Before resuming debate on this bill, I am prepared to rule on the point of order raised on June 18, 2009 by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons concerning the requirement for a royal recommendation for Bill C-290, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for loss of retirement income), standing in the name of the member for Richmond—Arthabaska.
I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for having raised this matter, as well as the member for Richmond—Arthabaska for his contribution to the questions.
Members will recall that Bill C-290 was among those bills identified as causing some concern for the chair, as stated on June 2 at Debates, page 4074. In his remarks, the parliamentary secretary clearly identified Bill C-290 as proposing to reintroduce a refundable tax credit. He further commented that refundable credits are direct benefits paid to individuals regardless of whether the tax is owed or not, and are paid out of the consolidated revenue fund.
He went on to point out, citing a Speaker's ruling made on June 4, 2007, and a ruling made by the Speaker of the other place on May 11, 2006, that refundable tax credits have been ruled to require a royal recommendation.
In his comments on this issue, the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska, while acknowledging that the bill seeks to create a refundable tax credit, drew the attention of the House to an earlier Speaker’s ruling of October 16, 1995 in support of his contention that measures to alleviate taxation do not require a royal recommendation.
The chair notes that a question similar to that at issue here was raised with respect to Bill C-445, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for loss of retirement income), in the second session of the 39th Parliament.
That bill, which appears to be very similar to Bill C-290, was also introduced by the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, and was determined to require a royal recommendation in a ruling given on May 2, 2008.
The chair has reviewed carefully Bill C-290, particularly with respect to the manner in which it compares to the earlier Bill C-445, and as was noted in the May 2, 2008 ruling on Bill C-445,
Whether or not the tax credit is refundable or non-refundable is the key issue in determining the need for a royal recommendation.
Non refundable credits are deducted from a person’s tax payable rather than being calculated separately: they simply reduce the amount of tax payable by an individual.
Refundable credits, on the other hand, are not limited simply to the reduction of tax payable. They provide an entitlement to funds which is independent of the tax otherwise due. They are calculated separately and, where no further reduction of tax payable is possible, they give rise to a disbursement from the consolidated revenue fund. Any such disbursement, no matter how it may be characterized in the legislation which proposes it, represents spending for a new and distinct purpose and must therefore be accompanied by a royal recommendation.
In this regard, there does not appear to be any substantive difference between Bill C-290 and its predecessor, Bill C-445. Both involve refundable tax credits.
Accordingly, the Chair will decline to put the question on third reading of Bill C-290 in its present form unless a royal recommendation is received.
The debate, however, is on the motion for second reading, and this motion will be put to a vote at the conclusion of the second reading debate.