Ottawa ought to protect funding for OAS by eliminating outdated tax shelters for retirees

Open this photograph in gallery: There’s little income left over from financial progress to put money into the children and grandchildren of boomers, and we saddle their offspring with massive unpaid payments.VectorInspiration/iStockPhoto / Getty Photos

Preserving Canada’s Outdated Age Safety system is critical to guard Canada’s proud legacy of investing within the monetary safety of retirees, which has lowered poverty amongst seniors under that of every other age group.

Nonetheless, the sustainability of OAS is below risk as our inhabitants ages. OAS price $69-billion in 2022. By 2027 it should price $96-billion. This $27-billion enhance is as massive as your entire price range for Employment Insurance coverage or the Canada Baby Profit. There’s no escaping that OAS prices are rising quicker than all different coverage measures within the federal price range.

Sadly, tax revenues should not holding tempo with the rising price of OAS. This leads to rising authorities deficits, for which Conservative Chief Pierre Poilievre blames inflation. It additionally pressures governments to restrict different investments, as signalled by Ottawa’s plan to chop $15-billion from annual spending. To deal with these fiscal challenges, Ottawa ought to assessment outdated tax shelters for retirees that drain billions in income and will in any other case assist cowl rising OAS prices.

Mr. Poilievre finds it politically handy responsible the Prime Minister for the $132-billion in deficits projected over the subsequent 5 years. Actuality, nevertheless, is extra difficult.

Absolutely 84 per cent of these deficits could be accounted for by elevated OAS spending, together with extra money for medical care utilized by these over the age of 64. This reveals that modern deficits have much less to do with coverage selections made by the present authorities than with insufficient income selections made by earlier ones.

Many years in the past, politicians selected to disregard the predictable implications of the demographic bulge represented by the newborn increase. Throughout their working years, child boomers paid taxes when there have been seven working-age adults for each retiree. Now, in retirement, boomers count on the identical or higher helps when there are solely three working-age Canadians to pay for each senior. There’s little income left over from financial progress to put money into the children and grandchildren of boomers, and we saddle their offspring with massive unpaid payments.

Neither Mr. Poilievre nor Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is prone to scale back spending on OAS as a result of it’s perceived to be too politically dangerous. Nonetheless, some outdated tax expenditures could possibly be safer politically to reallocate as a result of they’re much less well-loved by the voters. Two stand out: the Age and Pension Earnings credit that date again to 1987, when poverty charges amongst seniors nonetheless lingered close to or above these of youthful folks. Collectively these credit drain $6.4-billion yearly from the federal price range. Some, or all, of this cash could possibly be redeployed to assist cowl the rising price of OAS.

At $5-billion yearly, the Age Credit score prices as a lot as Ottawa invested in $10-a-day baby care this yr. It shelters $8,000 of earnings from taxation for folks over 64, delivering a most advantage of $1,200 for retirees with incomes under $40,000. The tax shelter solely phases out fully for retirees with incomes of greater than $92,000.

That cutoff is about $25,000 greater than the median earnings of all Canadians. On condition that Statistics Canada reviews many youthful folks now forgo having kids due to the massive hole between their housing prices and their incomes from full-time work, it’s arbitrary to take care of an age-based tax shelter for these over the age of 64 when this demographic has probably the most wealth and least poverty of any age group in Canada.

Equally, the Pension Earnings Credit score prices Ottawa $1.4-billion yearly. It permits any retiree to shelter $2,000 in pension earnings from taxation. This credit score successfully privileges pension earnings over earnings from paid work, although minimum-wage and different low-wage employees usually tend to expertise poverty and housing insecurity than retirees.

The fact of politics being what it’s, Mr. Poilievre will doubtless proceed rallying his base by claiming that the Prime Minister is personally chargeable for right this moment’s massive federal deficits. Nonetheless, it might be extra correct if the opposition chief charged that the federal government shouldn’t be shifting quick sufficient to repair issues created many years in the past.

To repair the fiscal issues imposed by OAS, we’d like to withstand partisan rhetoric that attracts consideration away from the onerous reality that previous administrations didn’t plan income techniques adequately to pay for the growing older of the newborn boomers. A federal process pressure on generational equity could be useful to treatment this problem – one designed to guard wholesome retirements for our growing older family members whereas preserving a wholesome childhood, house and planet for his or her youngsters and grandchildren.

Dr. Paul Kershaw is a coverage professor at UBC and the founding father of Era Squeeze, Canada’s leadingvoice for generational equity. You possibly can comply with Gen Squeeze on Twitter, Fb, Instagram, and subscribe to Paul’s Laborious Truths podcast.