Budget 2015 is, surprise, primarily a political document that extolls the government’s record and highlights tax cuts, but does almost nothing to deal with rising inequality or to shape the trajectory of the struggling economy.
As expected, annual contributions to Tax Free Savings Accounts are to be almost doubled to $10,000 per year, which will cost over $300 million in lost annual revenues within five years. The increase will eventually all but eliminate taxation of investment income, to the primary benefit of the very affluent earning more than $250,000 per year who collect almost half of all capital gains and dividends subject to tax.
Posted by NationBuilder Support · April 21, 2015 12:34 PM
OTTAWA—The 2015-16 federal budget contains costly measures that will exacerbate economic inequality and see billions flow to Canada’s wealthiest families while leaving the majority of Canadians with no benefit at all, says the Broadbent Institute.
Posted by NationBuilder Support · April 20, 2015 4:29 AM
OTTAWA—Executive Director Rick Smith will be in Ottawa to react to the 2015-16 federal budget. The budget is widely expected to contain measures that will exacerbate economic inequality, including family income splitting and the doubling of TFSA contribution limits.
Posted by NationBuilder Support · April 20, 2015 3:07 AM
1. Family Income Splitting
The federal government plans to spend about $2-billion per year on family income splitting that will mainly benefit high-income, traditional families with a stay at home spouse, to a maximum amount of $2,000 per year. There is no benefit at all from income splitting for single parents, or for two parent families in which both earners are in the same tax bracket, including the middle and bottom income tax brackets; these families with children under 18 represent over half of all families that are the apparent target of the scheme, according to the Broadbent Institute study, The Big Split. Meanwhile, the large savings will go to families with one partner in the top tax bracket and a stay at home spouse with a tax rate of zero. This big pre-election tax cut will directly increase income inequality.
The federal Budget to be introduced on April 21 should have one clear priority – to boost public and private investment so as to create jobs now and a more productive and sustainable economy tomorrow.
The slowing Canadian economy continues to be mainly driven by household borrowing fuelled by ultra low interest rates. With wages stagnant, families are still going deeper into and deeper into debt to spend more than they earn, setting the stage for a nasty housing crash and a rude shock to family finances down the road.
There are many factors other than federal government policy that strongly influence the quantity and quality of Canadian jobs including resource prices, business decisions, the state of the American and the global economy, and the actions of provincial governments to name a few.
That hasn’t stopped Stephen Harper and his Conservative government from trumpeting their record as good economic managers and pursuing a successful jobs and growth agenda. Harper’s supposedly “steady hand” on the economy is central to Conservative election messaging and his perceived economic acumen a frequent talking point of the mainstream press.
So on the eve of the tabling of the federal budget for 2015-16 and during this election, it is relevant to ask: has the job market improved under Harper’s watch from 2006 to 2014?
The Harper government claims to be paragons of fiscal virtue. They have pledged to balance the federal budget this year, notwithstanding a slowing economy, and are likely set to announce details of the balanced budget legislation promised in the 2013 Speech from the Throne.
The promised legislation will disallow annual deficits in “normal economic times” (whatever they are) and “set concrete targets for returning to balance in the event of an economic crisis.”
In the run-up to the delayed federal budget, there is a strange disconnect between fiscal policy and our changing economic circumstances. Balancing the budget seems to remain the key political priority, as if nothing had changed.
But the collapse of oil and other resource prices has changed a lot. Most notably, the Bank of Canada has, unexpectedly, cut interest rates to take out “insurance” against a serious slump in our resource-dependent economy. TD Economics forecast slow growth of just 2.0% this year, and have projected that unemployment will rise by 0.2 percentage points in the next few months.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said that he will not run a deficit unless and until Canada falls into an outright recession, something we would know only in hindsight.