Prime Minister Stephen Harper (left) stands with Finance Minister Joe Oliver as he arrives to table the budget on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. (The Canadian Press)

The 2015 Federal Budget is the last budget presented by the present Conservative government before Canada goes to the polls in 6 months’ time. While this budget is being perceived as voter-friendly by many analysts, families and small business owners surely come out as winners from this budget. The following are some of the highlights of 2015 federal budget:

  • A Balanced Budget- The federal budget has posted a surplus of $1.4 billion after many years. Although the finance minister has been accused of manipulating the books as the contingency fund goes down to $1 billion from last year’s $3 billion, a surplus will mean that the federal debt will not increase, nor will the cost to service that debt, which is by itself a significant cost to taxpayers.
  • The budget favours the savers– The Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) limit has been increased to $10000 from existing $5500. This is significant 82% increase which will benefit a lot of families that are saving for buying their home, starting their business or for their child’s education.
  • Small businesses are big winners– Starting in 2016, the small business tax rate will start to gradually decrease to 9% from the existing 11%. This is will boost small business growth, help small business owners create more jobs and strengthen the local economies of Canadian cities.
  • Families take it all- When it comes to higher tax refunds and increased benefits, Canadian families with children get the biggest piece of the cake. The Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) has been increased to $160 from $100 from every child under six years of age and an amount of $60 has been introduced children above six years of age. Additionally, a maximum benefit of $2000 can be reaped if one spouse has a significantly higher income than their partner using the Family Tax Cut.
  • Breaking the Gridlock- For the first time in many years, the federal government has pledged funds to invest in infrastructure in the major metropolitan cities of the country. Toronto will benefit greatly from this but the money will not be available before 2017 as the finance minister feels that these major projects require a lot of planning and funds will be ready when needed.
  • Caring for the seniors- The EI compassionate care has been increased from 6 weeks to 6 months. Also the seniors will have more flexible laws on withdrawing money from their RRIF accounts.

While the budget aims to help out families and small business owners, the biggest disappointment came from the fact that the Adult Fitness Credit did not find its way to the budget—something that that Prime Minister Harper promised. While globally a lot of effort is being made on the environment front and making our world more sustainable, there was no mention of any funding towards environment initiatives. Our defence and RCMP budget continues to grow. The government also aims to save $900 million dollars by revamping policies for their public sector workers.  An extra $58.2 million will also be spent on ensuring tax compliance and chasing down tax evaders and what CRA calls those engaging in “aggressive tax avoidance”.

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