BASIC OR LIVING WAGE INCOMES WITHOUT MBM WON’T SOLVE FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice – financialfairnessforsingles.ca).

There are several solutions that have been proposed to solve the issue of poverty and low income.  Increasing the minimum wage is one solution.  With AI and digital revolutions some proposals include living wage or basic wage as a partial solution to the possibility of maintaining level of job numbers as a result of these revolutions.

Living wage research has been helpful in determining what it costs to live in specific urban and rural areas.  However, a living wage is a bare bones wage with no possibility of saving for emergencies or retirement.  The living wage premise is based on adults working full time (one adult in one person adult family, one adult and one child,  two adults and no children or two adults and two children family unit).   However, if living wages are not based on OECD equivalence scales such as Canadian Market Basket Measure or MBM unattached persons and single parents are often the financial losers in these plans.  (If single person household has a value of 1.0, lone parent, one child or two adult household has a value of 1.4, one adult, two children 1.7 and two adult, two children 2.0.  It costs more for singles to live than couples without children).

“Andrew Yang on Universal Basic Income

(https://baseandsuperstructure.com/andrew-yang-ubi) Excerpts from this article describes the UBI plan and provides some rather interesting insights from right and left political perspectives.

‘The plan is relatively simple. The government pays all US citizens between the ages of 18 and 64 a UBI of $1,000 per month, or $12,000 per year. For citizens 65 and up, the existing Social Security system would be left in place.

Yang wants to pay for this system using four sources: a.) eliminating existing social spending (e.g., food stamps, disability, WIC, unemployment insurance, et al.), generating $500-600 billion worth of savings; b.) A value-added tax (VAT) that he estimates will generate $800 billion per year; c.) $500-600 billion in new tax revenue from UBI-generated economic growth; b.) $100-200 billion per year in savings from UBI-generated crime reduction and health savings.’

The article states that problems with the plan include: ‘UBI doesn’t pay people nearly enough, would eliminate social programs, encourage low wage and exploitative labor practices, and put more money into the hands of companies who prey on low income Americans.’  “A Leftist take on Universal Basic Income” (leftist-universal-basic-income-ubi) by same author says ‘Here’s what would happen if a UBI proposal got off the ground in the United States: it would get turned into the right-wing version. It wouldn’t apply to everyone, it wouldn’t pay enough to live, it would gut social programs, or possibly all three of these things.’  The author offers suggestions that better solutions are comprehensive health care, housing and food assistance and indexed minimum wage that is increased every year.

It seems that USA plans for social justice and equality of wages never seem to include equivalence scales like MBM outlined above so singles would benefit the least from the plan because it costs singles more to live than a two person household.

Alberta report on basic income

“An Alberta Guaranteed Income:  Issues and Options” (May 2019) by Wayne Simpson and Harvey Stevens, The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary (https://journalhosting.ucalgary).  Excerpts from the report include:

(From Summary) – ‘For all the job booms and wealth that have benefitted Alberta over the decades, nothing yet has been able to drastically reduce, let alone eliminate poverty in the province.  The prospect of a guaranteed minimum income could help change that, and Alberta is particularly well positioned to roll one out and with relative ease and at a manageable cost.

An Alberta guaranteed basic income could be straightforwardly developed by revising the  existing provincial tax system to make tax credits that are currently non-refundable into  refundable tax credits, such that people earning below the minimum income-tax threshold will still be able to claim them as subsidies.  This can be done while avoiding significant new funding and relying solely on budgetary measures to improve the fairness of the tax system.

Converting just a few non-refundable tax credits into refundable ones can produce a  guaranteed annual income of over $6,000 for a single-adult family and over $9,000 for a  two-adult family, with no significant new funding required. This would improve supports for 37  per cent of Alberta families, with the largest gains properly concentrated among the poorest households, and would reduce the rate and depth of poverty by 25 per cent.

An even more powerful approach would be if Alberta were able to persuade the federal government to combine a similar program federally with the provincial guaranteed basic income, converting non-refundable credits into refundable ones and eliminating the federal GST credit.  A combined federal-provincial guaranteed annual income would increase dramatically to over $13,600 a year for a single-adult family and to over $19,000 a year for a two-adult family.  The disposal income of the poorest 20 per cent of Albertans would increase by more than 50 per cent under the combined plan, while the rate of poverty across all Albertans would be cut by a substantial 44 perr cent.  Among single parents and non-elderly and elderly couples, poverty would be eliminated completely.  And while two-parent families and non-elderly singles would continue to be in poverty, its rate declines significantly and its depth would be reduced by more than half.’

The report ‘offers two models:  one that includes selected non-refundable tax credits but excludes current Alberta refundable tax credits; and one that includes both selected non-refundable tax credits and the refundable credits’ (including Alberta Child Benefit and the Canada Child Benefit in the second model).

The report does talk about Low Income Cut-offs (LICO) and Market Basket Measure (MBM).  They state that LICO has been replaced as Canada’s official poverty measure by the MBM.  However, (page 3) certain versions of statistical reports did not allow them to calculate the MBM measure, so they adopted the traditional LICO measure of the incidence and depth of poverty in the report.

Opinion Letter on above report

In an opinion letter “A basic income that reduces poverty is doable” (alberta-could-afford-a-basic-income-that-reduces-poverty) by Franco Savoia and Jeff Loomis, Executive Directors of Vibrant Communities Calgary and Momentum, respectively, they state:

‘Alberta is a prosperous province, but our poverty rate has hovered around 10 per cent for decades, costing the government more than $2 billion each year….

In recent years, the guaranteed income supplement for seniors and Canada and Alberta child benefits have been credited with reducing poverty rates. Some have gone as far as to call these programs a basic income for seniors and children.

For many in the social services sector, a similar program for adults aged 18-65 is a logical next step…..

Despite this, basic income critics point to the prohibitive costs associated with implementing such a program, noting that governments just don’t have the money. However, new research from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy shows that Alberta could actually afford to do it. Supported by a research partnership with Calgary’s Social Policy Collaborative, economists Wayne Simpson and Harvey Stevens have come up with an Alberta basic income program that wouldn’t require the province to spend any extra money or increase taxes…..

….the Simpson and Stevens program is financed entirely through modest changes to tax policy. By turning five existing non-refundable tax credits into a single refundable credit, the authors suggest that the province could achieve a basic income that would increase the incomes of roughly 40 per cent of Albertans, reduce poverty by almost one-quarter and eliminate poverty for single parents.

But, as always, the devil is in the details.

A notable element of the proposal is the decision to keep in place the current income support system — a choice that some basic income advocates may not support. Many envision a basic income as a better — and simpler — alternative to existing income supports, which are complex and often needlessly bureaucratic.

Also concerning is the redistributive impact of the tax reform required to create the program, which would result in increased tax pressures for middle-income earners.

These shortcomings aside, the Simpson and Stevens proposal is proof that basic income is more than a pipe dream in Alberta. And though the proposal wouldn’t eliminate poverty completely — it would leave many non-elderly single Albertans below the poverty line — it would be a significant step forward in our efforts to make poverty a thing of the past. As the basic income conversation evolves, both in Alberta and across the country, the School of Public Policy report has contributed valuable insight. We’re excited to see where the discussion goes.’

CONCLUSION

Shocking statistics show that in one of the richest provinces (Alberta) there were in January 2014, 33,000 Alberta Income Support program (excluding AISH) recipients of all ages.  Alberta Income Support program in January, 2017, had 54,374 recipients and in January, 2018, 57,003 recipients.  Makeup of claimants in 2017 and 2018 include individuals 69%, lone-parent families 24%, couples with children 5%, and couples alone 3%.  Totals do not say how many are turned away and do not include those who on verge of poverty.

It is a sad fact that regardless of what financial manipulations are applied to minimum wage and living wage or basic wage models, singles or unattached persons always appear to come out as the financial losers.  Until Market Basket Measures, etc. are applied so that one person households benefit equally to other households, social injustice and income inequality will remain for single persons.  But then who gives a damn?

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

REGRESSIVE TAX EXPENDITURE MISCONCEPTIONS INCLUDING GOVERNMENT DIVIDEND CHEQUES

REGRESSIVE TAX EXPENDITURE MISCONCEPTIONS INCLUDING GOVERNMENT DIVIDEND CHEQUES

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This opinion letter was originally submitted in abbreviated format to a local newspaper in response to a reader opinion letter.  It emphasizes the bizarreness of Conservatives who don’t see Alaskan natural resources dividends as being equivalent to a basic income program, view dividend cheques to be a right, not a privilege (while touting individual responsibility), and have no problem with receiving these monies even for children who haven’t worked for it or paid taxes.

The blog post ‘Money Benefit Programs Financially Benefit Married/coupled Persons and Families More Than Singles’ highlighting Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends was originally published several years ago and has been reproduced in its entirety at the end of this post.

RE:  READER OPINION LETTER ON ALASKA PERMANENT FUND DIVIDEND (PFD)

(Alaskan dividend program was established by the Republican (conservative) party in 1976.  From 1996 to 2015, the benefits have ranged from a low of $846 to a high of $2,072 annually.  For a family of four the twenty year total amounts to $113,156, and for a single person household the amount is $28,289.  A lot more can be done with $113,000 than $28,000. And, all is not as rosy as it seems. Alaska also has concerns about excessive government spending (pfd-effect).  For the third straight year, dividends would be more than $1,000 less than they would be under the previous formula written into state law).

The reader opinion letter, while stating Klein and related Conservative ilk took money out of voter pockets, also implies that it is better that every Alaskan man, woman, and child has received $43,000 in annual dividend cheques since 1982 – 2017 amount was $1,100. Single person household would have received $1,100, lone parent with child or married with no children $2,200, two adults, one child $3,300 and two adults, two children $4,400. You figure out what each household would have received over twenty years during lifecycle of rearing children.

The same truth applies to Klein $400 bucks. A family with eight children received $4,000 while single person received $400 (this is a true story).

Why is it that Conservative families are always in the business of making more money for themselves, but tout individual responsibility?  Why should children, like a one day old infant receive dividends when they haven’t paid any taxes or contributed to getting those resources out of the ground?  Instead, they are consuming resources such as education without contributing to them by paying taxes.

It doesn’t matter whether it is dividend cheques, Klein ‘bucks’ or natural disaster relief funds (fire-disaster-assistance).  When children are treated financially equal to adults, single adults will always be the losers even when they have worked more than forty years, not used EI or maternity/paternity benefits, paid education taxes when they have no children, etc. Families with children are receiving government transfers that singles don’t receive.

Financial fairness for all Canadians, regardless of marital or child status, will only be achieved when Market Basket Measure and net worth and assets are included in financial formulas.  The Canada Child Benefit is financially fairer than natural resource dividends (good thing for lone parents and poor families).  The Market Basket Measure cost of living scale counts an unattached individual as 1.0, and adds 0.4 for the second person (regardless of age), 0.4 for additional adults, and 0.3 for additional children.  The addition of an adult or child to household does not double or triple the cost of living, but adds smaller percentage to it.

