50+ tax relief measures since Canada’s Harper Conservatives came to power

Middle Class signThe Conservative Government, with Stephen Harper at the helm,  needs another majority mandate on October 19, 2015 because they are the only federal political party that doesn’t think they know better how to spend our hard-earned money, particularly those of us in the “Middle Class.”

For example, a family of four is now paying approximately $3,400 less in taxes than before the Conservatives were elected at the end of January 2006.

There is an old saying, something to the effect, that the proof is in the pudding, or in the eating of the pudding. Below — in both topic and chronological order — are some 50+ tax relief highlights of the pudding we are now eating. (Please note the various federal budgets are listed in the “Endnotes”).

The Conservative Tax Relief Record:

  1. The GST: The GST rate was reduced from 7% to 6%, effective July 1, 2006 and from 6% to 5% effective January 1, 2008.  In 2015, the government also maintained the GST quarterly credit for low and middle-income Canadians (P.230 in 2015).
  2. Personal Income Taxes: The lowest personal income tax (PIT) rate was reduced to 15.5% from 16%, effective July 1, 2006 and to 15% in later years.
  3. Personal Exemptions: The basic personal exemption amount has increased each year — from $8,148 to $8,648 for 2005, from $8,428 to $8,839 for 2006, from $8,713 to $8,929 in 2007, from $9,278 to $9,299 in 2008, and from $10,110 to $10,131 — up to $11,327 in 2015.
  4. Canada Employment Credit: The Canada Employment Credit was introduced on July 1, 2006 and increased to $1,000 in 2007.
  5. Cost of Tools: Small business tradesmen were able to deduct the cost of tools up to $500 for costs in excess of $1,000.
  6. Textbook Credit: A Textbook Tax Credit was introduced up to $65 per month.
  7. Scholarship Exemption: Elementary, secondary and post-secondary student scholarship and bursary income were exempted from tax.
  8. Child Fitness Credit: The Children’s Fitness Tax Credit was introduced in 2007 for up to $500 in eligible fees per child, doubled in 2014 and made refundable in 2015.
  9. Pension Income Credit: The Pension Income Credit was doubled to $2,000 from $1,000.
  10. Corporate Dividends: Tax on large corporation dividends was reduced (by increasing gross-up to 45% from 25% and dividend tax credit to 19% from 13.3%)
  11. Medical Expenses: Increased the maximum Refundable Medical Expenses Supplement from $767 to $1,000 and expanded the list of eligible expenses under the Medical Expense Tax Credit to include blood coagulation monitoring devices and their disposable peripherals.
  12. Public Transit Credit: Introduced the Public Transit Tax Credit, effective July 1, 2006.
  13. Capital Gains Exemption: Eliminated capital gains tax on donations of publicly listed securities and ecogifts to public charities.
  14. Capital Gains Increase: Increased the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption to $800,000 and indexed the new limit to inflation.
  15. Fishing Gains Exemption: Extended the $500,000 lifetime capital gains exemption and intergenerational rollover to fishing property.
  16. Permanent Residence Fee: Reduced the Right of Permanent Residence Fee from $975 to $490.
  17. Mineral Exploration Credit: Extended the 15% mineral exploration tax credit to March 31, 2007.
  18. Working Income Tax Benefit: Introduced the Working Income Tax Benefit (P.230 in 2015 ).
  19. Donations on Private Corporations: Eliminated the capital gains tax on donations of publicly listed securities to private foundations.
  20. Lifetime Increase for RESPs: Increased the lifetime contribution limit to $50,000 for Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs).
  21. Eliminated RESP limit: Eliminated the RESP annual contribution limit.
  22. Expanded RESP Access: Expanded access to RESP savings for part-time studies.
  23. RESP Asset Sharing: Provided subscribers of separate individual RESPs with the same flexibility to allocate assets among siblings as exists for subscribers of family plans.
  24. Child Tax Credit: Introduced the Child Tax Credit (initial amount of $2,000) which does not affect UCCB.
  25. Child Tax Credit Change: Eliminated the one-per-household rule for the Child Tax Credit.
  26. Spousal/Dependant Increase: Increased the spousal and eligible dependant amounts from $7,581 to $8,929.
  27. Capital Gains Exemption: Increased the lifetime capital gains exemption from $500,000 to $750,000.
