Politics

Harper's Tories tout tax cuts but taxman nabs $3.4B more

Numbers released in response to query filed by Liberal MP Ralph Goodale

Tax Fraud Security 20150116

Newly released numbers tabled in the House of Commons s this week shows the government will make an additional $3.4 billion in 2015-16 as a result of various tax changes it has implemented. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

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Many Canadians may be looking forward to new federal tax measures helping their finances, but newly released figures show the government's own bottom line is getting a boost, thanks to a number of quiet tax and tariff changes.

Data introduced in the House of Commons this week shows the government will make an additional $3.4 billion in 2015-16 as a result of various tax changes it has implemented.

And those numbers don't include what the government is making on recently increased user fees for services like passports and immigration.

The $3.4-billion figure comes from data in an answer to a question on the order paper by deputy Liberal leader Ralph Goodale.

It's a telling answer, albeit an incomplete one, he said in an interview.

"It says that this government has been contrary to what they constantly assert -- that they only reduce taxes, they never increase taxes," he said.

Government's position 'entirely hypocritical': Liberal MP

"The evidence is that they have over the last number of years generated billions of dollars in increased taxes and they can deny all they like, but the evidence is clearly there in the answer to this question. So the government's position is entirely hypocritical."

Making up the $3.4 billion is everything from the removal of a deduction for safety deposit boxes to a decrease in the tax breaks for credit unions.

It also includes ongoing tax increases for items like tobacco and a bump in revenues from increased taxes on oil sands development.

The biggest chunk comes from the end of the child tax credit, which will give $1.75 billion back to the government.

That credit though is being replaced by the broader universal child care benefit and income-splitting provisions for families with children, which will cost the federal government $4.6 billion a year.

In its response to Goodale's question, the finance department says the overall federal tax burden to Canadians is at its lowest level in more than 50 years.

Some new revenue goes right back into business, government says

"The government has provided significant tax relief for individuals, families and businesses, further contributing to an environment where Canadians can succeed and Canadian businesses can grow, create new well-paying jobs and compete internationally," the department says in the answer.

In some cases, the department argues, the new taxes are a result of an attempt to streamline older programs, such as the new tax structure for scientific research programs, and the money is poured right back into business.

Though Goodale had asked for a breakdown of all new tariffs, service charges and fees since 2005, the government did not provide all of the data.

For example, last year the government raised passport fees from $87 to $120 for a five-year passport, and introduced a 10 year passport at a cost of $160.

That brought in $462.5 million in fees, numbers that are not included in the data provided to Goodale.

His office says they will be pursuing more detailed figures.

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