It is time for politicians, married persons and families to stop the financial cherry picking and gaslighting.  Instead of spreading half truths it is time to develop fair financial formulas based on MBM and net worth irrespective of what political party person belongs to.

ANALYSIS OF REGRESSIVE TAX EXPENDITURES SUCH AS DIVIDEND CHEQUES

Critical common sense thinking highlights the fallacies of Conservative thinking which they, themselves, cannot see.

  • Conservatives don’t see Alaskan dividends as equivalent to basic income programs and they don’t see this as equivalent to socialist programs.  Doug Ford, since coming into power as Ontario Conservative Premier, has broken his promise by deleting the basic income pilot program authored by the outgoing Liberal Party. Alaskan dividends are as socialiastic as any basic income program.

Karl Widerquist and Michael W. Howard on Alaskan dividends (see blog article below) state:  ‘It provides a model of cash transfers to individuals without any stigma of dependence, fraud, waste, or failure—attributes often attached recipients of other government cash transfers.  The PFD funding source in natural resources rather than in taxes on individual income or wealth seems to exempt its recipients from any need to justify their use of the dividend, and to exempt the transfer as a whole from the ‘socialist’ label….’

  • Alaskan dividends are paid irrespective of any income from other sources and does not require the performance of work or the willingness to accept a job if offered. Unlike social assistance programs, it is not means-tested. Surely, this should rile up Conservatives who continually talk about personal responsibility and denigrate the poor as being lazy.  Conservatives never want to raise the minimum wage.
  • Conservatives just don’t get that Alaskan dividends are a regressive tax expenditure. Karl Widerquist and Michael W. Howard state:   ‘the PFD together with the elimination of the state individual income tax that was part of its founding has an overall regressive effect on income distribution.  To have a significant redistributive effect, the PFD would have to be recouped from wealthy individuals; in the absence of a progressive state income, consumption, or wealth tax, the PFD would have to be distributed on a sliding scale with larger dividends given to those with less income from other sources, rather than as a uniform flat payment….’
  • Alaskan dividends are paid out to individuals rather than households.  Payouts based on Market Basket Measure (MBM) or OECD Equivalence scales (equivalence-scales) would be financially fairer and would spread monies over a longer period of time.
  • What about those states or provinces that do not have natural resources? How do they handle progressive versus regressive tax expenditure?  The answer is through taxes and social justice programs.
  • It has been argued that it is preferable to have dividends from natural resources be distributed broadly rather than end up in the pockets of only a few corporate executives, wealthy shareholders, and political cronies. However, dividends distributed without marital status, number of children, income and net worth and assets consideration still means there will be an uneven distribution of dividends benefiting wealthy the most.

REPRODUCTION OF PREVIOUS BLOG POST

http://www.financialfairnessforsingles.ca/singles/2016/03/07/money-benefit-programs-financially-benefit-marriedcoupled-persons-and-families-more-than-singles/

MONEY BENEFIT PROGRAMS FINANCIALLY  BENEFIT MARRIED/COUPLED PERSONS AND FAMILIES MORE THAN SINGLES

Married/coupled persons and families often receive ‘free money’ benefits that financially benefit them much more than singles.

Two very good examples of these benefits are the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend and the ‘Ralph Klein $400 Bucks’ Program.

Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends

The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) program implemented in 1982 is an annual payment paid to individuals (children as well as adults) rather than households.  It is paid irrespective of any income from other sources and does not require the performance of work or the willingness to accept a job if offered. Unlike social assistance programs, it is not means-tested.

The book “Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend:  Examining Its Suitability as a Model”, edited by Karl Widerquist and Michael W. Howard states the following:

‘…..In 2008, when the PFD reached its highest level at $2,069, the individual  poverty threshold in the United States was approximately $11,000; for a family of four it was approximately $22,000.  Thus, at its highest level, the PFD would have provided less than 20 percent of the income necessary for an to individual to reach the poverty threshold, but almost 40 percent of the income necessary for a family of four to reach the poverty threshold……Thus, on basis of its level alone, the PFD is at best a partial basic income…

Finally, because of its flat and universal nature, the PFD on its own makes a very modest contribution to the reduction of inequality.  But the PFD together with the elimination of the state individual income tax that was part of its founding has an overall regressive effect on income distribution.  To have a significant redistributive effect, the PFD would have to be recouped from wealthy individuals; in the absence of a progressive state income, consumption, or wealth tax, the PFD would have to be distributed on a sliding scale with larger dividends given to those with less income from other sources, rather than as a uniform flat payment….

The PFD does serve as an excellent model for the conceptualization of natural resources as commonly owned—an important step along the path to acceptance of the idea of a basic income.  It provides a model of cash transfers to individuals without any stigma of dependence, fraud, waste, or failure—attributes often attached recipients of other government cash transfers. The PFD’s funding source in natural resources rather than in taxes on individual income or wealth seems to exempt it recipients from any need to justify their use of the dividend, and to exempt the transfer as a whole from the ‘socialist’ label….’

It has been argued that it is preferable to have oil profits distributed broadly rather than end up in the pockets of only a few corporate executives, wealthy shareholders, and political cronies.

Alaska is the only state that does not collect sales tax or levy an individual income tax on any type of of personal income, either earned or unearned.  Every Alaskan, children as well as adults, receives a payment each year from the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation. The USA does not have child benefits, although there is a child tax credit system for parents or guardians of children under 17 who meet certain requirements.  (The PFD is taxable by the Federal government).

Further review of information shows that in 2002, the poorest 20% of Alaskans relied on their dividend for 25% of their total income….some Alaskans depend on their dividend for up to a quarter of their yearly income, especially Native Alaskans, who make up 15% of the population. Those in poverty brackets and many of those living a subsistence lifestyle cannot afford to lose the dividend as a source of income.

However, review of articles on this program also states that the sense of entitlement has been established where it is very difficult to reduce state spending in this particular benefit at the expense of politicians losing their jobs, because state residents view these dividends as ‘rights’, not ‘privileges’.

One could argue that monies are being given to children who have not earned that privilege.  They have earned no money and have not paid any taxes.

If one looks at the PFD contributions over a twenty year period (lifetime of a family with children) in comparison to singles /individuals, the financial unfairness becomes apparent very quickly.  From 1996 to 2015,the benefits have ranged from a low of $846 to a high of $2,072 annually. For a family of four the twenty year total amounts to $113,156 and for a single person household the amount is $28,289.  A lot more can be done with $113,000 than $28,000.

Prosperity Bonus (‘Ralph Klein $400 Bucks’) Program

The Prosperity Bonus, also nicknamed Ralph (Premier of Alberta at that time) bucks, announced in September 2005, was the name given to a program designed to pay money back to residents of the province of Alberta as a result of a massive oil-fuelled provincial budget surplus.  This program gave $400 to every citizen of Albertan in the year 2005.

For a family of four, the benefit was $1,600, while a single/individual received $400.

ANALYSIS

‘Free Money’ Benefits allow families to achieve greater wealth than singles/individuals even though the children of these families have not earned any income or paid any taxes. Married/coupled persons without children also achieve greater financial benefits because of accumulated assets times two.

SOLUTIONS

To achieve greater financial equality between singles/individuals and married/coupled persons and families, the following suggestions are submitted:

  • Eliminate children from these programs until they reach the age majority since they have not made any contributions to the coffers in the form of salaries or taxes; rather, they are using resources such as education instead of contributing to them.
  • Top up benefits to singles at rate of 1.4 Market Basket Measure to that of married/coupled persons as it costs more for singles to live than married/coupled persons living as a single unit.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND LONE PARENT POVERTY MASKED BY GASLIGHTING

FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND LONE PARENT POVERTY MASKED BY GASLIGHTING

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This blog post is in response to a local newspaper opinion letter submitted by a reader who believes “singles only need small spaces and one tank of gas per month”.  This post was published in a local newspaper in shortened format as only so many words can be submitted for newspaper publication.

SHOCKING STATISTICS FOR PROVINCIAL INCOME SUPPORT PROGRAM RE INDIVIDUALS AND LONE PARENTS

Shocking statistics show that in one of the richest provinces (Alberta) there were in early 2014, 33,000 Alberta Income Support program (excluding AISH) recipients of all ages.  Alberta Income Support program in January, 2017, had 54,374 recipients and in January, 2018, 57,003 recipients.  Makeup of claimants in 2017 and 2018 include individuals 69%, lone-parent families 24%, couples with children 5%, and couples alone 3% (social-assistance-rates-continue-to-soar-despite-albertas-recovering-economy).  Totals do not say how many are turned away and do not include those who on verge of poverty.

GASLIGHTING MASKS INDIVIDUALS (SINGLES) AND LONE PARENT POVERTY

Reader comments on Alberta support program statistics gaslight by blaming NDP government and immigrants.  Local newspaper opinion letter submitted by a family gaslights as part of the family majority by using bias and financial illiteracy re singles finances to tell singles they only need small spaces and one tank of gas per month.   The letter implies families have to pay so much more than single retirees.  Sorry, singles and lone parents retirees are forced by married majority to pay more taxes because they can’t pension split and don’t have marital benefits privileging married and coupled persons with and without children.

So, apparently, while your children have their own bedrooms, it is okay for singles to live in spaces as small as 150 sq. ft. with only a microwave, bar fridge, bar sink, and no stove, bathtub, laundry or storage space.  And, apparently, as evidenced in Whistler, BC housing crisis it is okay for singles to earn a decent living, but have no place to live.  One person earning $2,800 after taxes has lived in a camper van for four years.  Styrofoam cutouts are wedged into the windows to keep out the cold. Or, in shared house a single bedroom was advertised for two female tenants at $780 per person.  Illegal short term rental greed has replaced housing designated for staff.

Singles have become invisible in DIY, real estate and housing TV programs.  Probably this is because singles are increasingly being charged more and more per square foot for their small spaces and are less able to afford home purchases.

One tank of gas per month doesn’t even deserve a response.

J-u-s-t  s-p-e-a-k  t-h-e  d-a-m-n  t-r-u-t-h!  Over 90% of Alberta Income Support recipients as minorities are singles and poor lone parent families!  Families gaslight by saying it is expensive to raise children covering only twenty to twenty five years.  Housing covering sixty to eighty years, especially rental, is biggest lifetime expense regardless of marital status or children.  House ownership is separating Canadians into ‘haves’ versus ‘have nots’.

