Budget offers broad sweep of measures to help Canadians but not a much-needed tax review

While today’s federal budget offers a broad range of initiatives for a stronger country, key opportunities to accomplish more were missed, according to Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

OTTAWA, March 19, 2019 – While today’s federal budget offers a broad range of initiatives for a stronger country, key opportunities to accomplish more were missed, according to Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

The federal government’s fiscal blueprint is aimed at improving housing affordability, supporting seniors, helping Canadians strengthen their job skills, broadband investments for rural Canada and addressing the costs associated with prescription drugs.

CPA Canada also believes tax policy is an essential lever to achieve key economic and social objectives in this country. That is why the organization is disappointed the government did not announce a comprehensive review of Canada’s tax system – something that has not occurred since the 1960s.

“This was a squandered opportunity,” says Joy Thomas, president and CEO, CPA Canada. “There is a groundswell of support for a full-scale tax review in Canada, and a much-needed assessment would pave the way for an improved system that best positions the country for economic and social growth. We hope the platforms of the government and other political parties signal their respective support for a full-scale tax review in the upcoming federal election campaign.”

Tax items of note in the federal budget include:

  • Introducing the Canada Training Credit – a refundable personal tax credit of $250 per year that can be accumulated to provide financial support to help cover up to half of eligible tuition and fees associated with training
  • Changes to the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP), such as increasing the HBP withdrawal limit to $35,000 from $25,000
  • Limiting the use of the current employee stock option tax regime to start-ups and growth companies and for other companies, to the first $200,000 of underlying share value annually for options granted to an employee
  • Unreduced access to the enhanced refundable scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) credit for small and medium sized businesses with taxable capital of up to $10 million, regardless of their taxable income

In addition, the budget contains further investments to combat tax evasion and includes measures aimed at cracking down on money laundering. CPA Canada welcomes efforts to fight both tax evasion and money laundering.  

The government stresses that it is making investments to grow the economy for the long term while it brings the books back toward balance, but the budget does not include a date for a return to balanced budgets.

“Canada needs a plan for fiscal stability, one that establishes a target date for a return to balanced budgets over the medium term,” says Thomas. “The government must demonstrate that it has a plan to eventually rein in spending and address persistent deficits, especially with the economic uncertainty facing the global economy today. This would greatly assist in creating business confidence and minimizing the burden on future generations.”

Additional budget information is available at cpacanada.ca/budget2019.