10/21/2015 02:33 EDT | Updated 10/21/2016 05:12 EDT

Liberal Pocketbook Promises May Take More Time To Implement Than Voters Like

What the federal Liberal Party's financial promises to voters will really mean won't be known until prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau's new finance minister presents a first budget.

What the federal Liberal Party's financial promises to voters will really mean won't be known until prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau's new finance minister presents a first budget.

Still, in the aftermath of Trudeau's Oct. 19 election triumph, here's what the experts see coming:

Middle-class tax cut

The Liberals' much talked-about middle-class tax cut would apply to people with taxable income of $44,700 to $90,000, personal finance expert Preet Banerjee told Matt Galloway on CBC Radio's Metro Morning in Toronto Wednesday.

The income tax rate would be cut to 20.5 per cent from 22 per cent, producing a maximum saving of about $670, Banerjee said.

To tax the rich and help pay for the cut, there would be a new tax rate of 33 per cent on income over $200,000.

"It's not until you earn about $216,000 that you pay more …," Banerjee said.

Tax-free savings account

On the tax-free savings account (TFSA), Trudeau promised to return the maximum annual contribution to $5,500 from the Conservative government's $10,000. Will that affect people who have already tucked away the higher amount in 2015?

Ted Rechtshaffen of TriDelta Financial Partners told CBC interviewer Bruce Sellery Tuesday that his guess is the government will wait until the 2016 tax year to restore the lower limit. That would avoid any confusion over 2015 tax returns.

And Banerjee added that because the maximum would again be indexed (that is, increase with inflation), there wouldn't really be much difference over the long term.

The only losers would be wealthier Canadians in the short term who had the money to contribute now.

Income splitting

The Liberals also said they would cancel income splitting — known as "the family tax cut" in Conservative parlance — at a saving of  $2 billion to the treasury.

"To quality for the family tax cut, you had to be a family with kids under 18, and it had nothing to do with income-splitting for seniors — that was separate," Banerjee said.

In a two-parent family, income splitting allowed the higher-income spouse or common-law partner effectively to transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income to their lower-income — that is, lower-taxed — partner.

"So that is going away, and the universal child-care benefit increases, the Canada child tax benefit, etc., that's all being simplified into one bigger payment for families," Banerjee said.

Those enhanced benefits for children don't disappear until the family income rises to more than $150,000 a year, he said.


The Liberals promised to work with provinces and others to "enhance the Canada Pension Plan." They would also restore the eligibility age for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement to 65 from 67, which they said would give an  average of $13,000 to the lowest income Canadians each year.

Rechtshaffen cautioned that promises involving the Canada Pension Plan often take years to become reality. Even the Conservatives took several years to institute the TFSA, he said.

More importantly, the increase to age 67 wasn't going to kick in until 2023 anyway, so "it's a very easy promise to make." In fact, a later government could even change it back before then, he said.

"The CPP is a much more complicated one, he said. "It impacts employers, it impacts cash flow for individuals. So I think it will take a little while for that one … to be implemented."

As for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's promise of a separate provincial pension plan, Rechtshaffen hoped it might be negotiated away so that the single federal plan remains outside of Quebec, since both Trudeau and Wynne are Liberals and have publicly supported one another.

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