Event: Tax relief for families and businesses / Red tape reduction
Venue: Prince George Chamber of Commerce, Prince George, BC
Date: April 8, 2015
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Good morning, thank you for that kind introduction and thank you for joining us today.
Small businesses represent about half of the jobs in the private sector and a third of Canada's gross domestic product. They are vital to Canada's long-term economic prosperity, and our Government has made a commitment to support them.
When you own a small business, tax season can be a little stressful, even overwhelming at times. On top of everything you do on a daily basis to keep your business up and running, you also have to set aside precious time to prepare and file your tax return. We want to make sure you know about all of the tax credits and deductions that are available, so that you can take advantage of them if you qualify.
I want to begin by highlighting what's new this tax season, and specifically what you, as small business owners and entrepreneurs, need to know when you file your income tax returns this year.
A little later this morning, in a round table discussion with representatives of the business community here in Prince George, I will solicit your feedback on the measures we have introduced and your thoughts on how we can continue to make it easier for you to meet your tax obligations.
At the core of our Economic Action Plan is a commitment to keep taxes low for Canadians.
We remain focused on helping hard-working Canadians prosper.
Every Canadian family with children will benefit from our new tax relief and benefit package, introduced by Prime Minister Harper in October.
On average, $1,140 will return to the pockets of families with children through this initiative. Low and middle-income families will receive two-thirds of the overall benefits provided by the package. Let me take a minute to explain.
The Family Tax Cut provides tax relief of up to $2,000 for couples with children under the age of 18, starting with the 2014 tax year.
We are increasing the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) from $100 to $160 per month for children under the age of 6 … and providing $60 a month for each child between the ages of 6 and 17.
Our Government has doubled the amount of eligible expenses you can claim for the Children's Fitness Tax Credit, from $500 to $1000 per child per year.
We are also increasing the Child Care Expenses Deduction dollar limits by $1,000, starting in the 2015 tax year.
In addition to supporting Canadian families, we continue to introduce tax relief measures to support Canadian businesses. We are keenly aware of the important role you play in sustaining our economic momentum.
I want to highlight one new tax savings measure in particular - the Small Business Job Credit.
The Small Business Job Credit will help small businesses by effectively lowering their Employment Insurance [EI] premiums from the current legislated rate of $1.88 to $1.60 per $100 of insurable earnings in 2015 and 2016. Any business that pays employer EI premiums of $15,000 or less in each of those years will be eligible for the credit.
What this means is that almost 90% of all EI premium-paying businesses in Canada will receive the credit, reducing their EI payroll taxes by nearly 15%. It will save small businesses more than half a billion dollars over two years.
We are making sure that there will be no increased paperwork associated with this new tax credit.
Businesses do not have to apply for it - the Canada Revenue Agency will automatically determine eligibility for 2015 and 2016 separately, based on the employer EI premiums paid for each of those years.
Our Government is always looking for ways to make it easier for small businesses to comply with their tax obligations.
Last fall, we asked business owners and representatives to give us their feedback directly - in consultations we held in 20 cities across Canada and online.
One concern that came through loud and clear was that the Canada Revenue Agency needed to continue to improve its services so that Canadian businesses could more quickly and easily fulfill their tax obligations.
Our Government has been active in seeking results.
I have put together a Top 10 list of the ways our Government is reducing red tape at the CRA for businesses.
- We have simplified payroll remittances. Over 800,000 remittances for over 50,000 small and medium-sized businesses were effectively eliminated after remittance thresholds for employer source deductions were revised.
- The mobile Business Tax Reminders app allows businesses to create custom reminders and alerts for dates related to instalment payments, returns, and remittances.
- Businesses can now receive certain correspondence from the CRA and submit documents online through My Business Account
- Businesses have more freedom to manage their affairs on a self-serve basis: such as updating banking and direct deposit information through My Business Account
- Advanced learning tools for auditors were developed, and the CRA created a dedicated team to address the needs of businesses.
- My Business Account Enquiries Service lets businesses ask tax questions related to their account online and receive information they can rely on, in writing.
- Business enquiries telephone service agents are now required to provide an Agent ID, ensuring a consistent and user-friendly experience for callers and making it easier to give feedback on CRA services.
- The Business Number allows businesses to work with six provinces and a number of programs with the CRA, Public Works and Government Services, Industry Canada, and Canada Border Services Agency.
- Liaison Officer Initiative provides in-person support to businesses at key points in their business cycle.
- And I have championed a plain language initiative within CRA to ensure taxpayers get clear, concise information that they can understand and act upon independently.
In January, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business recognized the CRA's efforts in cutting red tape by awarding me with their Golden Scissors Award for showing leadership in freeing entrepreneurs from the paperwork burden.
In a country like ours, where 98% of businesses have fewer than 100 employees, the effect of red tape on the economy is significant.
Our Government will continue to do everything we can to foster an environment for small businesses to grow and prosper.
I want to express my appreciation and thanks to everyone who will be taking part in today's discussion. I am very much looking forward to hearing your feedback on the progress we have made and how we can do even better.