The Conservative government took an important step Friday to ensure every Canadian family receives a large cheque in the mail in July.
Although the changes were announced last October, the proposed legislation that actually allows for the modified income splitting for families and the increase to the universal child-care benefit is only now starting its journey through Parliament.
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The Family Tax Cut — a move Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in part to fulfil a 2011 election promise — applies to the 2014 tax year and is already included in commercially available tax-preparation software and is being processed by the Canada Revenue Agency.
The CRA has the authority to enact tax cuts before enabling legislation has been passed — although in a memo sent out to staff, the agency says it must "stockpile" the claims of some eligible families until June, when the legislation is expected to pass.
The agency, on the other hand, cannot send out child benefit payments for the new, higher amounts without Parliament's formal go-ahead.
Benefits for children six and under go to $160 from $100 a month, and children from seven years to 17 become eligible for the first time for $60 a month payments.
The delay, however, is a planned one.
At the time of the announcement, the government said the enhanced benefits would start to accrue in January of this year, but the first payment would not be made until July — because of the anticipated time to enact the legislation.
That means every eligible family will receive a back payment of $360 in July per child, as well as that month's regular payment.
It's not clear why the government didn't introduce the bill sooner.
The federal government's newly introduced bill C-57
An Act to amend the Income Tax Act and the Universal Child Care Benefit Act and to make related amendments to
An Act to amend the Income Tax Act and the Universal Child Care Benefit Act and to make related amendments to (PDF KB)
An Act to amend the Income Tax Act and the Universal Child Care Benefit Act and to make related amendments to (Text KB)