2012 Federal Budget Review

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty yesterday presented the federal government’s 2012 Budget. Leaving aside the government’s re-presentation of its pre-election 2011 Budget, it was the first Budget presented by a majority government in Canada since 2004, and the first by a Conservative majority government in almost twenty years. Presented in a 498-page document entitled “Economic Action Plan 2012: Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity,” the Budget will likely be considered to be favorable to businesses, as it includes provisions to increase funding for research and development, improve access to risk capital and extend the hiring tax credit for small businesses. It also focuses on reducing deficits and moving towards a balanced budget through spending restraint rather than increased taxation. The Budget proposes no new personal or corporate tax rate changes, nor are there any proposed changes to previously promised tax rate reductions. It does, however, contain a wide array of tax and tariff changes, most of them designed to increase revenue by eliminating perceived abuses. Overall, Budget-related headlines are likely to focus on the proposed Old Age Security eligibility changes (raising the age limit from 65 to 67 starting in 2023), downsizing of t­he federal civil service, CBC budget cuts, and a proposal to increase the allowable duty-free dollar-value of goods purchased while outside of Canada from $50 to $200 for a stay of 24-48 hours and from $400 to $800 for a stay of more than 48 hours. Some prominence will also likely be given, however, to a proposal to save $11 million per year by doing away with the penny. Calling the penny a ”currency without currency,” the Finance Minister noted that the present cost of producing a penny is approximately 1.6 cents. Of course, I have to ask – a penny for your thoughts…..?

Don Scott, FCA Director of Tax Services Welch LLP

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