Federal Budget 2023: Personal Measures

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for High-Income Individuals

Individuals will owe AMT if the tax amount calculated under the AMT regime is greater than the tax calculated under the ordinary progressive tax rate regime. Under the current rules, the calculation of AMT allows fewer deductions, exemptions and tax credits than under the ordinary income tax rules and applies a flat 15% tax on income over a standard $40,000 exemption.
Budget 2023 proposes several changes to the AMT calculation. First, the AMT rate is proposed to increase from 15% to 20.5%.  

Second, the exemption would increase from $40,000 to the start of the fourth tax bracket (for 2024 this is approximately $173,000). Third, the AMT base would be broadened by further limiting tax preferences (i.e., exemptions, deductions and credits) as follows:

  • The capital gains inclusion rate would increase from 80% to 100%.
  • 30% of capital gains eligible for the lifetime capital gains exemption would be included.
  • Deductions of capital loss carry forwards and allowable business investment losses would apply at a 50% rate.
  • 100% of employee stock options benefits would be included.
  • 30% of capital gains on donations of publicly listed securities would be included.
  • Only 50% of many deductions would be allowed, including the following: employment expenses (other than those incurred to earn commission income); moving expenses; child care expenses; interest and carrying charges incurred to earn income from property; northern residents deduction; and non-capital and limited partnership losses of other years.
  • Only 50% of non-refundable tax credits historically allowed for AMT purposes would be allowed.

The ability to recover AMT in the seven subsequent years, to the extent that tax computed under the ordinary progressive tax rate regime exceeds AMT, is not proposed to change.

The proposed changes would come into force for the 2024 personal tax year.

Grocery Rebate

Individuals and families with modest incomes receive the Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC). The maximum 2022/2023 GSTC is $467 for a single person, and $612 plus $161 per child for a married or common-law couple. Budget 2023 proposes a one-time payment called the Grocery Rebate which will equal half of the annual maximum (twice the quarterly payment received in January, 2023) to be paid as soon as possible after the legislation is passed.

Deduction for Tradespeople’s Tool Expenses

Under the current law, a tradesperson can claim a deduction of up to $500 of eligible new tools acquired in a taxation year as a condition of employment. Budget 2023 proposes to double the maximum employment deduction for tradespeople’s tools from $500 to $1,000, effective for 2023 and subsequent taxation years. As a consequence of this change, extraordinary tool costs that are eligible to be deducted under the apprentice vehicle mechanics’ tools deduction would be those costs that exceed the combined amount of the increased deduction for tradespeople’s tool expenses ($1,000) and the Canada employment credit ($1,368 in 2023) or 5% of the taxpayer’s income earned as an apprentice mechanic, whichever is greater.

Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs)

Government grants and investment income can be withdrawn from RESPs as an education assistance payment (EAP) when a beneficiary is enrolled in an eligible post-secondary program. These withdrawals are taxable.

Under the current law, beneficiaries that are full-time students cannot withdraw more than $5,000 in EAPs in respect of the first 13 consecutive weeks of enrollment in a 12-month period. For part-time students, the limit is $2,500 per 13-week period. Budget 2023 proposes to increase these limits to $8,000 for full-time students and $4,000 for part-time students.
Budget 2023 also proposes to enable divorced or separated parents to open joint RESPs for one or more of their children or to move an existing joint RESP to another promoter. Under the current law, only spouses or common-law partners can jointly enter into an agreement with an RESP promoter to open an RESP.

These changes would come into force on Budget Day.

Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs)

Where the contractual competence of a person with a disability who is 18 years of age or older is in doubt, the RDSP plan holder must be that person’s guardian or legal representative. A temporary measure allowed the person’s parent, spouse or common-law partner (a “qualifying family member”) to open an RDSP and be the plan holder where the person does not have a legal representative.

Budget 2023 proposes to extend this measure by three years, to December 31, 2026. Budget 2023 also proposes to broaden the definition of qualifying family members to include a brother or sister of the beneficiary who is 18 years of age or older. Qualifying family members who become a plan holder before the end of 2026 could remain the plan holder after 2026.
These proposals would apply as of royal assent of the enacting legislation.

Retirement Compensation Arrangements (RCAs)

An RCA is type of employer-sponsored arrangement that generally allows an employer to provide supplemental pension benefits to employees. A refundable tax is imposed at a rate of 50% on contributions to an RCA trust, as well as on income and gains earned or realized by the trust. The tax is generally refunded as the retirement benefits are paid to the employee. The employer receives a full deduction for contributions made to the RCA.

Employers who do not pre-fund supplemental retirement benefits through contributions to an RCA trust and instead settle retirement benefit obligations as they become due, can obtain a letter of credit (or a surety bond) issued by a financial institution in order to provide security to their employees. To secure or renew the letter of credit, the employer pays an annual fee or premium charged by the issuer. These fees and premiums are subject to the 50% refundable tax.
Budget 2023 proposes that fees or premiums paid for the purposes of securing or renewing a letter of credit (or a surety bond) for an RCA that is supplemental to a registered pension plan will not be subject to the refundable tax. This change would apply to fees or premiums paid on or after Budget Day.

Budget 2023 also proposes to allow employers to request a refund of previously remitted refundable taxes in respect of such fees or premiums paid in prior years. They would be entitled to recover 50% of retirement benefits paid after 2023, to a maximum of the refundable taxes paid in the past.

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