Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled his sixth budget in Parliament today. You can find plenty of print, broadcast and online coverage in the mainstream press but if you are so inclined, you can read the entire 352-page document here. For readers who would rather undergo a root canal than read a budget document, here are the highlights of measures that directly impact your pocketbook:
A summary of measures that will directly affect your pocketbook can be found on Page 10. They include: higher transfer payments to seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), forgiving loans to health care workers in remote communities, new Family Caregiver, Children’s Arts and Volunteer Firefighters tax credits, an extension of the ecoENERGY retrofit program.
The Government is proposing a ban on unsolicited credit card cheques to assist consumers in managing their debt levels (Page 87).
A New Guaranteed Income Supplement Top-up
Effective July 1, 2011, single seniors who are receiving an annual income (other than OAS and GIS) of $2,000 or less will receive additional annual benefits of $600. The top-up will be gradually reduced and completely phased out at an income level of $4,400. For senior couples, the additional benefits are worth $840 and the bottom and top thresholds are $4,000 and $7,360 respectively. (Page 109).
New Tax Credits
A $2,000 non-refundable Family Caregiver Tax Credit (worth $300) for caregivers of infirm dependants who currently receive one of the following dependency-related credits: the Spousal or Common-Law Partner Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Eligible Dependant Credit, the Caregiver Credit or the Infirm Dependant Credit. The measure will apply for the 2012 tax year. (Page 114).
Eliminate the $10,000 limit currently applicable for claims under the Medical Expense Tax Credit for the 2011 tax year. (Page 115).
A $500 (worth $75) non-refundable Children’s Arts Tax Credit for children under the age of 16 years registered in a qualifying supervised activity. Despite the name, the credit will apply to eligible “artistic, cultural, recreational or developmental” activities. For children eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, the age limit is 18 years and the tax credit is increased by an additional $500. (Page 118).
A $3,000 non-refundable Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit (worth $450) for volunteer firefighers who perform at least 200 hours of service in a year. (Page 119).
The budget contains numerous measures that tweaks the rules concerning RESPs, RDSPs, Tuition Tax Credits and Charitable donations. We’ll look into these in future posts.