Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order respecting the procedural acceptability of Bill C-219, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction for volunteer emergency service), which is currently on the order of precedence in the name of the hon. for Malpeque.
Without commenting on the merits of the bill, I would ask the Speaker to rule on whether the bill conforms to the procedural requirements for tax legislation.
Briefly stated, the Income Tax Act has been amended since the introduction of Bill C-219, so that the bill now has the unintended effect of increasing taxes.
Although the bill was in order when it was first introduced, I will be arguing that the bill should have been preceded by a ways and means motion when it was reinstated in the current session of Parliament.
I will therefore be arguing that the bill should be withdrawn from the order paper.
Bill C-219 proposes to amend the Income Tax Act to allow volunteer emergency workers to deduct $1,000 from their taxable income if they performed at least 100 hours of volunteer service and $2,000 if they performed at least 200 hours of volunteer service.
Bill C-219 was first introduced in the House during the previous session of Parliament on April 10, 2006.
On October 16, 2007 the bill was deemed to have been introduced and read a first time in the current session of Parliament pursuant to Standing Order 86.1 which provides for the reinstatement of private members' business following a prorogation.
As the Speaker knows, bills that increase the level of taxation must first be preceded by the adoption of a ways and means motion. The 22nd edition of Erskine May states at pages 777 and 778 that matters requiring authorization by a ways and means resolution include “the repeal or reduction of existing alleviations of taxation, such as exemptions or drawbacks”.
Bill C-219 proposes to amend the Income Tax Act to provide a tax deduction for voluntary emergency workers. Erskine May makes clear at page 781 that bills that alleviate taxation do not require a ways and means motion.
I therefore recognize that the bill was properly before the House when it was first introduced in the previous session of this Parliament. However, since Bill C-219 was first introduced, the Income Tax Act has been amended and as a consequence Bill C-219 will now have the unintended effect of increasing levels of taxation.
Let me take a moment to explain why.
Bill C-219 would add proposed paragraphs 60(y) and 60(z), and proposed sections 60.03 and 60.04 to the Income Tax Act. As I noted earlier, after Bill C-219 was introduced, the Income Tax Act was amended by Parliament in ways which affect Bill C-219.
First, paragraph 60(y) of the Income Tax Act was added by subsection 174(1) of the Budget Implementation Act, 2006, which received royal assent on June 22, 2006.
The effect of this new paragraph is to provide a deduction equal to the amount of any universal child care benefit that a taxpayer is required to pay. The deduction is necessary because when the taxpayer initially received the universal child care benefit the amount is required to be treated as income. As such, it is taxable.
However, if the benefit is to be repaid, taxes would be paid on an amount the taxpayer did not get to keep. That is why the deduction is required. Without it, more taxes are paid. Therefore, removing the deduction would have the effect of increasing the taxes paid.
Proposed paragraph 60(y) contained in Bill C-219 would set out the new tax deduction proposed in the bill but would also have the effect of replacing existing paragraph 60(y) in the Income Tax Act. Therefore, as currently drafted, Bill C-219 would result in a greater tax burden.
The same could also be said for proposed paragraph 60(z), contained in Bill C-219. Section 105 of the Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007, which received royal assent on December 14, 2007, has already added paragraph 60(z) to the Income Tax Act.
Paragraph 60(z) provides for the deduction of any repayment of any grants or bonds paid under the Canada Disability Savings Act. Bill C-219 would remove that deduction.
The third change to the Income Tax Act to which I wish to draw attention is proposed section 60.03 which was added by section 5(1) of the Budget Implementation Act, 2007, which received royal assent on June 22, 2007.
Section 60.03 of the Income Tax Act allows a couple to split their pension income to permit them to take advantage of a lower effective marginal tax rate.
The proposed section 60.03 of Bill C-219 sets out the evidence taxpayers are required to submit to be eligible for the new tax deduction proposed in the bill, but would also have the effect of replacing the existing section 60.03 in the Income Tax Act. In other words, Bill C-219 would repeal the pension splitting provisions and therefore result in a greater tax burden for seniors.
We have with Bill C-219 an unusual circumstance. A ways and means motion was not required when the bill was introduced in the previous session because the bill did not have the effect of increasing taxes at that time.
However, Bill C-219 amends the Income Tax Act, which has since been amended. The provisions of the Income Tax Act, which are being repealed by Bill C-219, were for the benefit of taxpayers. By removing these provisions, we would be adding to the tax burden. Consequently, I would suggest that the bill should have been preceded by an adoption of a ways of means motion at the time of reintroduction in this session and that the bill is therefore now improperly before the House.
I note that in this session the government tabled ways and means motions and had them adopted by the House before the reinstatement of two government tax increase bills from the previous session, namely Bill C-10, the income tax bill, and Bill C-12, the bankruptcy and wage earner protection bill. The government would have tabled a ways and means motion for any new government bill to increase taxes which would remove provisions added in previous budget bills.
In addition, I suggest that the requirement for a ways and means motion is not limited to the introduction of a bill, but also to any motion that would increase taxation. For example, it is clear that motions to amend bills that have the effect of increasing taxation require a ways and means motion. Citation 982 of the sixth edition of Beauchesne's states that, “No motion can therefore be made to impose a tax”.
It could therefore be argued that the motion for second reading of Bill C-219 is out of order, as the bill would have the effect of increasing the levels of taxation.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, if you were to find that Bill C-219 is now improperly before the House, as I argue, I believe you would be obliged to direct that the order for second reading of the bill be discharged and the bill be withdrawn from the order paper, as you did in the case of Bill C-418 earlier in the session, on November 28, 2007.