  28. Truck Drivers Meal Deduction: Gradually increased the deduction for meal expenses of truck drivers from 50% of the allowable amount in 2006 to 80% in 2011.
  29. RDSP/Disability Savings Plan: Introduced the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), effective 2008.
  30. RDSP Flexibility: Increased flexibility to access RDSPs for beneficiaries with shortened life expectancies.
  31. RDSP Guardianship: Allowed parents, spouses, and common-law partners to open RDSPs for an adult individual who might not be able to enter into a contract.
  32. Allowed RESP to RDSP: Allowed investment income earned in a RESP to be rolled over on a tax-free basis to an RDSP.
  33. RDSP Limits Increased: Increased the maximum withdrawal limits that apply to certain RDSPs.
  34. Age Limit Increased: Increased the age limit for maturing Registered Pension Plans (RPPs) and Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) to 71 years of age from 69.
  35. RRSP Post-death Relief: Introduced tax relief for RRSP post-death losses.
  36. Northern Resident Deduction: Broadened the northern residents deduction to include the District Municipality of Mackenzie (British Columbia).
  37. Traveller’s Exemption: First, increased the 48-hour travellers’ exemption from $200 to $400 and then from $400 to $800. Also increased the 24-hour travellers’ exemption from $50 to $200.
  38. Mineral Exploration Tax Credit: Extended the 15% mineral exploration tax credit to March 31, 2015.
  39. Tax Free Savings Account: Introduced the Tax-Free Savings Account, effective 2009 up to $5,500 which was increased to $10,000 in 2015 budget (P.233 in 2015)
  40. GST/HST Disability Exemption: Exempted from GST/HST specially designed training to assist individuals in coping with effects of a disability or disorder and expanded the list to include medical and assistive devices (e.g., service dogs).
  41. Tax Bracket Increases: Increased upper limit of the first Income Tax bracket from $38,832 to $40,726 in 2008 and $77,665 to $81,452 in 2009.
  42. Age Credit Increase: Increased the Age Credit amount by $1,000, effective 2009.
  43. Home Renovation Tax Credit: Introduced the temporary Home Renovation Tax Credit on expenditures in excess of $1,000, but not more than $10,000.
  44. First-time Buyers Tax Credit: Introduced the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit, based on an amount of $5,000.
  45. Home Buyer’s Plan: Increased the Home Buyers’ Plan withdrawal limit to $25,000 from $20,000.
  46. Universal Child Care Benefit: Increases to the UCCB in 2015 to include children up to age 18. Increased from $100 per month for children under 6 to $160 and $60 a month for children aged 6 to 17.
  47. Family Income Splitting: Introduced Family Income Splitting tax credit up to $2,000 (Link).
  48. Seniors Pension Income Splitting: Pension income can now be split between partners up to the allowable amount, approximately $50,000 per annually.
  49. Child Custody Benefits: Improved the allocation of child benefits between parents who share custody of a child.
  50. Children’s Art Tax Credit: Introduced the Children’s Arts Tax Credit for up to $500 per child in eligible fees and an additional $500 non-refundable amount for DTC-eligible children.
  51. Volunteer Firefighter Credit: Introduced a Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit, based on an amount of $3,000 for volunteer firefighters who perform at least 200 service hours.
  52. Family Caregiver Tax Credit: Introduced a Family Caregiver Tax Credit, based on an amount of $2,000 for caregivers of infirm dependants and removed the $10,000 limit that applies on the amount that caregivers can claim under the Medical Expense Tax Credit on behalf of certain dependants.
  53. Tuition Tax Credit: Included professional or trade examination fees in the definition of eligible tuition for the Tuition Tax Credit.
  54. Foreign Student Credit: Reduced the minimum duration requirement that Canadian students studying at foreign universities must meet to claim the Tuition, Education and Textbook Tax Credits or receive Educational Assistance Payments from RESPs.
  55. Foreign Rental Vehicles: Reduced taxes on foreign-based rental vehicles temporarily imported by Canadian residents, effective June 1, 2012.
  56. Adoption Tax Credit: Enhanced the Adoption Expense Tax Credit to better recognize the costs of adopting a child — up to $15,000 in 2014.
  57. Charitable Super Credit: Introduced a charitable donation “Super Credit” in 2014.

