Harper unveils controversial marquee tax relief for Canadian families

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is pressing ahead with income splitting for families with kids under 18 — a multibillion-dollar Conservative election promise from 2011 that critics have said would benefit too few Canadians.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper is pressing ahead with income splitting for families with kids under 18 — a multibillion-dollar Conservative election promise from 2011 that critics have said would benefit too few Canadians.

Harper says the Conservative government is also boosting the universal child care benefit — $160 a month for kids under six, up from $100, plus a new monthly benefit of $60 for children aged six through 17, effective in 2015.

The so-called “Family Tax Cut” will allow an eligible taxpayer to transfer up to $50,000 of income to his or her spouse for tax purposes in order to collect a non-refundable tax credit of up to $2,000 per year.

Those two measures together will cost $3.1 billion in 2014-15 and $4.5 billion in 2015-16.

The Conservatives made the income-splitting promise during the 2011 election campaign, but it was contingent on the federal books being balanced.

Harper has said the federal deficit in the past fiscal year would be $5.2 billion, a fraction of the $16.6 billion forecast, but insisted there won’t be a surplus until next year.

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