of course, Scott had thought he could count on a veteran’s lifetime pension because that is the way it has been for the last hundred years. I mean, my grandmother told me she received a veteran’s survivor’s pension after my grandfather was killed in 1917 — a very modest pension she collected until her death in 1960.

Yet, for Scott’s dedication and commitment to his country, his country sent him a cheque in the mail for $42,000.

Now, think about that for a moment. Imagine, instead of being injured serving his country, Scott had received his injuries in a car accident at home. What do you suppose his pay out would be from his insurance company? Certainly not what he got. More likely one or two million.

There are, unfortunately, many more such examples. Which means, the verb abandoning is right on the money.

The crux of the matter is, then, that since citizens who vote conservative tend to respect their military, it would not be an exaggeration to suggest that this issue could lose the current government their majority in 2015.

We honoured our veterans yesterday. Let’s also honour them tomorrow with a Bill of Rights they can rely on.

[…]

Update: Wednesday, November 13th: Here is a National Post column by Shaun Francis about doing more for our military than wearing a poppy on Remembrance Day. It touches on many of the issues raised here. If things are not as they seem, the PMO should get out front of this matter and make sure the problems are corrected now.

The Senate scandal is NOT a Harper Gov’t scandal!

 

Credit Sam at Teaching Kids News.

Credit Sam at Teaching Kids News.

In case, there is any misunderstanding, given what I wrote yesterday in my anger over the latest Senator Mike Duffy allegations, I wish to point out that Prime Ministers of Canada do NOT control what Senators do or don’t do.

In other words, just as former PM Jean Chretien cannot be held responsible in any way for former Liberal Senator Raymond Lavigne, Mr. Harper is not Mr. Duffy’s boss! Nor is he Pamela Wallin’s boss. Nor is he Patrick Brazeau’s boss.

Actually, there is a precedent on who does what in the Senate. In 1999, during the time Mr. Chretien was Prime Minister, the Senate voted to suspend Andrew Thompson for chronic absenteeism. In other words, it was not a Liberal Government scandal and the media did not presume that it was.

Therefore, PM Harper is in no way responsible for what his appointees do or have done — no matter how many times the media and opposition try to make it so.

To put it another way: The current Senate scandal is NOT a Harper scandal, nor is it a Conservative Government scandal. It is a “Senate” scandal.

This Wikipedia entry describes the relationship between the Senate and the House of Commons under our Constitution. What it reveals is that, even though Senators are appointed by our Governor General, on the advice of the standing prime minister, the Senate (the Upper House) takes precedence over the House of Commons (which is the Lower House). For example, it states in my link:

“The Senate is the upper house of parliament and the House of Commons is the lower house. This does not, however, imply that the Senate is more powerful than the House of Commons, merely that its members and officers outrank the members and officers of the House of Commons in the order of precedence for the purposes of protocol. Indeed, as a matter of practice and custom, the Commons is by far the dominant chamber. Although the approval of both houses is necessary for legislation, the Senate rarely rejects bills passed by the directly elected Commons. Moreover, the government is responsible solely to the House of Commons; the Prime Minister of Canada and the rest of Cabinet stay in office only while they retain the confidence of the Commons; the Senate does not exercise any such control. Although legislation can normally be introduced in either house, the majority of government bills originate in the House of Commons. Under the constitution, money bills must always originate in the House of Commons.”

I will repeat two things: The “government” is responsible solely to the House of Commons and the Senate’s members “outrank” members of Parliament. So, who is the head of today’s “government?” Prime Minister Harper. Where do Mr. Harper’s leadership and internal responsibilities lie? Within the House of Commons.

In fact, even that last point is debatable  given the PM is not responsible for the behaviour of opposition leaders or their caucus.

Anyway, it is thanks to the Harper Government that Canada is doing so very well economically — no matter how much that reality is ignored by the mainstream media and no matter how hard the media and opposition try to convince Canadians that the current government is just as corrupt as the last Liberal ones.

Are they perfect? Of course not. Do they make mistakes? Yes, But are they corrupt? Have Conservative government members or the Conservative Party of Canada done anything resembling the Sponsorship Scandal? No, they haven’t.

The crux of the matter is that, in order to debunk the blame the media and opposition are trying to throw at the Conservative government regarding Senate issues, Canadians need to understand who does what in our parliamentary system.

So, just as the Raymond Lavigne and Andrew Thompson Senate issues were not a Chretien Liberal Government scandal, the Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau scandals are NOT a Harper Government scandal either!

However, as I said earlier, the Senators under an RCMP investigation now, are representative of a scandal — a Senate scandal!

PM Harper said major shuffle would be at half way mark

HarperWhy are so many of the media going on and on about this latest cabinet shuffle? Check out this Google page. I mean, the PM has said all along that he would make a major shuffle at the half way mark in this mandate — which is now.

So, check out the new Cabinet at this updated House of Commons page. There is something there for everyone to either complain about or celebrate.

Such is politics in Canada today — and no doubt why so many of us, no matter what our political leanings, are fed up with it all!

Yet, in spite of being fed up, many of us realize that Mr. Harper is one of the best, if not the best, PM Canada has ever had. Unfortunately, that reality will likely be left to the historians to acknowledge.