2019 Federal Budget Commentary

On March 19, 2019,  the Federal Government presented its fourth budget:  Investing in the Middle Class.

As the full budget document is a 464 page read, you might prefer Stern Cohen’s budget commentary available on this link.

In addition, for your convenience, here is an even shorter executive summary.

Economic Outlook

The Federal Government’s 2019 Budget touts Canada’s strong economic growth since 2015, including the lowest unemployment rate in over 40 years. At 3 per cent growth, Canada had the strongest economic growth of all G7 countries in 2017, and was second only to the U.S. in 2018.  Finally, Canada was the only G7 country to witness a material improvement in foreign direct investment over the first three quarters of 2018.

Federal Spending, Deficit and Debt

There are no significant cuts intended to reduce the deficit. In brief, the 2019 Budget includes $22.8 billion in new spending over the next five years. The government expects revenues to steadily increase by nearly $60 billion in 2023 and projects program spending to increase by $40 billion that year. Debt payments are projected to increase by $7 billion.

Based on these growth and spending assumptions, the government expects the federal deficit to increase to nearly $20 billion in 2019–2020 and 2020–21 and then decline to $9.8 billion at the end of the next five years.

Highlights of Changes

The budget does not contain significant changes to personal and business tax rates, nor does it make substantive efforts to improve the efficiency of the Income Tax Act.

Specific measures include:

  • A new, non-taxable Canada Training Credit for eligible workers aged 25 to 64
  • A new Employment Insurance Training Support Benefit
  • Increasing the RRSP withdrawal limit under the First-Time Home Buyers’ Plan
  • Preferred capital gains tax treatment for owners of multi-unit residential properties
  • Increased access to the enhanced 35 per cent scientific research and experimental development tax credit
  • Limits on the employee stock option deduction for large, long-established, mature companies
  • Broadening the tax rules for certain registered plans to allow new types of annuities
  • Making zero-emission vehicles eligible for a 100 per cent capital cost allowance rate in the year they are put in use
  • Reallocating the CRA’s resources to improve digital services, provide more timely resolution to taxpayers’ objections, and adding CRA auditors to help new unincorporated businesses understand their tax obligations and extending the program to incorporated businesses