Trudeau’s tax changes sock­ing it to the poor

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - OPINION - LICIA CORBELLA

Justin Trudeau swept into power in 2015 with the prom­ise of mak­ing life bet­ter for poor and mid­dle-class Cana­di­ans. A new study on the ef­fects of the Trudeau gov­ern­ment’s changes to the fed­eral in­come tax sys­tem shows the prime min­is­ter has bro­ken that prom­ise in a spec­tac­u­lar way.

In­deed, the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s in­come-tax changes are sock­ing it to the poor, the mid­dle class and ev­ery­one else. Less money for all. Not a very win­ning elec­tion slo­gan.

The Fraser In­sti­tute re­port, Ef­fect of Fed­eral In­come Tax Changes on Cana­dian Fam­i­lies Who Are in the Bot­tom 20 Per cent of Earn­ers, shows that of the bot­tom 20 per cent of in­come-earn­ing Cana­dian fam­i­lies with chil­dren, al­most two-thirds, 61 per cent, are pay­ing more in­come tax to­day than they were be­fore Trudeau came to of­fice.

“We were very sur­prised with these find­ings,” said Charles Lam­mam, one of the re­port’s three au­thors.

In fact, dur­ing his elec­tion vic­tory speech on Oct. 19, 2015, Trudeau vowed to build a gov­ern­ment de­voted to “grow­ing the econ­omy, cre­at­ing jobs and strength­en­ing the mid­dle class, one that is de­voted to help­ing less for­tu­nate Cana­dian fam­i­lies work their way into the mid­dle class.”

His tax changes are do­ing the ex­act op­po­site.

Of the bot­tom 20 per cent of in­come-earn­ing fam­i­lies with chil­dren, 406,000 of a to­tal 660,000 are pay­ing more fed­eral in­come tax — about $269 more a year, on av­er­age — thanks to Trudeau’s changes to the tax code

Trevor Tombe, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at the Univer­sity of Calgary, con­firms the Fraser In­sti­tute study is cor­rect, but says lower-in­come fam­i­lies with chil­dren younger than 18 are bet­ter off, ow­ing to changes made to the Canada Child Ben­e­fit.

The in­come tax changes how­ever,

con­tinue to get worse for mid­dle­class fam­i­lies with chil­dren. The re­port shows 78 per cent of fam­i­lies that earn be­tween $66,449 and $90,743 are pay­ing higher taxes thanks to the tax changes, and in the next tax bracket — fam­i­lies earn­ing $90,744 to $119,736 — 84 per cent are pay­ing more taxes to Ot­tawa.

“What’s even more sur­pris­ing,” said Lam­mam, “is fam­i­lies in the bot­tom 20 per cent are slightly more likely to be pay­ing higher in­come taxes than fam­i­lies in the top 20 per cent.”

As the re­port points out, “rel­a­tive to other in­come groups, a smaller per­cent­age of up­per-in­come-earn­ing fam­i­lies (52 per cent) are pay­ing higher per­sonal in­come taxes due to the tax changes im­ple­mented by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.”

Mean­while, af­ter calling in­cor­po­rated small Cana­dian busi­ness own­ers such as doc­tors and farm­ers “tax cheats,” ear­lier rev­e­la­tions that Morneau did not put his con­sid­er­able as­sets in a blind trust, con­tinue to haunt the Trudeau gov­ern­ment. Ex­ploit­ing legal tax loop­holes has helped keep the uber rich uber rich, while the rest of us tax pay­ing suck­ers get gouged.

For Trudeau, his motto seems to be, “say one sunny thing and do the ex­act op­po­site.” It’s been work­ing so far for Trudeau, whose pop­u­lar­ity seems to re­main sta­ble re­gard­less of pol­icy mis­takes, scan­dals and bro­ken prom­ises.

Worse yet, how­ever, ac­cord­ing to his own gov­ern­ment’s pro­jec­tions, Trudeau is ex­pected to in­crease Canada’s per-per­son fed­eral debt by five per cent from 2015 to 2019, the largest in­crease of any prime min­is­ter since Con­fed­er­a­tion whose time in of­fice did not in­clude a world war or eco­nomic re­ces­sion.

Add the job- and con­fi­dence-killing mea­sures by mov­ing the reg­u­la­tory goal­posts Tran­sCanada needed to meet to seek ap­proval for the En­ergy East pipe­line, vir­tu­ally ev­ery prom­ise Trudeau made in his “sunny ways” vic­tory speech have been dashed.

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