Weekend Reading: Clarifying New Rules Edition

The new federal government has proposed changes that will affect your personal finances next year. This edition of weekend reading looks to explain these changes and how they might impact your wallet. Let’s get to it:

Minimum Down Payment Increase

This week the Liberals introduced changes for minimum down payments on a home purchase. The new rules, which take effect February 16th, 2016, increases the minimum down payment requirement from 5% to 10% on the portion of a home purchase above $500,000. Homes priced at $1M and above still require a 20% down payment. Here’s Preet Banerjee with a great video explanation and an example:

Still not clear? Here’s MoneySense’s Romana King on what the new 10% minimum down payment means for home buyers.

The rules are clearly aimed at buyers in overheated markets like Toronto and Vancouver, however, according to this article, the narrow reach of these new rules won’t do much to cool housing prices.

TFSA contribution limits

One of Justin Trudeau’s campaign pledges was to reduce the TFSA contribution limit back to an indexed-to-inflation $5,500 per year. After much confusion and speculation of how this would be rolled-out, this week, the Liberals confirmed that 2015 TFSA contribution limit would remain at $10,000 and then return to $5,500 in 2016. Again, here’s Preet Banerjee with the video explanation on the new (old) limits:

But don’t rush to take advantage of this year’s $10,000 TFSA limit. Rob Carrick explains how the $10,000 limit for this year will remain in place forever; meaning you can carry that room forward into future years, if unused.

This Maclean’s article says the Liberal changes to TFSA contributions were actually historic because, by rolling back TFSA contribution limits, the federal government broke a nearly six-decade trend of which there had been zero reductions to annual contribution room in an RRSP or TFSA.

Despite protests and petitions, the TFSA roll-back will proceed as planned. The Financial Post’s Garry Marr explains why that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Family Tax Cut eliminated

Designed by the previous Conservative government as a limited form of income splitting, the Family Tax Cut allowed families with children under 18 to save when one spouse earned considerably more than the other. This credit allowed a higher earning spouse to assign up to $50,000 from his or her tax return to the lower-income spouse’s return and claim up to $2,000 in tax savings.

The Family Tax Cut still applies for the 2015 tax year. In 2016, the government will announce its plan to end the program and replace it with a new child benefit plan.

Canada Child Benefit Plan

During the 2015 Canadian Federal Election, the Liberal Party of Canada proposed the Canada Child Benefit plan (CCB) which would replace a number of existing child care benefit programs. Here’s Preet Banerjee to explain how it was proposed to work, and what it could mean to your family:

New Federal Income Tax Bracket

Billed as a middle-class tax cut, the Liberal government will reduce the tax rate on income between $44,700 and $89,401 to 20.5%, from 22%. It will also introduce a new tax rate of 33% on income above $200,000, representing the top 1% of income earners.

Take it away, Preet:

Final thoughts

As a single-income family the obvious changes that will impact our finances are the middle-class tax cut and the child benefit plan. Both changes should positively impact our finances next year. We’re not too fussed on the reduction to the TFSA contribution limit, as we weren’t planning to start seriously taking advantage of this savings vehicle until late 2016, early 2017 (once our line of credit and car loan are paid off).

How will these new rules impact your wallet and financial plans for 2016?

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  1. DGForce on December 13, 2015 at 7:39 am

    No mention of the most important promise of all…

    Restoring the minimum OAS entitlement age back to 65. What gives?

    • Echo on December 13, 2015 at 9:16 am

      I knew I forgot one! But, that said, I can’t find any new mentions of OAS and CPP reform, other than in campaign promises made before the election. I guess we’ll have to stay tuned…

      • DGForce on December 13, 2015 at 8:51 pm

        Sorry, wasn’t blaming you for not mentioning it. What I would like to know is why the Liberals have not mentioned it since getting elected.

        • Echo on December 13, 2015 at 8:54 pm

          Fair point. I haven’t heard a word since October.

  2. Grant on December 13, 2015 at 11:05 am

    I think cutting the TFSA contribution limit is a backward step. It is the best retirement account for low and mid income earners as in retirement it is not counted as income for GIS or OAS eligibility, and even if the contribution room is not used, it remains for a later lump sum, such as an inheritance. It’s high income earners that RRSPs are best for to enable tax deferral to retirement when income is likely to be lower resulting in a lower tax bracket. Of note, this is the first time in Canadian history that a government has reduced contribution room in retirement accounts.

    • Echo on December 13, 2015 at 11:57 am

      Hi Grant, I don’t see it as that big a deal. How many low and mid income earners had maxed out their TFSA (x2 for couples) at the old contribution rate? The people who are upset seem to be the ones who are transferring existing money from non-registered accounts, or else high income earners who already max out their RRSP and are looking for additional shelter.

      Consider 2015 a bonus year and let’s move on with our lives.

    • Judy on December 13, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      Grant, I am in agreement. I am a middle income earner, nearing retirement, and I would much rather put my retirement savings in a TFSA.

      But I assume that is why the Liberals changed it back to the old formula, it was going to cost them too much money in GIS and OAS down the road, and also lost revenue on interest/gains as these are eventually taxed in a RRSP when you withdraw.

  3. Paul N on December 13, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    I can’t share your positive commentary today. How can anyone get excited about this tiny reduction in taxes? It’s like the ads for 2% interest rates until April 30th, if you open a new account in February.
    The middle class is the group of people most likely to turn their money over thru spending. You can bet that spending will be the target of multiple new tax increases. Any savings will be wiped out and then some, shortly. Lets see if people are as optimistic in a few months.
    I’m very concerned about what they want to do regarding pensions. 67 makes more sense now with longer life spans so the fund stays solvent. Why do people automatically default to “the easiest path”? Think Greece. Why enhance CPP? Better they give us more control of own own fund that we can pass on to heirs rather than the black hole CPP could become.

    • Echo on December 13, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Hi Paul, I didn’t say I was excited by the changes. The net positive will likely be less than $1,000. But our situation is fine and we’ll just keep chugging along. None of these changes impact my finances enough either way to make me want to sign a petition.

    • DGForce on December 13, 2015 at 8:56 pm

      There is no special fund for OAS. It is funded out of general revenues

  4. Jamie on December 14, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    My taxes will be going up in a few ways.
    I have a CCPC and I presume our small business tax rate will increase, though I’m not sure what to expect. If it rises from 11% to 15% then this would cost me $8K in extra taxes.

    My wife’s income is above the $200K threshold so this will cost us another ~2K in taxes (additional 4% of $50K above the $200K threshold ).

    We’ll lose our child care tax benefit.

    Like everyone, we’ll lose our plans to maximize TFSA’s.

    So we may end up working less toward the end of the year or manipulating income as much as feasible.

  5. Mike on January 4, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Preet’s video about what the new Liberal CCB means to families did a good job of breaking it down at various income levels for families with kids under 6.
    Are the claw-back rates the same on the benefit paid for kids between 6 and 17 years of age?

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