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B.C. BUDGET: Surplus funds low-income assistance
VICTORIA – Expecting budget surpluses for the next three years, the B.C. government is ending the deduction of spousal child support from social assistance payments and providing modest benefits for other low-income earners.
A target of single parents and poverty advocacy organizations in recent years, the "clawback" of child support payments ends Sept. 1. That is expected to leave about $32 million more over the next three years in the pockets of the parents who receive child support along with income assistance and disability payments, a benefit to 3,200 families and 5,400 children.
Community Living B.C., responsible for developmentally disabled adults, gets an additional $106 million over three years, and $20 million is added to the general budget for income assistance. Caseloads for both are expected to increase and individual payment rates stay the same.
This is also the budget that ends a two-year increase of 2.1 per cent in tax on income more than $150,000 a year. The provincial income tax rate for that tax bracket returns to 14.7 per cent, which de Jong said is part of the lowest personal income tax rates in the country.
At the low end of the income scale, the exemption from paying any personal income tax goes to the first $19,000 earned, up from $18,000.
An early childhood tax benefit begins April 1, with up to $660 a year for each child up to the age of six, designed to assist with child care costs.
This is also the year the province's training and education savings grant begins to be paid out for children who reach six years old. It is a one-time payment of $1,200 born since Jan. 1, 2007, to be placed in a registered education savings plan.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong said the current fiscal year is expected to finish with a surplus of almost $900 million, due mainly to better than expected personal and corporate income tax revenues, strong retail sales and a one-time adjustment of federal tax payments.
After an additional $3 billion to the ever-growing health care budget and $576 million more for education over the next three years, the surplus for 2015-16 is projected to be $284 million.
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