MARKET BASKET MEASURE SHOWS IT COSTS INDIVIDUALS MORE TO LIVE THAN MARRIED OR COUPLED PERSONS WITHOUT CHILDREN

Conservatives, financially illiterate, gaslighters and married never talk about low income, equivalence-scales-in-relation-to-cost-of-living or cost of living scales like Market Basket Measure (MBM) (statcan).  Example:  if single person household has value of 1.0, lone parent, one child or two adult household has value of 1.4, one adult, two children 1.7 and two adult, two children 2.0.  It costs more for singles to live than couples without children.

Just one example of MBM not applied was the 2015 Federal Conservatives proposed targeted federal tax relief benefit for single senior to $20,360 ($1,697 per month) and senior couple $40,720 ($3,393 per month).  Using simple math, $1,000 rent and $400 food and white goods per month is barely covered for singles, but $1,000 rent and $800 food and white goods is amply covered for senior couples.   Application of MBM of 1.4 for couples would equal $28,504 ($2,375 per month), not $40,720.  Cost of living for couples is not twice that of singles. Trump has also given double tax relief for couples.

For 2018, net income limit is $75,910 for singles and $151,820 for couples. Applying MBM of 1.4 or $106,274 net income limit for couples ensures tax fairness.

Singles are told by married persons that they can always reduce costs by moving in with someone else.  However, this does not solve the problem of financial discrimination of singles being forced to pay more taxes.

MULTIPLE GOVERNMENT BENEFITS ARE GIVEN TO MARRIED OR COUPLED PERSONS WITH AND WITHOUT CHILDREN

Conservatives, who tout individual responsibility,  have implemented tax avoidance programs privileging upper middle class and wealthy married or coupled households with and without children (add link) like pension splitting, Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) with no limits, Old Age Security (OAS) clawback targeting only top two percent, and tax loophole programs. They financially and socially discriminate against minority singles and poor households who generally do not have the income to take full advantage of these programs.  Wealthy never pay their fair share of taxes. The Canada Child Benefit does not take into account net worth and assets, so it privileges wealthy parents who have low incomes, paid for houses, and high net worth and assets who then retire early. These same benefits have been perpetuated by the Liberal Party because of fear of losing votes if tax fairness changes are made.

Married and coupled persons do not realize the financial power and privileging that has been given to them when they are able to apply benefits on top of benefits times two persons (family-tax-credits).  For example, it is shameful when married and coupled persons can get OAS, which is supposed to be part of the Canadian poverty reduction pillar, then take that money and max out their TFSAs while paying less taxes because they can pension split and not pay taxes on TFSA proceeds (TFSAs do not need to be included in income).

The local newspaper opinion letter on same day as above opinion letter thankfully recognizes widowed person, now homeless ‘single’ (doesn’t say she is age 65), who is begging for money because she can’t get on small town local social support 600 person waiting list.

Singles, including poor lone parent households, are not stupid and deserve to feel righteously angered.  (After all, they also have math skills since they went to same schools as their married/coupled counterparts).  Singles know as minority populations they are not respected in financial formulas to the same level as married or coupled households with and without children.

CONCLUSION

Personal responsibility with social justice imbalance can lead to selfishness and greed.  Personal responsibility with balanced social justice and financial formulas changes “me” to “we”. Less gaslighting and more financial and public policy formulas based on MBM, and including net worth and assets, on all benefits and taxation without political bias would ensure financial fairness for all Canadians.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.) This is a WordPress blog designed by a hired individual.

HOUSING BIGGEST LIFETIME EXPENSE, NOT CHILDREN. IS HOUSING ALLOWANCE THE ANSWER?

HOUSING BIGGEST LIFETIME EXPENSE, NOT CHILDREN.   IS HOUSING ALLOWANCE THE ANSWER?

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

(This discussion on the housing crisis was presented to a Conservative Member of Parliament for future consideration on federal budget consultations.  This is Part 1 of the presentation.  Further suggestions for budget considerations will be presented in next blog post).

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

First, affordable housing, affordable housing and more affordable housing.  Both Conservatives and Liberals have failed to provide solutions for affordable housing (Conservatives during their 40 year reign in Alberta had almost zero affordable housing, raised taxes for the poor from 8% to 10% with flat tax implementation and catered to the wealthy while having no financial plan for managing revenues from oil wealth, and therefore, were unprepared for the oil price crash-Peter Lougheed excluded).

FACT CHECK:  FOREIGN HOME OWNERSHIP AND MULTIPLE HOME OWNERSHIP

Canadian residents spent $2.2 billion on Florida real estate in the 12 months ended June 2014, making them Florida’s No. 1 international buyer of residential real estate (canadian-snowbirds). About half of Canadian buyers spent less than US$200,000 on Florida purchase and just 16 per cent paid more than US$400,000.  About half of Canadians purchased a condominium/apartment and 38 per cent bought a single-family detached home.  More than half (53 per cent) of Canadian buyers intended to use their Florida home as a vacation property (resulting in empty houses during part of year), 14 percent planned to rent it out, 17 percent said they will do both. Forty per cent of Canadian buyers purchased real estate in Florida, 23 per cent in Arizona, and 10 per cent in California. Dollar value of Canadian sales for 2009 $8.9 billion, 2010 $17.1 billion, 2011 $13.0 billion, 2012 $15.9 billion, 2013 $11.8 billion, 2014 $13.8 billion (total $80.5 billion in six years).  Fifty percent of sales were in four states of Florida, California, Texas and Arizona.

Both foreign home ownership in Canada and Canadian foreign home ownership in USA equal $80 billion (Canadian foreign home ownership is $80 billion in six years).  There is so much hype about foreign home ownership in Canada, but Canadians are so hypocritical that they can’t look in their own backyard regarding snowbird foreign home ownership in USA, having their Canadian homes empty for six months of the year and spending their money in USA for six months.  What does this mean? – those Canadians who are not so fortunate to be snowbirds like the poor are paying more to support the taxes and GDP of Canada.

Toronto – 121,100 people in the GTA owned at least one other home in 2016. Question: how many Canadians own multiple properties in Canada and USA (snowbirds) while in any given year 200,000 to 300,000 Canadians face homelessness?

Information from the following article provides an interesting perspective on housing:  (Renter-Struggle-Ultimate-Housing-Problem)

‘More than four million Canadian households — about 30 percent of total households — rent.

Without federal help, low-income renters’ struggle to find homes worsens.  There is, however, a lot of federal money reserved for homeowners. Owners selling their principal residence are exempted from capital gains tax, a tax break worth about $5 billion a year.

The federal government offers this aid for owners despite the fact they earn more than renters. Owners make more than twice as much as renters do at $67,522 a year, according to the last long form census in 2006. Owners also have 37 times the median net worth of renters, thanks to their homes, at $513,000, according to 2012 CMHC numbers. This wealth gap widens over time.

“The great thing about ownership is that you have an asset for when you retire… Politicians use the line that if you work hard and buy a house you’re going to be OK,” said the University of Toronto’s Hulchanski. “But what about renters? The rest of you are just lazy? And you’re going to suffer now? You’re going to suffer when you get old?”  Hulchanski calls the neglect of renters and prioritization of homeowners discrimination.  “That’s no way to organize society.” ’

HOMEOWNERSHIP

  • New data from the 2011 NHS (National Housing Survey) showed that 69.0% of households in Canada, or 9.2 million of 13.3 million, owned their dwelling.
  • Four in five (82.4%) couple-family households owned their dwelling, while less than half (48.5%) of non-family households (singles) owned their dwelling. Just over half (55.6%) of lone-parent households owned their dwelling.

Dr. Ben Carson (appointee of Trump who was put in charge of housing but knows nothing about housing) made statement that many of the poor create their own poverty.  This statement is so false.  Politicians, private enterprise, corporations and society have purposefully or unknowingly pushed singles and poor families further towards poverty by making them pay more.  Whether it is purposeful or unknowing still makes the perpetrators guilty of complicity in benefiting middle class and wealthy more.

Housing is a prime example.  Singles and poor families pay more for housing while being shoved into smaller and smaller spaces.  Examples of inequality of Canadian values in housing are as follows:

  • One condo development in housing complex includes 1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio 552 sq. ft. micro-condo with starting price of $299,900 or $543 per sq. ft.  Three bed, 2.5 bath, 2 patios, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos in same complex are priced from $649,900 to $749,900 or $355 to $409 per sq. ft.  Ultra-deluxe model master bedroom suite with his and hers closets and spa bathroom covers entire third 600 sq. ft. floor.  Third bedroom is bigger than total square footage of $299,900 condo and sells for $150 to $200 less per square foot for two-thirds more space.
  • Vancouver 100-square-foot apartments equivalent to size of two jail cells rent for $570 a month (again most likely to be occupied by singles).  Renters in the 50 units share 11 bathrooms and laundry facilities over the four floors (and no kitchens?).

Where is the critical thinking of ripple effects where owners (most likely to be singles) of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest, insurance and real estate fees on less house and likely less take home pay for their biggest lifetime expense?

Which of those who spout family values as a personal issue believes females should go traipsing outside of their apartments to use bathroom in middle of the night? Who believes it is humane to stick anyone into a 100 square foot or smaller units (90 square foot units in Vancouver) plus charge excessive rents?

Who makes the decisions behind loan-shark or pay day loan type pricing where financial targeting of the most vulnerable occurs?  It is private enterprise, land developers,  cities (government), and greedy ‘what the market can bear’ persons that make these decisions.  Where does the bafflegab of neighbor helping neighbor, personal discipline, caring, responsibility and respect fit into these decisions?

HOUSING IS BIGGEST LIFETIME EXPENSE, NOT CHILDREN

Housing is a necessity regardless of whether or not households have children.  If lifetime length of paying for housing is from 20 to 80-90 years of age, then housing is a basic necessity spanning over sixty to seventy years.  Look at any Living Wage study, and it will show that as number of persons decrease per household, the greater the proportion of income will be spent on housing, yet most government benefit programs target only families with children or senior married or coupled households, thus leaving single person and poor households out of financial formulas.

If a household pays $1000 rent per month, then housing may cost $720,000 over a lifetime with nothing to show for it financially while supporting greedy real estate owners who pass their greed unto renters (and often ignoring renter psychological impact of excessive internal and external noise, being kicked out by landlord under guise of needing to renovate so prices can be raised, and dingy secondary suites, etc.). That is three quarters of a million dollars ‘lost’ to the  renter over a lifetime!

Homeowners after twenty five years and $1400 mortgage per month will likely have a $300,000 paid for house ($15,000 down payment and 3.70 interest rate for 3 years amortized at 25 years) which may or not increase in value as part of their assets and wealth financial portfolio (minus maintenance and house taxes)  They have the ability to move up or down in housing as dictated by their lifestyles changes.

Raising children covers only twenty to twenty five of those years, but both the Conservatives and Liberals have brought in child care benefits that benefit only households with children and in some cases child care benefits even pay entire mortgage and rental housing for these households.  Pension splitting government benefits apply only to senior married or coupled households.

