Would you take on this assignment: successfully introduce six federal budgets in a minority parliament throughout the most significant global financial crisis since the Great Depression? It's not for the faint of heart, and yet that is what the current Finance Minister and his department have been challenged with.
Yesterday's budget contemplates a course which involved managing an interest-bearing debt of close to $800 Billion dollars in a rising interest rate environment, expenses for senior programs such as the OAS rising from $35 Billion today to $47 Billion in 5 years as boomers become pensioners, and an economic environment where raising taxes too much will eradicate the fiscal stimulus benefits of the last several years that have kept companies afloat and recreated the deficit re-accumulation in the first place.
My top three favorite provisions, which I hope will survive no matter the outcome of what seems to be a sure fire spring election are:
1. The Family Caregiver Tax Credit, which adds a $2000 amount to either the spousal, child, eligbile dependent or caregive amounts, as well as an incremental $2000 amount to the caregiver income levels subject to clawback.
2. The tuition and education credit enhancement for students studying abroad. More of that is going on and so it's nice to to see that the 13 week qualifying study period has dropped to 3 weeks so that more people can use money in RRSPs (Lifelong Learning Plan) and RESPs (Education Assistance Payments) to fund often much higher tuition fees than in Canada.
3. The Hiring Credit. Especially for small businesses who are hiring in 2011, a $1000 credit against your increase in EI over 2010 levels, if your EI payments are under $10,000 in 2010. That really helps and what I like about it, it's simple.
What are your favorite provisions? You'll need to know to be a more informed voter.
It's Your Money. Your Life. Your opinion, your vote and your involvement in the financial future of the country is important. Make it count.