Yukon’s own child tax credit disappeared as a result of the federal government’s overhaul of the Universal Child Care Benefit, and the Yukon government won’t speak about it.
The Yukon Income Tax Act is set up to mirror a number of tax credits enacted by the federal government. When Ottawa removed it’s old child tax credit to make way for the Universal Child Care Benefit, it automatically removed the Yukon’s own credit.
As pointed out by Yukon News columnist Kyle Carruthers, that means in practice that of the $720 the federal government trumpeted parents would get this year, Yukoners are only up $14.23.
That’s the math after you consider the loss of the original federal child tax credit, its Yukon equivalent and the taxes parents have to pay on the new benefit. The Yukon Finance Department confirmed those numbers.
Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski, who is also the finance minister, refused multiple interview requests.
An interview with the finance minister wasn’t necessary, his cabinet officials told the Yukon News, because finance department officials would answer all our questions.
They did not.
Specifically, when asked about why the government didn’t let Yukoners know about the disappearance of Yukon’s tax credit, and how it would impact their $720 cheques, finance department officials ignored the question and kept boasting about measures the government put in place.
Asked again, they said the Yukon government didn’t comment on every single federal initiative.
Director of taxation, Gerald Gagnon, said the Yukon government both reduced the tax burden on Yukoners and increased child tax benefits – a different program than the one that disappeared.
The Yukon child tax benefit gives qualified Yukoners monthly payments.
Child tax benefit programs are better suited for the territory than child tax credit, Gagnon said.
“When you think about people who need money, they need it right now, not at the end of the year,” Gagnon said.
In April territorial child tax benefits went up from $698 to $820 annually per child, which will result in the Yukon doling out an extra half a million dollars this year, he said. The threshold of eligible income was also moved from $30,000 to $35,000.
When amending the Yukon Income Tax, the government also reduced personal income tax, resulting in $5.3 million less Yukoners will have to pay this year.
Department official refused to provide a breakdown of how each tax bracket is affected by that change, saying it could allow people to deduce personal tax information.
“Everybody is better off because of our initiatives,” Gagnon said.
Last October the federal government increased the Universal Child Care Benefit coverage. It used to be for families with children under six, who received a $100 monthly payment.
Now for every child under six, a family will receive a $160 monthly-payment, and for every child between six and 17, a $60 payment.
On June 26 Minister of Employment Pierre Poilievre flew to Whitehorse to encourage people to sign up for the newly expanded program.
During a press conference that day Poilievre talked about 800 families in the territory who were eligible but hadn’t signed up yet.
Last March, Canada’s parliamentary budget officer, Jean-Denis Frechette, criticized the government’s measure, noting the program expansion would benefit families with little to no child care costs.
“Many of the families that benefit from federal child-care initiatives do not incur child-care expenses,” Frechette told the Toronto Star.
He also noted the cost of the program would go from $3.3 billion in 2013-2014 to $7.9 billion in 2017-2018.
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