Rent controls, rental vouchers don’t work and the greed of “what the market can bear” will not control the outrageous upswing of housing prices.  Charity is not the answer as charity masks the problem, but doesn’t solve it.

HOUSING ALLOWANCE

The Liberal proposal for a housing allowance is a step in right direction.  Instead of Liberals and Conservatives continuing their infighting and vote getting tactics, how about doing right thing and making housing allowance a permanent solution throughout entire lifetime, just like healthcare?  How about involving all political parties in defining a solution, now wouldn’t that be a novel idea? Housing allowance should be based on not just income, but also assets and wealth. Those who own their homes outright or more than one home should get zero assistance for housing allowance.  Housing is a human right.

One suggested housing allowance (renting or mortgage) formula based on of equivalence scales or LIM (Low Income Measure) (equivalence-scales) could include starting point of $500 (based on 1.0 LIM value) per month for one adult person household, $700 (1.4 LIM value) for two adult persons households or one adult, one child households and $1,000 (2.0 LIM value) for two adult, two children household. Amounts would be based on level of income AND assets and wealth). Households who have fully paid for ownership in housing, own more than one home and/or have ample wealth would get zero dollars for housing allowance.

CONCLUSION

Housing is a basic human right and is just one element of Maslow’s Hierarchy of need.  The inaction by politicians, governments, private enterprise and society on housing, especially in the so called free democratic world, is an egregious moral and ethical affront to the most vulnerable of our society.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

CARBON TAX REBATES DONE RIGHT WAY BY NDP FOR FINANCIAL FAIRNESS OF SINGLES

CARBON TAX REBATES DONE RIGHT WAY BY NDP FOR FINANCIAL FAIRNESS OF SINGLES

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

(This opinion letter was published in a local newspaper with some modifications as only a limited amount of words are allowed in opinion letters for newspapers.)

(six-reasons-why-married-coupled-persons-are-able-to-achieve-more-financial-power-wealth)

Whether the carbon tax is right or wrong is in the eye of the beholder.  However, one thing that is being done right is the NDP carbon tax rebate program.  Finally, there is a program which follows semblance of equivalence scales for cost of living.

The NDP 2017 carbon tax rebates will be $200 for one adult household up to net income of $47,500, $300 for two adults up to net income $95,000, $230 for one adult with one child up to net income $47,500, and $360 for two adults with two children up to net income $95,000.

Equivalence (cost-of-living) scales like OECD and square root scales show cost of living is spread out over number of persons in family units, not times number of persons in family units.  Needs for housing space, electricity, etc. will not be three times as high for a household with three members than for a single person. With the help of equivalence scales each household type in the population is assigned a value in proportion to its needs.  Cost of living for one adult household is more expensive than for two adult household.  The StatsCan square root equivalence scale shows that if single adult is equivalent to 1.0, the scale for one adult with one child is 1.4, two adults 1.41, two adults with one child 1.73, two adults with two children 2.0 and two adults with three children 2.24 (full table can be found at statcan).

There never will be a perfect way of doling out dollars including rebate dollars since it can be shown that the more income family units make, the more they will usually spend. In this case, the income level is generously based on net income, not gross income. Winners and losers show net income of $95,000 for two adult family unit is quite generous and are the winners. The $230 rebate for adult with one child with net income up to $47,500 could be considered the losers.  This same logic can also be applied to the rebate dollar amounts.

Finally, there is a political party that has attempted to provide a financial program that follows equivalence scales for family units instead of giving more benefits to married or coupled families with children. Such attempts mean more financial fairness for singles never married, no children without giving unequal and multiple boutique tax credits and other benefits to married or coupled family units with and without children.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR VULNERABLE POPULATIONS, SINGLES AND THE POOR

AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR VULNERABLE POPULATIONS, SINGLES AND THE POOR

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

The following discussion (about 15 pages in length) on affordable housing was submitted in response to a request for input to a national survey on affordable housing. The link for ‘Let’s Talk Housing’ survey is included at the end of this post.

It appears that some of points from this discussion were included in the final results of the survey such as

  • Including singles in definition of family by using specific wording of “individuals and families” not just “families”
  • Including affordable housing as a human rights issue
  • Including quality of life such as laundry facilities.

Issues that appear to not having been addressed are single seniors having own bedroom and bathroom that doesn’t cost more for them than for married or coupled seniors.

There still seems to be a mentality for seniors to age in place even with expensive houses that they can’t afford (tax credits on home renovations and assistance in paying house taxes).  Those with considerable net worth and assets should be excluded from housing subsidies of any kind.

NATIONAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING STRATEGY

TO: National Housing Strategy Team, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp., 700 Montreal Road, Ottawa, ON K1A 0P7

To Whom It May Concern:

First of all, thank you for the opportunity to respond to your housing strategy.  In this response, two categories that have been identified will be addressed – Affordable Housing and Vulnerable populations.

CATEGORY – AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Blog “financial fairness for singles.ca” talks about affordable housing.  One of the reasons for unaffordable housing is what author calls UPSIDE DOWN HOUSING. Excerpt from blog is as follows:

UPSIDE DOWN HOUSING

Why does it seem more difficult for individuals/singles and low income persons to purchase affordable housing?  For possible reasons why, consider the following scenarios.

One example, condos presently being developed in Calgary by a developer in one housing complex includes 1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio micro-condos of 552 sq. ft. with starting price of $299,900.  Two patio, 2 bed, 2 full bath, 2 story 1232 sq. ft. condos were already sold out so price not available.  Then there are 2 patio, 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos priced from $649,900 to $749,900.  Apparently, ultra-deluxe model has master bedroom suite covering entire third 600 sq. ft. floor.  The third floor bedroom is bigger than total square footage of $299,900 condo.  When price per square foot is calculated, micro-condo is selling for $543 per sq. ft. while three bed condos are selling from $355 to $409 per sq. ft.

So who is more likely to buy micro-condos?  Possibly low income couples, single parent with one child, or environmentally conscious, and probably an individual/single person.  Who gets to pay $150 to $200 more per square foot for two-thirds less space?  Ripple effects are owners of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and less take home pay for biggest lifetime expense.  When it is sold, will seller recoup buying price?

While singles are living in their small spaces (average size of new studio, one bed and one bed/den new condo combined being built in Toronto is 697 sq. feet), majority of Canadian married/coupled people families are living in average 1950 sq. foot houses (2010) with large gourmet kitchens, multiple bathrooms, bedrooms for each child and guests, basement, garage, yard, and nice patio with barbecue, etc.

To further magnify the issue, lottery in major northern Alberta city has first grand lottery prize of $2,092,000 for 6,490 sq. ft. house ($322 per sq. ft.), second grand prize of $1,636,000 for 5,103 sq. ft. house ($321 per sq. ft.), and third grand prize of $1,558,000 for 5,097 sq. ft. house ($306 per sq. ft.).  First house has elevator, games/theatre area, kid’s lounge, gym, and music room. Second house has hockey arena with bleacher seating, lounge and bar.  Third house has spa, gym, yoga studio, juice bar and media room.  The wealthy get all the extras and pay only $306 per square foot.  This is upside down housing.  Need anything more be said about the wealthy? They usually get more while paying less and acquiring choicest spots.  (Another example is penthouse suites that sell for proportionately less dollars per square foot than a small condo unit on lower floors of a building).

Average square footage of Canadian house is 1950 sq. ft. (2010) so how can a developer socially, morally and ethically justify charging $150 to $200 more per square foot for two-thirds less space?  “CREB now”, Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, 2015, page A5, talks about Calgary developer selling 440 sq. ft. condos in north inner city tower for $149,000 ($339 per sq. ft.) in 2012 and 440 sq. ft. condos in south inner city tower for $219,000 ($498 per sq. ft.) in 2015.  Two and three hundred sq. ft. condos are now being sold in Vancouver and Toronto for around $250,000 ($1250 and $833 per sq. ft. respectively).  In many cases salaries for low income and singles has not risen to same level, nor has Canadian housing prices for the middle class and rich ($400,000 and up).

How is any of this different than loan-sharking or pay day loans where targeting of the most vulnerable occurs?  Does no one see a pattern here where the wealthy pay $300 to $400 per square foot, but singles and poor families are forced to live in smaller spaces while paying more per square foot for them?

Further financial unfairness occurs when individual/single homeowners without children are forced to pay education taxes, but parents pay only fixed rate based on value of their home regardless of number of children.  For ‘nineteen kids and counting’ it is possible parents are only paying a few cents a day for their children’s education.  Some married/partnered seniors with kids are looking to have education tax payments eliminated from their house taxes.  For families with children, logic implies parents should pay education tax throughout their entire lifetimes, or individuals/singles without kids should not have to pay education tax ever.  However, families don’t seem to be able to apply financial logic of their own finances equally to the financial realities of their single children.  And, many families do not want to pay school fees.

There are many more examples of financial unfairness, but just the above few show how financial world for low-income families and individuals/singles has been completely flipped upside down and topsy-turvy.  Have governments, society, and our publicly and privately funded education systems failed us so miserably and family/corporate greed taken over with critical thinking, social/ethical responsible thinking sinking to all-time lows?  Since when is it okay under present financial system for families to accumulate wealth and huge inheritances while their low income and single children are not able to support themselves on a day to day basis?

Young individuals/singles not yet married are facing huge financial hurdles because of low incomes, less full time jobs, enormous education debt, and out of control housing costs.  Families (parents), governments, society, corporations, businesses to date have failed to provide support and responsibility that is needed to ensure all Canadian citizens are able to financially take care of themselves without financial parental aid, inheritances of parents and without bias of gender, race or marital status.

In this so called civilized, enlightened country of ours, it appears that citizens of value are only upper middle-income families and the wealthy while individuals/singles with and without children are being annihilated from financial, political, and everyday living scenes (MADE INVISIBLE). If families have such high family values, shouldn’t family values and moral social values take precedence instead of being trumped by almighty dollar greed and philosophy of charging what the market can bear and more?

Low income families, individuals/singles and young adults not yet married who can apply simple math and critical thinking skills are in financial despair and angst knowing that they, as the most vulnerable citizens of this country, have been targeted and pawned to pay more for housing than middle class families and the wealthy.  It is the duty of politicians elected by the people, for the people to represent all Canadian citizens, not just vote getting middle class families.

OUTSIDE THE BOX SOLUTIONS FOR PRICING OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Solution 1 – for a housing complex as identified in the above outrageous pricing example, prices should be set where the base price of the unit with the smallest square footage cannot be more than the base price of the unit with largest square footage within the complex. Any changes and upgrades by the buyer would be added to the base price. (In the above example the base price of the 552 square foot condo could only be $355 per square foot to match the cheapest price of the biggest per square foot unit in the complex).  Should there be laws and fines applied for these outrageous prices?

