Sar webinar 1 tax delivered income summary


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Sar webinar 1 tax delivered income summary

  1. 1. Tax –Delivered Income – Gordon RyallThe Community Legal Education Ontario is helping many agencies and persons with disabilities inunderstanding possible impact and changes with ODSP, OW andtax changes to allow for increasedbenefits stemming from the Social Assistance Review Commission. This paper is intended to be used assummary highlighting indicators through government, looking at possible tax-delivered income and itsstructure, advantages, disadvantages, impacts on persons with disabilities or on low income. Two othertopics, Moving benefits outside of OW and ODSP and Merging OW and ODSP, will be coveredseparately.BackgroundThe Commission was initiated because of MCSS concerns over increasing Ontario Disability Supportprogram caseloads. The caseloads have increased 15% since 2009 and have cost $500 million.Furthermore only 11% of the ODSP recipients are in the paid workforce. Because of these trends, thereare indicators of possible changes: Narrowing the definition of disability Redefining disability as “can” and “cannot” work Mandatory participationGovernment’s focus appears to be on costcuttingand administrative efficiencies, notpoverty reduction.Job losses, tax cuts and slow economic growth equals to diminishing government revenues and agrowingdeficit. The premier promises to eliminate the deficit by 2017/18. He appointed Don Drummondto lead a Commission onthe Reform of Ontario’s Public Services. The report is due any time. Speculationincludes government spending must belimited to 1% for next 6 years to eliminate deficit, some ministriescould face 30% cuts and radical overhaul of how to deliver services.There are serious concerns that poverty reduction will be lost amidst focus on spendingcuts,administrative savings and reducing OW/ODSPcaseloads. Optimism includesMCSS Minister a key playerin government caucus, improvements to employment supports and access totraining and education andgreater political influence of NDP and Tories.The concept of “Tax-Delivered Income” stems from some discussions through the Social AssistanceReview Commission. Tax-delivered Income refers as: Using the income tax system to deliver financial benefits, instead of doing it through a program like social assistance Some or all income benefits could be moved out of social assistance or new benefits could be created that are delivered through the tax systemWhat does tax-delivered income means?Right now, people on social assistance getMost of the information came from a webinar sponsored by Community Legal Education Ontario –January 25, 2012
  2. 2. 1. OW or ODSP cheques 2. Child benefit cheques (i.e. Ontario Child Benefit, Canada Child Tax Benefit, and National Child Benefit Supplement, Provincial and federal come in one cheque) 3. Refundable tax credit cheques (i.e. Ontario Sales Tax Credits, Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, Northern Ontario Energy Credit, Working Income Tax Benefit)OW / ODSP financial eligibility is different from that for child benefits and refundable tax credits whichare delivered through the tax systemFor tax‐delivered income, like child benefits and refundable tax credits, financial eligibility is based onthe amount of income they declare on their annual tax return. Other eligibility criteria can also apply.Advantages 1. You don’t have to be on social assistance to get it –This can help in the transition between assistance and work. People on low‐income often move between social assistance and low‐paid work – tax‐delivered benefits are “portable”. Government sees it as an incentive to working while social or justice groups see this as people facing a labour market that no longer works. 2. Could reduce punitive elements of OW and ODSPFinancial eligibility is determined by income only, not income and assets as in OW and ODSP. Not having assets included in financial eligibility means people wouldn’t have to get rid of all their savings and investments before being eligible for help. Income is assessed once a year, at tax time, instead of monthly as in OW and ODSP. Assessing income annually rather than monthly would remove many of the intrusive and punitive aspects of OW and ODSP and reduce the amount of paperwork that social assistance requires. 3. Could reduce stigmaThe tax system is viewed in a much more neutral light than social assistance. Giving people income through the tax system may thus reduce stigma. 4. Could get governments to invest more money and protectprograms Governments seem more willing to invest in tax‐deliveredincome programs than in direct income support programs likesocial assistance.Tax‐delivered programs may thus be less likely to be cut or notinvested in than programs like social assistance. Disadvantages 1. You have to file an income tax return to get the income -This is not easy. The forms are getting more complex as more tax creditsare added to the system. Paying a company to do your taxes means youhave that much less money. 2. Difficulties getting benefits are not easily dealt with -If a calculation is wrong or there is a problem with eligibility. The process at the Canada Revenue Agency to deal with this can be lengthy, nottransparent, and not easy. Resources to help low‐income people through this process are limited. 3. Could impact any income still coming through OW or ODSP- the implementation of the Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) ‐ OW andODSP basic needs rates were reduced ‐ certain lump‐sum benefits weremoved out of OW / ODSP and into the OCB.While families on assistance ended up getting more money than they hadbefore, some family types got less net benefit from the OCB than lowincomepeople who work, or than other family types on assistance.And more tax delivered income could make some people ineligible for OWor ODSP. 4. More cheques means more cheque cashing fees - An increase in the number of cheques you receive fromdifferent sources will mean more cheque cashing fees, whichwill have an impact on your income.Most of the information came from a webinar sponsored by Community Legal Education Ontario –January 25, 2012
  3. 3. 5. Stigma is not completely erased by delivery through the tax system - Increasing tax‐delivered income could just lead to an increasein the stigma attached to the tax system. 6. People without permanent resident or citizen status in Canada could be excluded -Eligibility of the Ontario Child Benefit depends on eligibility for the federal CCTB and NCBS,which requires citizenship, permanent residentstatus, protected person status, or a valid permit inthe 19th month.In OW and ODSP, status is not part of eligibility. 7. Transitions can be very difficult for people with low incomes - If and when income is moved from social assistance into thetax‐delivered income system, government must ensure thatany negative impacts are addressed. Refundable tax credit payment recently changed fromlump sum to quarterly.People were not well informed of the change. No measureswere put in place to minimize the impact of the loss of thelump‐sum payment. This means people are no longer able tocount on a lump‐sum for large purchasesHousing Benefit?The Commission could propose a Housing Benefit, which some advocates have been pushing for. It willlikely be delivered through the tax system.Housing Benefit is a means tested social security benefit that isintended to help meet housing costs for rented accommodation. This is seen by advocates as a way forgovernment to help low‐incomeOntarians, while giving people on OW and ODSP extra income. TheDrummond Commission on the way government delivers services islooking at finding cost savings. Oneway to save costs may be to move thedelivery of social assistance income benefitsFive pressing issues in OntarioFive top issues were identified by many organizations and individuals: Defining people with disabilities based on who “can” and“cannot” work Accommodation and AODA Mandatory participation in work‐related activities Mandatory treatment and rehabilitation Special Diet AllowancePrinciplesWhen looking at this option along with the other two upcoming options, we need to consider a number ofguiding principles to support such change. Different organizations have suggested the following: Adequate standard of living Dignity Poverty reduction Accessibility For OW, from punitive and counterproductive to supportive and accessible For ODSP, from punitive and inaccessible to supportive and inclusiveIf you want to review the details on tax-delivered income, please go to of the information came from a webinar sponsored by Community Legal Education Ontario –January 25, 2012