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Endnote: Just as with my various Harper Government Accomplishment Lists (see here, here and here), this list was put together by an individual (Sandy) who has no connection to the federal government or federal Conservative Party. No doubt, there are tax relief measures I have missed, particularly corporate and those for small businesses. However, in my opinion, 50+ tax relief items are enough for Canadian voters to realize what they would lose if the opposition NDP and Liberals were to gain a foothold on power in Canada with a coalition type arrangement.

Listed here are PDF files on the various annual Conservative federal budgets since the spring of 2006: Budget 2015Budget 2014Budget 2013Budget 2012Budget 2011Budget 2010Budget 2009Budget 2008Budget 2007, and Budget 2006.

22 thoughts on “50+ tax relief measures since Canada’s Harper Conservatives came to power

  1. Pingback: Crux: 50+ tax relief measures since Harper Conservatives came to power | Jack's Newswatch

  2. Good stuff. Now to hear how many of these the Trudeau/Wynne will say should be cut? I’m including Wynne because she and Trudeau are joined at the hip against the Harper Government, in fact she’s acting like the official opposition. We all need to be aware of this pairing, what it could mean for the country with Wynne is presiding over the worst disaster in our history and Trudeau depending on a crew of puppeteers headed by Gerald Butts. Having Chretien and Martin coming out from their retirement bunkers has to be getting close to the ultimate in desperation.

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  3. You have stunning energy, Sandy! Thank you for this and all that you do. I check in regularly despite not commenting.

    We are gobsmacked with what may occur in AB and are finding ourselves wondering why the public sector is taking over so many brains. The distrust of Redford started the domino but for the NDP (are you kidding, in AB??))to be leading in the polls??

    Wish us luck and again, thanks for all that you do. I miss the great blogs and I am so grateful you are still here. A very best!

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  4. We have Ontario still sinking with the Wynne Liberals, if Alberta goes with the NDP whither goes Canada? PM Harper will have to do some fancy dancing to deal with the repercussions sure to unfold with another provincial economic disaster if the polls hold true.

    Have to wonder where public sector unions think the high paying union jobs will be coming from when the engines driving the economy are shut down?

    I wish you luck Bec, I wish us all luck.

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  5. Thanks Bec. The good thing for me is that the gov’t has budget “highlights” for each year. So, I just check those out. There were a lot more tax relief measures I am sure that I missed. But, I just wanted to give people an idea of what they will lose if they vote NDP or Liberal in droves. I have my fingers crossed in AB that it will be Wildrose that benefits from all the distrust.

    It started with Redford but then the Danielle Smith businesses clinched it. Little did Smith know, her own actions would do this.

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  6. Another aside….why are we not hearing more about Jean Chretien’s visit with Putin? If the LPC thought it a great coup would they and their media not be giving it more coverage? It seems to have gone dead. No former Conservative PM would get away with such a stunt at a time when our country is aiding the people of Ukraine due to Putin’s actions.

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  7. Agree Liz. I think most of the media are pro-liberal/Liberal. For example, we rarely hear much about Tom Mulcair and the NDP, who are actually the Official Opposition. Rather, we hear mostly positive things about the guy running the third rump party. So, it’s not just the Conservatives. Mind you, the situation regarding the NDP owing money is not getting much media either. Can you imagine the media reaction if the Conservatives had paid for Satellite offices with taxpayers money?

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  8. Once you decide to screw future generations by running deficits then tax cuts come easy.

    The tax cuts show a lack of fiscal discipline if the spending does not decrease. Harper will gets votes for tax cuts but our kids will pay for the debt. I don’t like that. Our generation should pay its way.

