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Tax cut hype

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Have you seen those snazzy ads on TV touting the bevy of new Harper tax cuts? The one where the cheerful citizens pull dozens of new tax benefits, like the one for first-time homebuyers, out of the air? My beau and I just bought a new house and we were checking out how much we might get from that credit. Turns out, bupkis.

The homebuyers tax credit doesn't apply unless:

  • You bought a house, like, in the last two weeks.
  • The person you are shacking up with has also never owned a house.

By my informal count, about seven Canadians will actually qualify for the tax credit this year. More could get it next year, but isn't the economy supposed to be better by then? I should have known all this, since I was in the federal budget lock-up earlier this year with my colleague Mia Rabson. I think I even wrote the box describing the bevy of tax cuts on offer. But it goes to show just how little real money flows to people from much-hyped tax cuts.

It's the same provincially. In their budget last week, the Doer government tweaked income taxes and the education property tax credit. For me and pretty much every other middle class family in the province, the changes amount to one extra trip to the Googleplex on cheap Tuesday. And it costs the government millions.

It has always seemed to me that tax cuts only work if they're massive -- the kind that puts $1,000 into the pockets of families rather than $100. Anything less has no real affect on consumer spending and only puts added pressure on services I care about.

I'd give up my $7 a month if it means people like 93-year-old Emma Elvers get a bed in Winnipeg close to her family and gets prompt enough medical care that gangrene doesn't force doctors to amputate her toes.

(And her teeth, which the staff in the Hamiota hospital apparently forgot when they shipped her to Russell more than week ago. That was her 12th ambulance ride.)

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About Mary Agnes Welch

Mary Agnes Welch joined the Free Press in 2002, first as a general assignment reporter and then covering city hall and the Manitoba legislature before moving to her current post as public policy reporter.

Before Winnipeg, she worked at the Windsor Star and the Odessa American, a small daily newspaper in West Texas. There, in addition to covering more than 20 counties, she took high school football scores from coaches all over West Texas by phone every Friday night.

Mary Agnes is a graduate of Columbia University’s journalism school, has won several Western Ontario Newspaper Awards and has been part of two teams of reporters nominated for a Michener Award. In 2011, she was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in the beat category. She is also the former national president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

She once misspelled "Shih Tzu" in the paper and received 37 emails from angry dog-owners.

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