Solution 2 – Charges for house taxes, education taxes, and real estate fees should be balanced between square footage and price of the housing unit?  Where housing prices follow a fair pricing formula as shown in Solution 1, this could provide financial fairness where fees are based on largest unit and become proportionately less on smaller units.

Solution 3– charge a fee such as a carbon tax fee for units greater than a certain number of square feet. For example, allow a maximum size of 2500 square ft. for a housing unit (assumption is that there is no need for excessive amounts of square footage in housing). For anything greater than 2500 square feet, charge an extra fee to the buyer with an incremental increase in the fee for every additional 500 square feet of space. (The wealthy have been paying less and getting more square footage while using non-renewable resources plus water at an alarming rate, i.e. 5000 square foot log cabin using twelve logging trucks filled with harvested logs and a showhome that has seventeen sinks). The monies collected from these fees could be used to build more affordable housing.

As stated in a recent real estate article, Watermark, a deluxe complex in Calgary is selling an ‘inspired’ (so stated in article) 8,644 sq. ft. estate home and its guest house for $3.45 million or $399 per square foot which is less per square feet than 600 square foot condo mentioned above. Article goes on to say that beyond homes, Watermark garners interest with both natural and manmade beauty. It has 17 cascading ponds and more than five kilometers of interconnected walking and bike trails. Then there’s the central plaza with its 1,000 sq. ft. pavilion, kitchen, barbecues, a sports field and NBA-sized basketball court. One family’s daughter is looking forward to booking the plaza and using the outdoor kitchen for her birthday party. The family goes on to state that space between homes and low density was also very important so they weren’t looking into someone’s back yard. This same complex has a show home with 17 sinks.

Another real estate article talks about another family with three children moving from 1900 sq. ft. house to a 2,837 sq. ft. house with price starting from $900,000s. They are moving because they need more room for the kids as they grow. Their new house will provide 567 sq. ft. per person at a starting price of approximately $317 per sq. ft. Yet again other articles state that owners are happy they don’t have condos in their backyard (NIMBYism) and their children can experience nature from their own bedrooms.

Further advice usually given by married people states singles can live with someone else if they can’t afford housing when they are already living in studio, one bedroom apartments, and basement suites. Senior singles who have lived productive lives while contributing to their country want and deserve their own privacy and bathroom. Many senior assisted living dwellings have in recent years built more spaces for singles who with one income pay more for that space than married/coupled persons. Just how long should shared arrangements go on for (entire lives?) instead of correcting underlying financial issues?

Following examples show dignity and respect for singles (and low income families). Attainable Housing http://www.attainyourhome.com/, Calgary, allows maximum household income of $90,000 for single and dual/parent families with dependent children living in the home and maximum household income of $80,000 for singles and couples without dependent children living in the home. Living Wage for Guelph and Wellington livingwagecanada allows singles dignity of one bedroom apartment and a living wage income that is 44% of a family of 4 income and 62% of a family of two (parent and child).

While singles are living in their small spaces (average size of new studio, one bed and one bed/den new condo combined being built in Toronto is 697 sq. feet), majority of Canadian married/coupled people and families are living in average 1950 sq. foot houses (2010) with large gourmet kitchens, multiple bathrooms, bedrooms for each child and guests, basement, garage, yard, and nice patio with barbecue, etc.

Above mentioned blog has also tried to attach lost dollars that singles face directly every date in relation to married and coupled family units with and without children.  The following lost dollar value is in relationship to housing.

LOST DOLLARS VALUE LIST

For a 700 square foot condo where price is $50 more per square foot than lowest price of largest condo in complex, it can be assumed that the purchaser will be paying $35,000 more than purchaser’s base price of largest condo, if the price per square foot is $100 more per square foot then purchaser will be paying be paying $70,000 more, if the price per square foot is $150 more per square foot then purchaser will be paying $105,000 more and so on. The amount of house and education taxes, real estate fees and mortgage interest will also incrementally increase.

Our Lost Dollar Value List in blog (lost-dollar-value) –  when lost dollar value for real estate is added to the list, $50 was  used as the example not including gestimate loss for taxes and real estate fees, interest charges based on $50.00 per sq. ft.

APPROPRIATE HOUSING DEFINITION

Singles are often told they can always go ‘live with someone’ if they have problems with affordable housing.  The CMHC should be aware of the following definition of appropriate housing.  Housing dignity and respect as well as quality of life according to this definition specifies that singles deserve a bedroom of their own.  (One bedroom actually meaning one bedroom, not just a murphy bed in a 200 square foot condo, shows dignity and respect for singles).  It is the belief of this author that appropriate housing for a senior single means senior singles deserve a bedroom and a bathroom of their own.  After working for forty years for their country without the marital manna benefits given to married or coupled family units, senior singles deserve at least this much.

Appropriate Housing definition is stated as follows – Under the Social Housing Accommodation Regulation (alberta page 11), such housing is considered overcrowded if more than two people must share a bedroom, with at least one individual in each of the other bedrooms, and if an individual over 18 “must share a bedroom with another member of the household,” or someone over the age of five has to share a bedroom with “an individual of the opposite sex.”  (Spouses or partners sharing a bedroom don’t count)…..”Affordable housing is intended to be appropriate housing-appropriate to needs of families.   If children age in place or additional children are welcomed into a family, they can transfer within the system…subject to availability.”  

Blog “financialfairnessforsingles.ca”also addresses psychological impact where appropriate.  The following discusses the psychological impact for housing.

PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT

There seems to be very little understanding of the psychological impact that decision makers and policy makers have on singles regarding housing.

Many families live in houses where their young children have separate bedrooms, and likewise, there is a trend towards ‘man caves’ and ‘she sheds’ so family members can have ‘alone’ time, but when children become single adults, singles are consistently told that they can live with someone if they have financial problems with housing while paying more.

And, of course, singles never have claustrophobia, so it is okay to stick them in small spaces for which they have to pay more. And singles never have problems with noise, so it is okay for them to live in small units in less desirable areas close to airports and railway tracks, etc. (As one single person moving from one unit to another stated in a real estate article “I was very impressed with the pricing and the fact that they’re doing concrete floors and walls “. Concrete is said to restrict noise. “I work on Saturday mornings and a lot of people like to stay up a little later on Friday and Saturday nights”. With thinner walls, he adds, it is easier to hear “people in the hallways coming and going. It is not the end of the end of the world, by any means, but I am looking forward to something quieter above and below”. But for this person, the decision was less about sound and more about getting something larger, with better specifications and closer to work-moving from 615 sq. ft. two bedroom condo to 715 sq. ft. two bedroom condo. “The bedrooms are a little bit bigger with an ensuite. I really liked that and I liked the fact that it has a washer and dryer so I don’t have to go to the laundromat.”

Singles deserve same standard of living as married/coupled persons, i.e. having washer and dryer in their own home instead of having to go down a dark hall or to basement in complex to do laundry or paying outrageous prices per load at a laundromat.

When reading or listening to articles on housing for families, families will always talk about how important their housing is for them in regards to creating memories for their children, entertaining and maintaining close ties to friends and families, but apparently adult singles don’t have friends and families or dreams, so it is okay for them to live in micro condos, some as small as 200 square feet, where it is pretty much impossible to entertain or have friends and families stay with them except maybe by having a bunk bed chained from the ceiling.

SOLUTION

Singles and low income persons need to become more aware of financial unfairness by taking pricing down to the lowest common denominator, i.e. price per square foot and speak out about the financial atrocities being directed towards them. They need to start questioning why they are being targeted to pay more while getting less.  (While it is recognized that it is expensive to raise children, adult to adult it is also unfair to make one segment of the population like singles and the disadvantaged pay more than another segment).

By your own definition in ‘Let’s Talk Housing”, you state  -” Zoning by-laws that encourage affordable, mixed-income and mixed-tenure communities are one way to ensure the inclusion of all Canadians in a variety of social, economic and cultural opportunities”.  So how about putting ‘money where your mouth is’ and eliminating financial housing discrimination for singles and the poor that is upside-down and by truly making the wealthy pay their fair share?

 CATEGORY- VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

SINGLES/INDIVIDUALS ARE RARELY  INCLUDED IN FINANCIAL DISCUSSIONS AND FORMULAS

By your own definition in ‘Let’s Talk Housing”, you state vulnerable populations include seniors, persons with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, newcomers, homeless, lone parent families, indigenous households, youth, veterans.

Why are singles never included today in financial discussions and formulas?  Families are only mentioned.  What this means is that singles are discriminated against by virtue of exclusion and invisibility.  As stated by your definition in sentence above, singles are not included except if they fall into categories of disabilities, homeless, or youth.  Into which of these populations do singles between the ages of 25 and 65 fall?  Your own definition of vulnerable populations does not include them.

SINGLES ARE INAPPROPRIATELY CLASSIFIED

Singles are inappropriately classified when the ‘catch-all’ word ‘singles’ is used to include single parents, widowers, ever singles (never married, no kids), early in life divorced and late in life divorced singles all in one word.  Canada Revenue Agency has clear definitions for singles and widowed persons.  Yet, financial planners, government agencies, businesses often consider widowed people to be singles when they are not.   Single parents do get some government transfer benefits, which is as it should be.  Widowed persons are given benefits, while ever singes are rarely given any benefits except in abject poverty.  Widowed persons are more likely to own their own homes and have more net worth than ever singles.  Early in life divorced persons are less likely to be able to accumulate net worth and wealth than late in life divorced persons.

Blog article “False assumptions – ‘Four Ways Senior Singles Lose Out’ – December 2, 2015” is  a perfect example of how a financial analyst has inappropriately talked about singles in his article when he is actually talking about widowed persons.  Widowed persons are often perceived to have more social value  simply because they were married and have produced children in comparison never married singles and early in life divorced singles without and without children.  This discrimination often leads to never married and early divorced in life singles being left out of financial decisions because they have been made to be invisible.

FINANCIAL ILLITERACY AND IRRESPONSIBLE CONCLUSIONS OF DECISION MAKERS IN HOUSING SOLUTION

Who Really Owns Homes

In your information, you say 69% of Canadians own their own homes, but what you don’t say is the majority of home ownership is by married or coupled family units.  The sad reality is that singles are less likely to own their own homes because they simply can’t afford it.  You say that seniors are a part of the vulnerable population.  In reality, senior singles (not widowed persons and married or coupled persons) are more likely to be part of the vulnerable population.

According to Statistics Canada 2011 articles “Living Arrangements of Seniors” and “Homeownership and Shelter Costs in Canada” (12.statcan) and (12.statcan.gc) ‘approximately 56.4 per cent of the senior population (5 million total seniors in 2011) live as part of a couple and about 24.6 per cent of the senior population live alone (excludes those living with someone else, in senior citizen facilities and collective housing).

