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21 ways the federal budget will hit Canadians’ wallets

In a budget notable for its lack of big-ticket tax changes, we find all the reasons you should still care about what the Liberal plan means for you and your family
Julie Cazzin and Vickie Campbell

1. Employment Income (EI) premiums are going up to $1.68 per $100 of insurable earnings from the current $1.63 per $100 of insurable earnings.

2. The tax credit for Public Transit Tax Credit on passes will be eliminated effective July 1st.

3. Tighter rules on investment products you can and can’t hold in your Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP). Strict investment rules had already been outlined for RRSPs and TFSAs. Make sure you’re holding allowable investment products, otherwise the penalties are onerous.

4. The CRA will continue to receive more funding in 2017 to ensure every Canadian is playing by the tax rules and claiming all eligible taxable income. For 2017, the federal government will be spending an additional $523.9 million on top of the $400 million they spent last fall to track tax cheats and collect money from tax evaders both in Canada and around the world.

5. Excise duty rates on alcohol products are going up by 2 per cent effective right now. That means, if you spend $3,000 a year on wine and booze, that will increase by $60 to $3,060.

6. An excise tax increase on cigarettes will cost a bit more too. Look for a 2.5% increase, or about 53 cents on every 200 cigarettes. Tobacco sticks, if you’re into them, are also going up.

7. Uber rides are also going up as ride-sharing services now have to charge GST/HST on your ride—13% in Ontario.

8. Canada Savings Bonds will be phased out and no longer available for sale starting this fall.

9. Extending who qualifies for the tuition tax credit to include occupational skills courses that are not at a post-secondary level. As long as the student is over age 16, any institution that provides added skills will qualify for the credit.

10. Those aiming to conceive children can claim in-vitro fertilization expenses. In the past you had to have a medical reason to do so. That’s not necessary anymore. You can also elect to claim in-vitro related expenses over the preceding 10 years to spread the tax burden.

11. Medical costs can now be claimed in any of the preceding 10 years to when they were received.

12. The new Caregiver tax credit will replace three tax credits now in place—the Infirm dependent credit, the caregiver credit and the family caregiver tax credit. The credit starts to be phased out when the dependent’s income is over $16,163 net income and completely phased out at $23,046. The maximum tax credit amount is $6,883 for those caring for infirm dependents, and can include parents/grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, adult children, spouse or common-law partner. So if you look after your great-aunt, you can claim $6,883 as a credit on your taxes

13. Nurse practitioners can now certify application forms for people applying for the disability tax credit.

14. There’s a new Affordable Access Program that allows internet providers to offer low-cost home internet packages along with a refurbished computer to low-income families.

15. There’s a total expenditure of $29.5 million starting in 2018 for Digital Literacy Exchange programs that teach basic digital skills, including internet safety to low-income Canadians, seniors and those living in northern and rural communities.

16. Expanding eligibility for Canada Student Loans and Grants for part-time students, as well as Canada Student Grants for Students with dependent children.

17. Proposes to create a new Employment Insurance caregiving benefit. This new benefit will give eligible caregivers up to 15 weeks of EI benefits while they are temporarily away from work to support or care for a critically ill or injured family member. (You only receive it now if a family member is dying.)

18. A new Veterans’ education and training benefit will be put in place. The new program begins in April 2018 for veterans honourably released on or after April 1, 2006. Veterans with six years of eligible service would be entitled to up to $40,000 of benefits, while veterans with 12 years of eligible service would be entitled to up to $80,000 in benefits.

19. To help adult learners pursue post-secondary education, the federal government is expanding eligibility for Canada Student Loans and Grants for part time students as well as student grants for those with dependent children

20. Eligible home relocation loans when an employee starts work at a new location more than 40 km away is eliminated.

21. Electronic T4 information slips are on track to be distributed for 2017, provided the employer has sufficient privacy safeguards. This means you can now check your computer for T4 tax slips (many won’t come in the mail anymore). CRA is working towards easier tax filing as many tax slips will be downloadable to your tax software for an easier time at tax time.

The bottom line: What can we say, it’s a work-in-progress budget. There really wasn’t much that was new or innovative for the average Canadian. Probably the best that can be said is that a lot of negative things that were expected to materialize didn’t happen—no increase in the capital gains tax inclusion rate, no increase in marginal tax rates, no change in the dividend tax credit and no changes to pension splitting. So let’s raise a glass to that… even though it will cost us a little more this year to do so.


Correction: an earlier version of this story said EI premiums will rise to $1.69 per $100 of insurable earnings. In fact, premiums will rise to $1.68. Maclean’s regrets the error.