Conservative policy of “income splitting” good for families

Contrary to what many in the mainstream media were telling Canadians yesterday, Prime Minister Harper’s income splitting up to $50,000 announcement yesterday, is not a social conservative policy per se. Actually, it is quite progressive (H/T Jack’s Newswatch) because it would allow many young families (1.8 million to be exact) who have dependant children under the age of 18 — to keep more of their income, particularly when one member of the couple earns less or nothing at all.  

Why? Well, in my opinion, it’s obvious. Just as with retirement income splitting, it helps the person who earns less — and lets face it, that is usually women. Because, whether we like it or not, even in 2011, far more women than men who are married with children, work part-time or, even if they do work full-time, often don’t have access to a public or private pension plan.

So, income splitting, whether for those of us who are retired, are stay-at home-parents or work for less money than their partner, is a VERY good thing. How good? Well, this year my husband and I (both retired) are expecting a refund of about $3,000 — which is real money!!!

Why do we qualify for income splitting when, except for a few years when my children were pre-schoolers, I taught school all my adult life? Well, I do have a small teachers’ pension for the years I taught in the school system. But, that was not the case when I taught university. Because, as happened to many academics during the 1980s and 90s, there were few tenure stream positions. So, year after year after year, I was only too happy to accept full or part-time “sessional” contracts — some running from September to May, others July and August. The point being of course, sessional positions were not considered permanent and had no access to benefits or the pension plan. 

Now, for all those single wage earners out there, remember that your living costs are not nearly as high as single or double wage earners with children. However, if someone is a single parent, they do get significant tax benefits, the primary one being the equivalent to the marriage exemption for the first child. And, the partner who pays child support can write off the full amount of that support.

However, those I do have empathy for are couples with children whose incomes are almost equal, leaving nothing to split. Thankfully, in most of those situations, they usually pay less tax anyway. For example, if one parent works and makes $70,000 a year and his or her spouse stays home full-time, they pay far more tax than two parents both working and earning $35,000. each.  

So, yes, a policy of splitting family income can benefit many young families — a policy that is, in my opinion, about choice — feminism by another name. I mean, wasn’t working in the home to bring up ones children supposed to be a choice couples made? Or, have we gone to the other extreme now where woman are expected to work full-time so that day care workers can bring up their children? I certainly hope not or the equality rights I fought so hard for back in the 1960s will be lost.   

Oh, and the fiction that the Conservatives shouldn’t be announcing a policy that wouldn’t come into place until 2015 because that would be beyond their mandate (should they win a much stronger minority or majority government on May 2nd, 2011). Well, four years would take them to May 2, 2015, two to three months AFTER the 2015 budget could put this into effect. Meaning it would be implemented before the next election to become effective with the 2015 taxation year. Or, it’s just as feasible that if the deficit is paid down a year earlier than expected, the policy could be put in place for the 2014 taxation year.

The crux of the matter is, then, whatever way you look at it, income splitting for families is a very positive election platform plank. Please remember that when you vote on May 2nd.

Endnotes: (1) Here also is a Google search page on the topic of income splitting and the various opinions about the Conservative election campaign announcement.(2) While my comment feature is currently turned off, I do welcome messages via my Contact Form. (3) Income splitting for seniors is # 31 on the Harper Government Accomplishment list.