Approximately 69 per cent of Canadians own their own home.  About  four out of five (82.4%) married/coupled people own their own home, while less than half (48.5%) of non-family households (singles) own their dwellings.  Just over half (55.6%) of lone-parent households own their dwelling. “  (It stands to reason that more senior married/coupled and widowed persons will own their own homes, while senior singles–‘ever’ single and early divorced–are more likely to have to rent placing them in greater income inequality and a lower standard of living and quality of life).  Regardless of housing tenure, the proportion of non-family households and lone-parent households that paid 30% or more of total income towards shelter costs was about twice the proportion of the couple-family households’.

We are going to repeat this statement again:  Regardless of housing tenure, the proportion of non-family households and lone-parent households that paid 30% or more of total income towards shelter costs was about twice the proportion of the couple-family households’.   This very statement reinforces the fact that singles need to be included in the definition of vulnerable populations.

Singles are constantly told to ‘go live with someone’ when they have difficulties paying for housing; meanwhile married/coupled and widowed persons may be living in their big houses (enjoying the same lifestyle they had before pre-retirement) and seeking help with paying their taxes while refusing to move to a less expensive dwelling when they have financial difficulties.

Seniors who own their homes want to remain in their homes as long as possible versus renters

You state in your information that seniors want to remain in their homes as long as possible.  You also state renters, on the other hand, can benefit from lower monthly costs and more flexibility when they want to move.

Several comments – there are many seniors who have huge net worth in their homes, can’t afford to live in them, and yet want to remain in them.  They have such a sense of entitlement that they are seeking help with paying house taxes, and now politicians are looking to give them financial help with upgrading their homes.  The above statements show no regard for the psychological impact of renting for singles and the poor.  Just how long do you think renters should stay in one place – ten, twenty, thirty years- for example, as seniors without renovations and upgrades taking place in their rental units?  The likely answer that you and everyone else will give to this is that they can always move.  Moving in psychological impact is stressful, plus moving is expensive (your statement regarding ‘flexibility to move for renters’ is a negative, not a positive).

Families don’t take their own advice which they dish out to singles.  Senior couples or widowed don’t want to give up their big houses, but ask for reduced house taxes and senior education property tax assistance programs (Calgary Herald, “Not Now” letter to the editor, August 26, 2015).  If you can’t pay your house taxes, how about moving to smaller place or go live with someone (tit for tat)?  If families with kids don’t pay education property taxes as seniors, then homeowners who have never had kids should not have to pay education taxes throughout their entire lives.

Financial analysts and decision makers have in their end points created such a sense of entitlement and greed that many believe home equity should not be treated as an asset and, even more ludicrous, as a retirement asset.

Blog post ‘Continued Financial Illiteracy and Creation of Financial Silos Benefitting Married/Coupled Persons Equals Financial Discrimination of Senior Singles-Part 2 of 2’ (part-2-of-2) is author’s response to one such article:  February, 2016 the Broadbent Institute in Canada and Richard Shillington of Tristat Resources published the report:  “An Analysis of the Economic Circumstances of Canadian Seniors” (broadbentinstitute)

Quote from report :  ‘ …..Many of those who argue that there is no looming pension crisis have included home equity as a liquid asset.  This analysis has not treated home equity as a retirement asset because the replacement rate analysis has as its objective an income that allows one to enjoy a lifestyle comparable to that which existed pre-retirement.  We do not include home equity here because we accept that the pre-retirement lifestyle for many middle- and moderate-income Canadians include continued homeownership”, (Page 19)’.

(blog author’s response to this statement) ‘It is ludicrous that this report does not treat home equity as a retirement asset.  Those who have to rent are at a much greater financial disadvantage than those who own their own home’.

Singles with mortgage or rent face serious financial obstacles regardless of what age they are.  Young are facing outrageous housing and mortgage costs.  Senior singles who have to rent face serious quality of life issues when their rent is beyond what  they can afford.  Also, financial analysts state that most singles cannot have a mortgage and save at the same time, they only can do one or the other.

What some politicians’  and other responses have been so far

Blog author has been blogging about financial discrimination of singles for almost a year and has been attempting to contact government and politicians regarding this issue.  Here are a couple of absurd responses received so far (none have been positive).

One politician said that if singles are having problems with affordable housing, they can seek assistance.   Community Housing in Alberta is a subsidized rental program, but to qualify assets and belongings cannot exceed $7,000.  Really, $7,000? (Assets in pension funds, registered retirement savings plans, or registered retirement income funds are not included in calculation of assets.  So this means, subsidized housing can be given to those with considerable assets).   Another answer stated that maybe charitable and social agencies need to include singles in assistance that is already provided to low income persons and single parent families.  Really?  This is another slap in face answer that does nothing to solve the affordability housing problem for singles.

Singles continually get told by married or coupled persons that singles can go live with someone if they have problems with being able to afford housing.  At a session on affordable and inclusive housing, blog author was told as much by one gentleman from around Springbank (one of most expensive areas to live in Canada) who was so proud that he was able to winter every year in Arizona.

When reading or listening to articles on housing for families, families will always talk about how important their housing is for them in regards to entertaining and maintaining close ties to friends and families.  They talk about about how their ‘hearts are eternally and inexplicably changed’ when bearing their children, but same hearts appear to become ‘hearts of stone’ when these same children become adult singles, low income or no income persons and families.

It often appears that desired results have been achieved for what married/coupled persons and families think are appropriate for singles.  Singles can now sleep in spaces that are two hundred square feet in size.  It seems these same people no longer consider singles to be their children or part of the family.  Instead, the state of business has overtaken the value of family to the point of unadulterated greed.

Singles deserve better in affordable housing solutions.  When they talk to government, decision makers and families about lack of affordable housing, they are met with anger, shunning and deaf ears.  They are given the response that it is ‘what the market can bear’.

Every adult with marital status of being single deserves a living wage and a dignified place to live that is equal to adults in families.  Every adult with marital status of being single deserves to be included in financial formulas that are equal in benefits to adults in families.  Every adult with marital status of being single children of families deserves to treated with same financial dignity and respect as married/coupled children in same family.

Single employables (singles and single parents) deserve the same financial dignity and respect as married/coupled persons with and without children.  Singles and single parents (white, aboriginal and of immigrant status) deserve to be included in financial formulas at the same level as married or coupled persons with and without children.

Financial discrimination of singles is accepted in mainstream and is, indeed, celebrated.  Article like “It Pays To Be Married” (marrying-for-money-pays-off) implies married/coupled persons and families are more financially responsible.  From “Ten Events in Personal Financial Decathlon Success” (financialpost), the Family Status step says: ‘From a financial perspective, best scenario is a marriage for life.  It provide stability for planning, full opportunities for tax planning and income splitting and ideally for sharing responsibilities that can enhance each other’s goals and careers.  One or two divorces can cause significant financial damage.  Being single also minimizes some of the tax and pension advantages that couples benefit from’.  How nice!

CONCLUSION

  1.  It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families don’t recognize singles and continue to violate one of the basic principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need, that is shelter.
  2. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families don’t recognize singles and continue to violate what has been deemed by international organizations to be a violation of the Human Rights of all Canadian Citizens, that is housing.

(From Wikipedia) “The right to housing is recognised in a number of international human rights instruments. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living. It states that:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) also guarantees the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living.

In international human rights law the right to housing is regarded as a freestanding right. This was clarified in the 1991 General Comment no 4 on Adequate Housing by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The general comment provides an authoritative interpretation of the right to housing in legal terms under international law.”

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

  1. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families continue to be uneducated (illiterate)and completely unaware of what it costs singles to live in comparison to families in relation to equivalence scales.  
  2. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families discriminate based on marital status.  Discrimination based on marital status is a also a violation of human and civil rights.
  3. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families continue to exclude singles from financial formulas and housing solutions.  Singles need to be included in all financial formulas.
  4. Equivalence scales (equivalence-scales-in-relation-to-cost-of-living) – if there anything that is can be so eye-opening in describing how financially disadvantaged singles are in comparison to families for cost of living, it is equivalence scales.  Member of National Housing Survey need to educate themselves in this regard.
  5. Real estate fees have reached an outrageous level of unaffordability.  These fees, in addition to outrageous housing prices, need to be addressed.

In present political system, singles are losing financial ground.   Words ‘individuals’ or  ‘singles’ rarely come to the financial lips of politicians, families or media.   What is needed is to bring financial issues of singles to same financial table as families and to make positive changes for both parties.  Singles who have worked for forty years, never used EI and helped to support families through wedding and baby gifts, education taxes and other taxes so that families can have maternity and parental benefits, child benefits, widow and survivor benefits, etc. deserve same financial respect as families.  Singles never get any thanks and are never recognized for their contributions.  The only benefits singles ever receive is if they are in abject poverty.  Singles are not asking for more financial benefits than families, but equivalency to family benefits as applicable as shown in equivalence scales.  They deserve this as citizens of this country.

Quite frankly, with all the rhetoric, surveys, solutions and bafflegab, this author is very pessimistic and believes CMHC and others involved in this project are going to fail, and will fail miserably.  Unaffordable housing will not be resolved UNLESS THE MINIMUM WAGE IS RAISED TO A LIVING WAGE AND TO A LIVING WAGE THAT IS INDEXED TO INFLATION.  Success will only be achieved if innovative solutions AND a living wage occur simultaneously.   Everything that occurred in the last decade by government, businesses, and families in regards to financial solutions has benefitted only the upper middle class families, not singles and the poor.  (Blog post on CPP enhancements, August 31, 2016 further supports how lack of minimum wage and schizophrenic programs further discriminate against singles and the poor-CPP a federal program while minimum wage is a provincial program).

