Changes to the Federal Budget

 The federal government recently delivered its budget for 2017 and amongst the pages outlining new programs and spending priorities, there are a number of tax changes for the average day consumer, such as:

  • The non-refundable public transit tax credit, which enabled public transit users to apply 15% of their eligible expenses on monthly passes and other fares toward reducing the amount of tax they owed, will be phased out as of July 1. Ending this tax break is expected to save Ottawa more than $200 million a year.
  • Uber and other ride-hailing services will for the first time be charged GST and HST on fares, in the same way they are charged on traditional taxi services. This change as the government explained was designed to level the playing field for both taxis and Uber, and the expected tax windfall is just $3 million in additional revenue.
  • The budget ends the long-running Canada Savings Bonds program this year. Created in 1946 to replace a war-bonds program, savings bond sales have fallen sharply in recent years as the interest rate earned fell behind the savings rates offered at banks and other private institutions. The government says it will honour the $5 billion of Canada Savings Bonds that are currently outstanding, but won’t sell any more.
  • Finally, the government increased the so-called “sin” taxes on alcohol and tobacco. The price of a litre of wine will increase by 1 cent, and just over 2 cents for a litre of spirits. A 24-pack of beer is going up by five cents, and 200 cigarettes will cost another 53 cents.