Federal study details workers hardest hit by tax and benefit system for extra income



Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Posted on Sunday, October 25, 2020 6:43 a.m. EDT

Last updated Sunday, October 25, 2020 6:44 a.m. EDT

OTTAWA – Recently released documents show finance ministry officials have calculated that workers at the bottom of the income scale are hit hardest by extra earnings than anyone, including those at the top.

Besides paying more taxes, earning more money can mean losing other benefits aimed at reducing poverty.

Understanding who loses the most and wins the most and what federal programs are involved “can guide the development of approaches to lighten the burden and encourage extra work,” officials wrote in the documents.

Workers with modest incomes, between about $ 25,000 and $ 34,000, lost $ 413 for every $ 1,000 in additional earnings, the highest payback of any income level.

Right behind them were the richest 10 percent of working people, with incomes over $ 114,570, who gave up $ 402 for every $ 1,000 in additional earnings.

Paying more taxes was the culprit for those doing the most, while those near the bottom faced a double whammy in taxes and a cut in income-tested benefits, like the Canada child benefit.

Overall, the country’s 19 million workers would have lost an average of $ 341 for every $ 1,000 increase in their income based on 2017 data, but the burden was greater for workers with children.

Officials noted that not doing much better, or doing even worse, after an increase in income could discourage employed people from taking on extra work and could prevent others. of the labor market.

The latter situation was one of the documents described as particularly pronounced for “secondary employees”. These are people who earn less money than their partners – usually women.

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the reports and related briefing note under the Access to Information Act.

Reports presented in early November, days after the federal election that saw the Liberals return to power with a minority in the House of Commons, came as the public service struggled to solve a series of issues facing one hand – of aging work.

Experts who reviewed the document have suggested the findings could help guide federal efforts now as the Liberals try to slap taxes and benefits associated with the pandemic.

Elliot Hughes, who was tax policy adviser to former Finance Minister Bill Morneau, said a thorough review of the tax system appears to be a must to see how the country can make sure those in need of help get it, while not creating disincentives to work.

It’s politically problematic and it would probably take two years, Hughes said, but “I don’t know how you are avoiding one now.”

“COVID, and all the benefits that have been added, and all the challenges that COVID has exposed or accelerated make a review of taxes and support and benefit programs … even more important than ever,” said Hughes, now at Strategies of synthesis.

Recovering benefits faster as incomes rise may not help promote labor market participation, said Garima Talwar Kapoor, director of policy and research at Maytree, an anti-poverty think tank.

Talwar Kapoor also said that any conversation about taxes and benefits should take into account other issues that affect work decisions, such as the cost of childcare, access to dental benefits through the health care plan. an employer or whether the job itself is attractive.

“There are a number of factors that are important when people decide whether they are going to work or not, and whether the design of government fits with public policy,” she said.

“I’m concerned that without really thinking about good jobs, we often don’t reduce the benefits provided without thinking about the impact that has on people in the longer term.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 25, 2020.


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