The 2017 – 2018 Ontario Budget gives Seniors, Caregivers and Low Income Families a bit of leeway.

May 1, 2017

Ontario’s 2017 – 2018 budget was tabled on April 27, 2017 without any changes to provincial tax rates. There were, however, a number of other changes announced that could be of interest to you or someone you know.

Ontario Seniors get a Break on Transit

A new refundable tax credit for senior citizens goes into effect on July 1, 2017. As of that date, seniors will be able to claim 15% on expenses for public transit. The federal government offers a 15% refundable tax credit on public transit as well, but that credit is being eliminated on the same day (and while the federal credit applies to all transit riders, the new provincial credit applies only to seniors.) The credit is refundable, so it will also be payable to seniors whose incomes are too low to utilize non-refundable tax credits.

Care for Ontario’s Caregivers

Caregivers in the province are going to get a little extra love in the 2017 tax season. Ontario is following the lead of the federal government by introducing a new Ontario Caregiver Tax Credit, which mirrors the new federal Caregiver Credit announced earlier this year. That said, the existing provincial caregiver amount, and amount for infirm dependants 18 or over, is being eliminated. Furthermore, the maximum amount ($4,794) will be phased out once the dependant’s income exceeds $16,401. The provincial non-refundable tax credit rate is 5.05%, which means the maximum tax savings for caregivers will be $242.

Tax changes for Income Earned Elsewhere

Taxpayers who are subject to tax in multiple jurisdictions need to be aware of some technical changes being made to surtax and tax reduction calculations. These changes will largely apply to taxpayers who have business income from permanent business establishments located in more than one province. The changes essentially prorate the surtax and tax reduction based on the percentage of income generated in Ontario.

Residential Tax for Non-residents

The government announced a new 15% Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) on non-Canadian citizens, non-permanent residents and non-Canadian corporations buying residential properties in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area. The tax is assessed at the time of sale, and therefore does not affect tax returns. Details of the NRST and other related measures in the Ontario Fair Housing Plan can be found on the Ontario Government web site. Simply click this link to find them:

Easing up on Electricity Bills

The Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP), which has been in effect since January 2016, reduces electricity bills for low-income households in the form of a rebate. Eligibility for the program is based on income reported on your tax return and credit is applied directly to your electricity bill. The province reportedly is working with the Ontario Energy Board to increase the monthly rebate amount by 50%. A rebate on the provincial portion of HST on electricity bills also became effective January 1, 2017.

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