Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will be supporting this bill so that we can examine it more thoroughly in committee. My colleague, the member for Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, spoke about the Bloc Québécois's position in the speech he gave on February 1. He clearly explained why we will be supporting this bill.
He also pointed out the lack of substance in this ways and means motion, which was moved just before the holidays. In fact, this ways and means motion seemed much more a political exercise to create the impression that the Liberals were keeping their election promise. However, that was just one small part of the picture. The Liberals were not considering the overall picture in terms of the tax reforms that are required.
In its haste, the government introduced an incomplete bill. It is short on measures on income splitting and helping families, which leaves us with an imbalanced tax reform that does very little for most people. People in the very upper middle class, those with a taxable income of nearly $90,000, are the ones who will enjoy the largest tax cuts. There is nothing for middle- or lower-income taxpayers. I am talking about more than two-thirds of Quebeckers, the very people who need a boost the most.
People only start paying more tax if their gross income is higher than roughly $250,000. For example, members of the House of Commons, whose income is at the limit that I mentioned, will not pay more in taxes. It is not right, considering that their income is higher than average. We are quite far from the tax reform promised during the election campaign, which, according to Liberal Party documents, sought to make the tax system fairer, more progressive, and beneficial to most families. This motion does no such thing.
However minor it may be, it is nevertheless an improvement over the status quo, which the Conservatives and New Democrats wanted to perpetuate, in particular by promising a balanced budget. We will give the government a chance and support this initiative, in the hope that new measures will be introduced in the budget on March 22.
Since the government decided before Christmas to rush this ways and means motion, we do not understand why it did not make the UCCB tax-free in this motion. That amount was adopted precipitously by the previous government, just before the election. It was a bit of an election goody for families, but it was taxable; in other words, it had to be declared as taxable income. This tax credit would be added to families' incomes, and families would then have to pay back part of it. There was a lot of talk during the election campaign about making this benefit tax-free.
The same thing could be said about the tax credit for labour-sponsored funds, 80% of which are in Quebec. That tax credit should have been restored in full before the end of 2015, so that the issue could have been resolved before the end of RRSP season, which just ended.
That being said, before we throw any stones, we are waiting for the budget, because we think the government's real intentions will be revealed in this budget. We also believe that the somewhat botched and incomplete notice of motion tabled before Christmas was merely political smoke and mirrors.
In the notice of ways and means motion, right now, the maximum federal income tax rate is 29%. That applies to all income in excess of precisely $138,586 for the year. In the notice of ways and means motion, the government is introducing, effective as of January, some of the measures promised during the election campaign, but not all of them.
As I said earlier, the motion includes a new fifth tax bracket that would raise the tax on income in excess of $200,000 for the year from 29% to 33%. It would also reduce the tax rate on income within the second tax bracket from 22% to 20.5% and lower the TFSA limit.
During the election campaign, the Liberals said that changing income tax rates would cost very little, and they said that the two changes would balance each other out. They also talked about income splitting and reducing the TFSA limit.
The fact is that they overestimated revenue and underestimated the shortfall. The measures in the notice of ways and means motion will cost $1.2 billion. That is what we are talking about today in connection with this bill. Things will not balance out after all.
The other measures in the notice of ways and means motion, such as corporate taxes, taxes on dividend income and investment income, and charitable tax deductions, are essentially technical and are merely there for reasons of consistency.
There are a number of measures missing from this bill. I am talking about the so-called progressive measures from the election campaign. Of course, we heard about income tax on income over $200,000 a year, which I mentioned earlier, income tax for the second tax bracket, and TFSA limits. However, there are no measures to eliminate income splitting and make child benefits tax free, for example. There are two important measures missing from this notice of ways and means motion.
Take, for example, the elimination of income splitting. This provision enables a family member with a higher income to transfer up to $50,000 to their spouse with a lower income, so the couple can save the equivalent of the difference in tax rates.
The rich and members of the upper middle class are the ones who will benefit the most from income splitting. Also, the goal of Quebec's family policy is to help women enter the labour market, and it has been successful in doing so. Income splitting does exactly the opposite. It is particularly beneficial for traditional families where the husband has a good income and the wife stays at home. The government is still favouring this type of family approach.
In a scrum, the Minister of Finance indicated that income splitting will be eliminated for 2016 and that the measure will not be introduced until later. Let us hope that it will be in the coming budget. The same goes for the changes to family benefits. The Liberals promised to make changes to programs to support families. Their plan was to merge all of the programs to create the Canada child benefit. According to their platform, this new benefit will be tax free and tied to income. That means that low-income families will get more, families with higher incomes will get less, and the richest families will not get anything. We agree with that.
However, if these changes do not come into effect until July, there will be six months next year when people have to pay for the income they received under the UCCB, a family program implemented by the previous government.
I would like to close by saying that this bill is a small step forward, but there is really something missing. If we are given the opportunity to speak in committee, we will, of course, be very interested in proposing real ways of improving this bill.