List of some of the blog posts regarding housing and financial discrimination of singles and the poor:

  1. False assumptions – ‘Four Ways Senior Singles Lose Out’  (false-assumptions)- December 2, 2015 -describes how one financial analyst shows singles lose out on married or coupled family unit tax advantages, lose out on tax and pension systems tilted to benefit couples, lose out on benefits, face higher tax bill, and face OAS recovery tax.  The sad fact is that this financial analyst was talking about widowed persons, not ever singles.
  2. Senior Singles pay more – Parts 1 to 4 – December 5 (senior-singles), Dec. 9 (part-2), Dec. 12 (part-3), and Dec. 22, 2015 (part-4), – show the many ways that senior singles pay more and get less over their married or coupled family unit counterparts.
  3. To rent or own affordable housing – that is the question January 10, 2016 (to-rent-or-own-affordable-housing)
  4. Continued Financial illiteracy of financial gurus equals financial discrimination of singles – Part 2  February 28, 2016 (financial-illiteracy) – blog author’s perspective on yet another financial analyst (Broadbent Institute) providing incomplete facts about what it costs singles to live, inappropriate classification of singles, and not including home equity as a retirement asset.
  5. Incomplete reporting of news and media articles promote financial inequality of singles to married/coupled persons March 24, 2016 (financial-inequality-of-singles-to-marriedcoupled-persons– inability to say the word ‘single’ or ‘individual’ promotes financial discrimination of singles.
  6. Lost dollar value list to date – April 10, 2016 lost-dollar-value-list) (attached table – please see article for full description of items) lost dollar value table
  7. Singles deserve affordable housing and financial fairness for singles April 13, 2016 (singles-deserve-affordable-housing)– talks about a San Francisco single person who created a private sleeping space in the living room of an apartment he shares with other roommates (one bedroom apartments rent for $3,670 a month).  He sleeps in a wooden box (he calls it a ‘pod’) that is eight feet long,  four and a half feet tall and probably about five or six feet wide)
  8. Rental or affordable housing – misconceptions about psychological impact on singles April 20, 2016 (affordable)
  9. Real financial lives of singles April 24, 2016 (real-financial-lives-of-singles-and-financial-discrimination-of-singles) –  shows financial profiles of three married or coupled family units and three ‘singles’ from various backgrounds
  10. Homelessness in Canada bigger problem for singles and poor single parent families May 23, 2016 (homelessness-in-canada-bigger-problem– study on single employables comprised of singles and single parents and how they are having a very difficult time surviving on low wages and lack of affordable housing
  11. Affordable housing not party of Conservative Party definition July 17, 2016 (affordable-housing-not-part-of-conservative-party-definitionappropriate housing definition and how Conservative party after 40 year reign in Alberta contributed very little to affordable housing during the oil boom)
  12. Improper definition of single status promotes financial discrimination August 7, 2016 (improper-definition-of-single-status-promotes-financial-discrimination)
  13. Equivalence scales August 17, 2016 (equivalence-scales-in-relation-to-cost-of-living see article for further description of scales and application in Canada)equivalence scales
  14. History of family tax credits over decades are financially discriminating to singles Part 2 of 2 August 23, 2016 (history-of-family-tax-credits-over-decades table – see article for full description)

family tax benefits over lifetime

The above table shows benefits available to a married or coupled family units with children from time they are able to use maternal and parental benefits to time of death of one spouse (yellow, blue and green fill in).  Single parents only have benefits related to their children (orange fill in).  Married or coupled family units without children have all the benefits related to having a spouse or partner (navy fill in).  Ever singles and early divorced singles have none of the benefits available to married or coupled family units (fill in is blank because they have none of the benefits of spouse #2.  In addition, they are often are unable to max out RRSP and TFSA contributions).  (While late in life divorced singles have none of the benefits for spouse #2, they may have been able to accumulate more net worth and assets while they had a spouse or partner).

15.  Boutique tax credits pushing singles into poverty Part 1 of 2 June 23, 2016 (boutique-tax-credits) and Part 2 of 2 July 3, 2016 (part-2-of-2) – shows how family tax credits given to families with high net worth (brought in by Liberal party this year) are financially discriminatory to singles and are actually pushing them into poverty

16.  Six Reasons Why Married/Coupled Persons are Able to Achieve More Financial Power (Wealth) than Singles (six-reasons – see article for further description – for marital manna benefits an example of a gourmet ice cream cone where married/coupled persons get additions of chocolate sauce and sprinkles, but singles only get the ice cream and cone)

“LETS TALK HOUSING” survey link (letstalkhousing)

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

DOING THE MATH ON FAMILY TAX CREDITS SHOW FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF POOR, LOWER MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES AND SINGLES-Part 1 of 2

DOING THE MATH ON FAMILY TAX CREDITS SHOW FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF POOR, LOWER MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES AND SINGLES-Part 1 of 2

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) consists of tax-free monthly payments that began in July, 2016 and provide maximum annual benefit of up to $6,400 per child under the age of six, and up to $5,400 per child ages six through seventeen.  This benefit is income-tested (but not net worth and assets tested), such that the amount depends not only on the family income, but also on the number of children and their ages.  (These amounts start being reduced when the adjusted family net income (AFNI) is over $30,000 and also is dependent on number of children in the family.  On the portion of adjusted family net income between $30,000 and $65,000, the benefit will be phased out at a rate of 7 per cent for a one-child family, 13.5 per cent for a two-child family, 19 per cent for a three-child family and 23 per cent for larger families. Where adjusted family net income exceeds $65,000, remaining benefits will be phased out at rates of $2,450 and 3.2 per cent for one-child family,  $4,725 and 5.7 per cent for two-child family, $6,650 and 8 per cent for three-child family and $8,050 and 9.5 per cent for larger families on the portion of income above $65,000).

The following scenarios from “Doing the child benefit math” by Jamie Golombek (financialpost), Financial Post September 30, 2016 shows financial evaluation performed by Jay Goodis from Tax Templates Inc.  This evaluation shows the impact of CCB on various levels of income in 2016, the after-tax cash they would keep along with their effective tax rates.

Scenario 1 – Low-income family

A Manitoba family has two kids under five and two working parents, each earning $15,000 of employment income. They are eligible for the entire CCB of $12,800; after paying CPP, EI, and a bit of tax, they net $39,560 of cash.

What would happen if one parent was able to work more, or was to get a higher paying job, such that she now made $25,000 — an increase of $10,000?  While she’s still in the lowest federal and Manitoba tax brackets, once you factor in the loss of CCB, the additional tax, CPP, and EI, her take-home extra cash is only $5,563, resulting in an effective marginal tax rate of a whopping 44 per cent (39 per cent if you ignore the additional CPP and EI contributions.)

As Goodis observed: “The CCB skews the progressive tax system and imposes a high effective tax on low income earners with children.”

Scenario 2 – Median-income family

A British Columbia couple has two children under the age of five. Their family’s income, consisting solely of employment income, is $76,000 split equally between each spouse. Their $12,800 of CCB is reduced to $7,448; and after federal and provincial taxes, CPP, and EI, the family nets $69,135 of cash. In other words, even with the clawback of some of their CCB, the couple has kept 91 per cent of their earned income.

Scenario 3 – High-income earner

Finally, consider an Ontario professional with three kids, two under five and one teen, earning $200,000 annually.  His CCB will be about $750 for the year.  If he were to earn an extra $1,000 of income, he would keep only just under $400 of it, resulting in an effective marginal tax rate of just over 60 per cent once the loss of the CCB is taken into account. (His status is not stated, assume he is a single parent?)

child-benefit-math-3-scenarios

ANALYSIS

With a fuller analysis of the information the following assumptions can be made:

  1. Minimum wage-most minimum wages in provinces range between $10 and $11 per hour, so it is hard to imagine that family in scenario 1 (low-income family) only makes combined income of $30,000.  At 2,000 annual hours of work per year per person, each person’s hourly rate only equals $7.50.  One must assume they are working part time jobs and are unable to find full time work.  Net income after deductions and with CCB of $39,560 still equals net hourly wage of only about $10 per person.   (The other possibility is that this family is wealthy by having huge net worth and assets that are not considered in the CCB and, therefore, do not need to work at full time jobs). For scenario 2 (medium-income family) the net wage after deductions and with CCB earned per hour equals about $17 per person.  For scenario 3 (high-income earner) and assumed 50% tax plus $750 CCB on $200,000 the net wage earned per hour equals about $50 per person.
  2. Income tax reductions-in scenario 1 (low-income family) get none of the 1.5% Liberal tax reduction because each of their incomes do not fall in the $44,401 and $89,401 range.  The same applies to scenario 2 (medium-income family).  Scenario 3 (high-income earner) gets the 1.5% tax deduction for income between $44,401 and $89,401.  Only upper middle-class families with individual spouse’s income over $44,401 to $89,401 would quality for income tax reductions in these scenarios.
  3. Canada Pension Plan (CPP)-both scenario 1 and 2 families will not receive maximum CPP retirement benefits because their individual incomes fall below the 2016 YMPE $54,900 individual income level.  In scenario 3 (high-income earner), he will earn full CPP benefits.  (Fact:  Canada Child benefit tax-free income will not require CPP contributions, so income excluding CCB was used for calculation of CPP retirement benefits.
  4. Canada Child Benefit (CCB)-For scenario 1 (low-income family) this family receives full Canada Child Benefits.  For scenario 2 (medium-income family) reduction is $4,275 and 5.7% for $76,000 income for total $5,352 CCB reduction. Reduction for scenario 3 (high-income earner) is $18,200 minus $6,650 and 8% for $200,000 income which equals total $17,450 CCB reduction.
  5. Understanding other calculations-For scenario 1 (low-income family) it is stated that an additional $10,000 in income would ‘produce take-home extra cash of only $5,563, resulting in an effective marginal tax rate (tax rate paid on last dollar of income and rate likely to be paid on next dollar of income-it is usually more than what is actually paid because basic exemptions, etc. have not been taken into consideration) of a whopping 44 per cent’. (Fifteen percent federal income tax on $10,000 equals $1,500, about 12% Manitoba provincial tax equals $1,200 and 13.5% Canada Child Benefit reduction on $10,000 equals $1,350 for a total of $4,050 not including additional CPP and EI payments).In scenario 3 (high-income earner, ?single parent) it is stated that with only an additional $1,000 income he would keep just under $400 of it, resulting in an effective marginal tax rate of just over 60 per cent once the loss of the CCB is taken into account.  When one takes into account that he is possibly taking home over $8,000 per month, it is likely that he will be able to max out his RRSP and TFSA accounts and will have maximum CPP benefits on retirement at age 65 if he works 40 years as well as RRSP and TFSA accounts to supplement his retirement income).
  6. Under-reporting of actual benefits received-Marginal tax rate-Since Canada operates on tax brackets, taxpayer will pay more tax when more is earned. However, it’s worth noting that tax rate paid is based on the income in each bracket. So the marginal tax rate doesn’t reflect the total that is paid on income. In fact, what taxpayer actually ends up paying, in terms of a percentage of income, is probably going to be lower than the marginal tax rate.  It should be noted that further possible provincial child assistance and family employment, GST rebate benefits and basic exemptions are not included in these examples.  Therefore, each scenario likely has more benefits than have been described in the examples.

CONCLUSION

As stated above by the financial analyst, statement is repeated here again:   “The CCB skews the progressive tax system and imposes a high effective (marginal used in these examples) tax on low income earners with children.”  Unfortunately, they create financial silos by including only one benefit without taking into consideration of the effect of other benefits.  In this post, attempt was made to include Liberal income tax deductions and possible retirement benefits to provide a better ‘across the board’ analysis of how upper-middle class families and wealthy benefit most.

