Evidence of meeting #59 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was change.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Ted Cook  Senior Legislative Chief, Tax Legislation Division, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance
  • Sean Keenan  Director, Personal Income Tax Division, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance
  • Brian McCauley  Assistant Commissioner, Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch, Canada Revenue Agency
  • Pierre Mercille  Senior Legislative Chief, Sales Tax Division, GST Legislation, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance
  • Lucia Di Primio  Chief, Excise Policy, Sales Tax Division, Excise Act, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance
  • Gordon Boissonneault  Senior Advisor, Economic Analysis and Forecasting Division, Demand and Labour Analysis, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Department of Finance
  • Jane Pearse  Director, Financial Institutions Division, Financial Sector Policy Branch, Department of Finance
  • Annie Hardy  Chief, Financial Institutions Division, Structural Issues, Financial Sector Policy Branch, Department of Finance
  • Ling Wang  Chief, Financial Institutions Division, Housing Finance Review, Financial Sector Policy Branch, Department of Finance

3:50 p.m.

Assistant Commissioner, Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch, Canada Revenue Agency

Brian McCauley

Yes, I think that's an excellent point. There is information there, but charities shouldn't have to guess about what's reasonable or not reasonable. In fact, we have meetings even this week with the sector, starting to talk to them about what would be the most helpful way to minimize any confusion or uncertainty. That would include examples, other things they might suggest. So yes, it's for our best interests as well as the interests of charities that we make all reasonable efforts to define what “reasonable” means with the sector.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

If I understand correctly, the Minister of National Revenue can decide to revoke an organization's charity number if she feels that the organization has exceeded its political jurisdiction or limits.

3:50 p.m.

Assistant Commissioner, Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch, Canada Revenue Agency

Brian McCauley

Yes, but as we mentioned at the Senate hearings, the minister does not make those decisions. Those decisions are delegated into the CRA, so those decisions have to be made on the basis of objective criteria and our analysis. We do not go to the minister to request her authorization to revoke charities. We do that within the CRA.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you, Monsieur Mai.

We'll go to Mr. Jean, please.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Actually, Mr. Chair, I've had an opportunity to go through most of the materials up to part 1, and I don't really have any more questions in relation to it.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you.

Mr. Brison.

May 16th, 2012 / 3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

To return to Ms. Nash's question, you went through the costs of two of the tax measures, the mining tax credit and the RRDPs, in this part. What about the other measures? Can you take us through all of the tax reductions—all of these measures in part 1—and tell us what the expected annual cost will be to the treasury? You've done that with two of them, but not with the others.

When the impact is, you're saying, too small to provide an estimate.... Could you inform us what that means: too small to provide an estimate? It seems hard to comprehend that any measure could not be quantified in some way. Is it less than $100 million a year, or is it $10 million a year? At least provide us with a range.

And have you calculated the total tax expenditures of these measures in part 1?

3:55 p.m.

Senior Legislative Chief, Tax Legislation Division, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance

Ted Cook

In the information provided in the budget there's an indication of the cost on a year-by-year basis over five years for each of the tax measures indicated. Where there is no estimate, the indicator we use is less than $1 million per year, or a measure that is designed to protect the income tax base, as opposed to raise or spend revenue.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Just to understand, you say that when an impact is too small to provide an estimate, the threshold is $1 million per year of revenue lost to the government. Is that the threshold you apply consistently?

3:55 p.m.

Senior Legislative Chief, Tax Legislation Division, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance

Ted Cook

That is the threshold in terms of the particular estimates that are provided with the supplementary information for the tax measures.

I'm not an expert in revenue forecasting. I believe that's in the context of the fiscal framework. We have a kind of ongoing model with respect to revenues.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

So what you're saying is that the expected impact of some of these tax measures, the ones for which you have not provided an actual specific or granular estimate, will be less than $1 million a year.

3:55 p.m.

Senior Legislative Chief, Tax Legislation Division, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance

Ted Cook

That is correct.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

That seems like a fairly insignificant tax measure. You have to ask the question—I guess it's more political than bureaucratic—why it would even be.... If its impact is expected to be only $1 million per year, it seems like a very insignificant measure.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Mr. McCauley, do you want to answer that?

3:55 p.m.

Assistant Commissioner, Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch, Canada Revenue Agency

Brian McCauley

I was going to say that there are measures, for example, that provide for penalty provisions, and others that are meant to protect the integrity of the tax system; they're measures that help prevent people from taking advantage of the tax system and that are useful for us but that don't have an active impact on the fiscal framework. They're there to protect the integrity of the system.

There are some measures, for example, that we would administer at no cost, because we build the cost into the system, but they're to protect the framework rather than adjust the fiscal outcomes.