As the details of Stephen Harper's income splitting plan are made public, it becomes clear how grotesque his "family friendly" policy is. Carol Goar writes that a small minority of Canadians will give income splitting enthusiastic support:
For about 15 per cent of the population, the answer is an enthusiastic yes. These taxpayers — typically high-earning breadwinners with stay-at-home spouses and kids — will receive an average of $1,140 more a year in tax relief and children’s benefits.
For 12 per cent of Canadians — single parents and working parents in similar tax brackets — the answer is an equivocal yes. They’ll get an additional $615 a year in children’s benefits, but no tax reduction.
For the remaining 73 per cent of the population — couples without children, parents of children over 18, young singles and pensioners — the answer ranges from an altruistic maybe (in the case of grandparents) to a flat no (in the case underemployed youth). They will get nothing.
What this amounts to is a massive income transfer wrapped in child-friendly language.
And, when you get into the fine print, the gross injustice of Harper's tax break is stunning:
The lion’s share of the $27 billion will go to better-off families. They’re the only ones who can afford the “traditional” model of child-rearing in which Dad works, Mom takes care of the kids and one income supports everybody.
A disproportionate percentage will go to parents in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where one-earner families are more common than in eastern Canada. According to the Broadbent Institute, which analyzed the regional impact of Harper’s plan, 22.8 per cent of families with children in Alberta are eligible for the maximum benefit compared to 13.8 per cent nationally. Just 7.4 per cent of Quebec families with children qualify for the full benefit. (Ontario is in the middle at 14.1 per cent.)
Parents in their late 20s and 30s, who set aside money to start a family, will do better than their younger counterparts who need two incomes.
And families with grandparents nearby who can take care of the children will be at an advantage. This arrangement allows one parent to work part-time while the other maximizes the family income.
In all cases, tax dollars flow from the majority of Canadians to a well-off minority.
But Harper has always been about serving the interests of a well off minority.