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  9. The media are too busy following PM Harper around and accusing him of electioneering, the old photo-op screed when he’s merely dong his job as PM. We can take from this the Liberals and their media trumpets and scribes are very worried about their chances with the suit running on a name tag.

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  10. How about that, some good news, Wynne and her Liberals are tanking according to the latest polling. The bad news is they remain in power, can’t shuck them. If the poll is accurate we have to assume some of those who voted for them are now feeling the pain.

    Hope the PC’s get their ducks in a row, get behind whoever they choose as leader. At this point I’m not sure who would make the best janitor for the mess they will inherit, Elliott or Brown.

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  11. Sometimes Geo, life is not predictable. Our generation HAS paid its own way. When the global recession hit in the fall of 2008, the Conservatives were forced into deficit by the threat of a NDP/Liberal/Bloc coalition. Have you forgotten that? Plus, the fact that the Conservatives have paid down $50 billion dollars is most certainly fiscal discipline.

    It’s obvious that even if the PM walked on water, some conservatives would criticize him for something.

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  12. Please note that this blog is, for the most part, a Conservative Government supporting location on the Internet. While I have said many times, that I do not have any personal or business connection to either the federal CPC or the Ontario PCs, it is my perogative to support their policies and message.

    Therefore, if someone doesn’t agree with what I have written or the parties involved, I would simply ask them to carry on and not stop here to leave a comment. In short, I have no patience for anti-conservative rhetoric — since we get enough of that through the mainstream media. While some may complain about that position, claiming I am promoting an echo chamber, I make no apologies.

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  13. Mutterings from Camp Trudeau sound like they might have a plan, a plan to use pension plans as slush funds……shades of P Martin?

    Trudeau vows to hit on the rich, not sure he and his brain gallery have delved into it beyond the sound bite. Wonder what they define as rich? People who take care of themselves or people who provide employment for others who might be considered the middle class Trudeau seems to know so much about?

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  14. Condolences to Alberta but they couldn’t be worse than the Liberals of Ontario…or could they? Alberta NDP can thank Redford, Smith and Prentice.

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  15. What I find funny Liz is that I am getting comments (which I won’t approve) from people assuming that Mulcair is going to win federally because the Notley NDP won in Alberta. Provincial politics is always different. Besides, the Alberta NDP leader has distanced herself from Mulcair because I believe she is more in line with Gary Doer’s approach. Alberta will do just fine.

    Mulcair’s brand of progressivism is just too extreme.

    What I would like to watch is Notley taking Obama down a peg or two. Turn her back on Keystone and do the refining in Alberta. Serve him right that Texas and Louisiana lose all that potential refining.

    Oh, and I wonder if we’ll hear that her majority is illegitimate given the number of people who voted for other parties.

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  16. We can just sit back and watch. NDP proved a bad experiment for Ontario with Bob Rae but the McGuinty cum Wynne Liberals have proven to be far worse.

    Those who assume this is a win for Mulcair’s chances federally can have their dream. It’s also not a loss for the Harper Conservatives even though the media will play it to the hilt as such.

    The NDP are notorious for spouting off about the Conservative majority being illegitimate because of the number who voted for other parties, there will be silence on this one.

    Wonder if they’re considering PM Harper’s high respect shown Gary Doer , appointing him Ambassador to the US?

    Then there was PC Premier Danny Williams who had his war with PM Harper, telling people to vote ABC….it didn’t work.

    People not of NDP persuasion are going to worry how far Notley takes NDP ideology and how it will affect the engines that drive the economy of Alberta and the economy of the country. Ontario is already affecting our economy.
    That’s a big worry and one we have lots of evidence the Trudeau cabal would not be able to deal with should they gain power.

    I remember once voting NDP provincially several years ago as a protest, it felt good at the time, my husband doesn’t believe I did it to this day!

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  17. Liz — Confession time. Both my husband and I voted for the NDP in 1990! Yea, I remember how good it felt. LOL. We would never make that mistake again.

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