Harper tax cut too slow, rivals say

Conservative leader Stephen Harper used his B.C. campaign swing Monday to offer a new income-splitting plan for families, but his rivals were quick to note that the proposed implementation is years away.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes a family tax break announcement with the Wellburn family of Saanich Monday.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper used his B.C. campaign swing Monday to offer a new income-splitting plan for families, but his rivals were quick to note that the proposed implementation is years away.

The program would allow families to share up to $50,000 of family income for tax purposes, which Harper says would save 1.8 million families an average of $1,300 in income taxes. But it would not be implemented until a re-elected Conservative government balances the federal budget.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s campaign was quick to point out that the family tax cut likely wouldn’t take effect until 2015. The Liberals have their own tax credit plan that would immediately provide $1,350 for families caring for an elderly or seriously ill relative at home.

Ignatieff is also promising a new six-month Employment Insurance benefit for working people to take care of an elderly or ill relative at home.

At a weekend stop in Surrey, NDP leader Jack Layton reminded supporters that while Harper promotes tax relief for families, his government worked with the B.C. Liberals to impose the harmonized sales tax. That tax doesn’t change federal sales tax revenues, but increases the provincial take by extending the provincial sales tax to a variety of services.

With campaigns just underway for a May 2 federal election, parties have not yet released detailed platforms. The NDP platform also includes a promise to extend EI to family caregivers, as well as increases to pensions and assistance for child care and post-secondary education.

Harper’s tax plan would most benefit households where one parent earns the majority of the income and is taxed at a higher rate. It would apply to families with children under 18 still living with their parents.


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