Saskatchewan

Province eliminates tax rebates for kids' sports, music classes

Families with children in sports, dance classes and other recreational programs may have to pay more taxes this year.

Active families benefit cut to save government $5.5M annually

Dance classes were among the activities previously covered under the active families benefit. The Saskatchewan government cancelled the rebate on Wednesday. (Briget Yard/CBC)

Families with children in sports, dance classes and other recreational programs may have to pay more taxes this year.

The Saskatchewan government is ending the active families benefit, a move it says will save provincial coffers $5.5 million per year.

The change was announced in Finance Minister Kevin Doherty's 2016-17 budget, released on Wednesday.

The tax credit rebated parents $150 per child under 18 involved in qualifying activities. It was intended to be a subsidy on registration fees.

Doherty said people weren't taking advantage of the tax credit, adding other organizations such as SaskSport and the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund are already helping low-income families access recreational activities.
Finance Minister Kevin Doherty said there are other organizations in Saskatchewan that already help get low-income families involved in recreational activities. (Adam Hunter/CBC)

"This program wasn't doing what it was intended to do and in discussion with the minister of parks, culture and sport, there are other ways we could provide funding through the mechanisms we have in place now," Doherty said.

"There are millions of dollars going into those funding agencies through the lottery system … and are there ways we can work with them through organizations like KidSport and Creative Kids, to provide financial provisions to reduce those barriers for low-income people."

It's the second year in a row spending on the subsidy was cut back.

Last year, the government ended the universality of the program and started income-testing to determine who would receive it.

The cutoff family income set in last year's budget was $60,000. Now nobody gets the subsidy.

The province says it's making the change to cope with tough financial times. The provincial budget includes a $434 million deficit.

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