Federal budget revamps child and family tax benefits
New programs to target supports based on income
Ottawa is revamping tax benefits for families with young children by putting more money in the wallets of low- and middle-income families starting in July.
However, the changes announced Tuesday in the federal budget will see families earning more than $150,000 a year generally receive less under the new Canada Child Benefit program.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said nine out of 10 families will receive more than they do under the existing programs.
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"That is money in the pockets of Mom and Dad," he said. "Money that can go directly to eating healthier food, paying the rent and buying new clothes for back to school."
The new program will pay up to $6,400 per child under six and up to $5,400 per child for those aged six through 17. However, the benefits begin to phase out starting at $30,000 in net family income.
Under the current system, families with $30,000 in net income and one child under six would have received $4,852 in child benefits and $3,916 if the child is six through 17.
The changes were a key plank in the Liberal campaign platform.
They replace the current Canada Child Tax Benefit, National Child Benefit and Universal Child Care Benefit.
Ottawa is also eliminating income splitting for couples with children as well as phasing out the children's fitness tax credit and the children's arts tax credit.
The fitness and arts tax credits, worth up to $150 and $75 respectively for those who claim them, will be cut in half for 2016 and eliminated for 2017.
Boost for low-income seniors, students
Those moves come as Ottawa also makes changes to some of the tax credits for students and increases the guaranteed income supplement for single seniors starting in July.
The government is eliminating the education and textbook tax credits effective next year because it said they were not targeted based on income. The tuition tax credit will remain unchanged.
Education and textbook tax credits carried forward from years before 2017 will still be claimable in 2017 and subsequent years.
Kevin Dancey, president and chief executive of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, says the child benefit program is targeted at lower income Canadians, with benefits being reduced as incomes rise.
"They had to do that because, as it stands, the cost of that program is still more than they initially thought," he said.
Dancey said it was the same story with the elimination of the education and textbook tax credits.
"That's gone and the replacement is really loans and grants and bursaries for middle and lower income," he said. "It is a lot about targeting, it started in December and we've seen more of it in this budget."
The government is also cancelling plans introduced in the Conservative budget last year that would have allowed donations of real estate and shares of private corporations to be included in the income tax exemption on capital gains for donations. The exemption had been slated to start next year.