While many families may view the CCB to be a wonderful program, boutique tax credits when taken into consideration with other programs can be shown to be less financially beneficial to low income and middle income families, especially with a stagnant minimum wage.  A stagnant minimum wage (minimum-wage) with a Canada Child Benefit may provide a better income for low income families for twenty or twenty five years during child-rearing, but will result in lower Canada Pension Plan benefits for seniors during their twenty years as seniors.  A higher minimum wage during child-rearing years will result in a higher income during child-rearing years, lower CCB along with higher CPP during senior years.  It is in the eye of the beholder and financial analysts to determine which is the better scenario.  A higher minimum wage appears to be the better scenario.

Another negative thing that can be said about the Canada Child Benefit program is that reductions of the benefit appear to decrease slightly with the addition of each child (resulting in a little more CCB being paid out with addition of each child).  This progression in CCB reductions appear to not follow equivalence scales (finances) where it is shown that cost of living per family does not increase times each additional child, but rather decreases per addition of each child.  (Example: cost of living square root equivalence scale one adult 1.0, two adults 1.4, two adults one child 1.7, two adults two children 2.0, two adults three children 2.2).  In scenario 2 (medium-income family) CCB benefit would be $3,598 for 1 child under 5, $7,448 for 2 children under five and $11,670 for three children under 5.  So, in fact scenario 2 family with three children would receive $292 more per child than family with one child even though equivalence scales show the cost of living per child is less for three children than it is for one child.

As has been stated in past blog posts, both the Liberal and Conservative parties, while handing out marital manna benefits and family benefits, have at the same time handed out benefits that favor upper-middle class families and wealthy the most. (Singles get none of these family credits and are unable to purchase homes and max out RRSP and TFSA accounts unless they have substantial incomes.) Some of these benefits include Liberal income tax reductions, maximum CPP benefits and exclusion of net worth and assets testing while failing to increase the minimum wage to an indexed living wage.  Politicians and governments continue to financially discriminate against singles and the poor while allowing the upper-middle class and wealthy to increase their wealth.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

OPINION LETTER ON ‘LEFT’S BIG LIE…’ AND FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION BASED ON MINIMUM WAGE CONTROVERSY

OPINION LETTER ON ‘LEFT’S BIG LIE…’ AND FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION BASED ON MINIMUM WAGE CONTROVERSY

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This blog post was submitted as an opinion letter to a local newspaper on October 27, 2016 in response to three opinion letters entered in the paper on left and right wing political parties.  It should be noted that this opinion letter was edited and shortened by the newspaper because there are often only so many words that can be submitted to newspapers. The title of the opinion letter was ‘Notley is a champion.’  The three opinion letters on which this post was based are outlined at the end of this blog post’.  The ‘The left’s big lie…’ does not appear in its entirety.

October 13 and 20, 2016 letters ‘The left’s big lie…’, ‘Only right and wrong’ and ‘Minimum wage increase won’t help anyone’ letters only produce financial misinformation and reduce political process to shoes (Conservative-minded folks are in the right and the wrong party Liberal -socialist species are in the wrong-the left should only refer to shoes).

Re ‘The left’s big lie…’ statements on socialism and left-wing politicians, analysis shows Conservative and Liberal policies surreptitiously and purposefully eliminate the middle class, thus practising ‘selective’ social democracy (democratic).  Advertently or inadvertently, future class system will consist mainly of the poor, upper-middle class and wealthy while favouring married or coupled family units with multiple ‘marital manna benefits’.  Square root equivalence scale (if value of ‘1’ is used for a single person, then a value of ‘1.4’ is applied for two adults since it costs them less to live) and ‘financial fairness for singles’ are ignored (singles-finances).

During federal Conservative and Liberal party reigns, even while reducing social programs helping vulnerable populations of aboriginals and veterans, introduced programs like pension splitting and OAS clawback particularly benefit the wealthy and married or coupled family units.  In OAS clawback only about five percent of seniors receive reduced OAS pensions, and only two percent lose entire amount.  The very program that is supposed to provide a ‘very modest pension to low and middle-income seniors’ has been redesigned to benefit the upper-middle class.

During provincial Conservative party forty year reign and oil boom, just 1,048 new affordable housing units in Calgary were built over the past 14 years.  Two thirds of shelter beds in Canada are filled by people who make relatively infrequent use of shelters and are more likely forced into shelters by economic conditions (due to structural factors, the state of housing and labour markets that destine the very poor to be unable to afford even minimum-quality housing).

Federal Liberals have continued Conservative benefit programs like Canada Child Benefit in perpetuity which is based on income and number of children, but not net worth and assets, so families may receive large tax free child benefits and continue increasing wealth even while already having huge assets (tax-credit).  

Elimination of the middle class is also evident in Liberals’ proposed Canada Pension plan enhancements (canada-pension-plan).  Premise remains the same – individuals with highest YMPE will receive the most CPP, while those at lower income levels will receive the least CPP benefits. Persons with highest YMPE of $82,700 (massive jump from 2016 $54,900) and forty years of contributions will receive 33 percent CPP benefit or about $2,300 per month, while those making a minimum wage of $15 per hour, $30,000 annual income with forty years of contributions will receive about $800 per month.  A single person earning $15 per hour minimum wage would have to work two and half full time jobs for forty years to equal the $82,700 YMPE.  

Schizophrenic political systems exist where CPP pension enhancements are controlled federally, but minimum wages are controlled provincially.  The continued unwillingness of government and business to promote minimum wage increases to indexed living wages means the poor will remain in poverty even with pension systems that are supposed to improve financial quality of life as seniors.

The words ‘hard-working people’ has been used again to ad nauseum.  The idea that minimum wage only increases having to pay more income tax is ludicrous. Yes, increase in minimum wage may increase income tax deductions by, for example, 20 percent but these recipients will also have 80 percent more income to spend which will be used to increase product and services.  Increasing CPP, but not increasing minimum wage means children in the future who are living in poverty will receive less CPP, while their wealthy CPP parents and family members will receive the bulk of the CPP enhancements.

We are all responsible for not fighting financial greed of plutocracy, big government and corporations like Walmart, tax loopholes, Wallstreet, outrageous salaries and prices in the entertainment, sports industries, housing and gentrification of cities.  This has resulted in small businesses not flourishing and poverty increasing to an unprecedented level. Failure to increase the minimum wage instead of dealing with real underlying problems equals fighting the wrong fight.

More champions for the vulnerable like Rachel Notley and Bernie Sanders are needed. Bring it  on!  (End of opinion letter)

The three opinion letters that this blog post refers to are included as follows:

‘The Left’s Big Lie…’ October 13, 2016 local newspaper

The totality of this article talks about climate change and ‘The radical environmental movement as well as left-wing Canadian political parties, most notably the Alberta NDP, are telling the BIG LIE about our energy industry and the global environment.’…..To explain, it goes back to the goal of socialism, which is to “restrict private enterprise and control the economy”…..If we continue down the path dictated by our left wing politicians, the standard of living in Alberta will continue to decline…..Albertans must come together and take back government from these politicians who put their radical ideology ahead of the interests of all the hard-working people in our great province.’

‘Only right and wrong’ October 20, 2016 local newspaper

‘Great letter (The left’s big lie).  However we have to get this right and left idea straight.  The only thing in my home that is left is my shoe.  In politics, it should be referred to as follows:  Conservative-minded folks are on the right.  Liberal-socialist species are on the wrong.  Wrong being the proper opposite of right unless you are describing an object such as my shoe.’

‘Minimum wage increase won’t help anyone’ Oct 20, 2016 local newspaper

‘I do believe all people should make a living wage, but driving up the minimum wage does not have that effect.  If you look at the numbers according to the Government of Alberta website there are 290,000 people in Alberta that make minimum wage.  If they all get $1/hr. raise at approximately 40 hours per week the economy needs to breakout an additional $638 million, with no real increase in product or service.  The cost of all things go up and still we have no living wage, but those on minimum wage now pay more income tax.  So, now the NDP has made political points as well as more tax revenue, while some have lost hours or jobs.  All fixed income people, like vets and seniors, are hit most because they get no raise in pay.’ (End of post)

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

OAS CLAWBACK OUTRAGEOUSLY BENEFICIAL TO UPPER MIDDLE-CLASS MARRIED OR COUPLED SENIORS, BUT FINANCIALLY DISCRIMINATORY TO SINGLES AND POOR

OAS CLAWBACK OUTRAGEOUSLY BENEFICIAL TO UPPER MIDDLE-CLASS MARRIED OR COUPLED SENIORS, BUT FINANCIALLY DISCRIMINATORY TO SINGLES AND POOR

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

(six-reasons-why-married-coupled-persons-are-able-to-achieve-more-financial-power-wealth)

Occasionally, there are topics that give one pause resulting in questioning as to the efficacy of the  formulation behind the topic.  The OAS Clawback (proper name is OAS Recovery tax as per Canada Revenue Agency) and the financial discriminatory properties behind the program is one such topic.  One way to resolve the questioning is to look at the topic in detail.

OAS is a federal social program designed to provide a very modest pension to low- and middle-income retirees.  It is part of the universal government benefits for seniors (pillar 1) to ensure income security for senior Canadians.  In 2016 the OAS maximum amount is $6,680 for a single person and $13,760 for a couple. OAS clawback which began around 2011 does very little to clawback the income of upper middle class persons, particularly married or coupled family units.  The clawback of OAS benefits in 2016 starts with a net income per person of $72,809 (couple $145,618)  and completely eliminates OAS with income of $118,055 (couple $236,110).  The repayment calculation is based on the difference between personal income and the threshold amount for the year. The repayment of OAS is 15 percent of that amount.  All OAS is clawed back if personal income is over $118,055.

According to Human Resource Development Canada, only about five percent of seniors receive reduced OAS pensions, and only two percent lose the entire amount.  This program benefits wealthy couples and widowers the most.  OAS clawback for couple only begins at net income of $145,618 ($72,809 per person) thus allowing them to receive full OAS of $13,760 as a couple.  There are not many ever single seniors, early divorced in life seniors and single parent seniors who could hope to achieve a net income of $72,809; however, for wealthy widowers this may be easier to achieve and they are the ones who complain about clawback.

An example of OAS clawback is the following example:  

The threshold for 2015 is $72,809.  If your income in 2015 was $80,000, then your repayment would be 15 percent of the difference between $80,000 and $72,809:

$80,000 – $72,809 = $7,191

$7,191 x 0.15 = $1,078.65

You would have to repay $1,078.65 for the July 2016 – June 2017 period.

Many financial advisors will give strategies on how to avoid the clawback while benefitting married or coupled family units the most.  This is just another example of financial marital manna benefits and manipulation of assets that within the legal limits of Canada Revenue Agency’s laws allows married or coupled person to increase their wealth (manipulation-of-assets).  This also is just another example of the upside finances perpetuated in this country by politicians, government and businesses that benefit married or coupled persons the most (quality-of-life).

From a financial advisor comes this statement (claw-back):  “I also want to put the impact of the claw back into perspective. Although no one likes to give up $6,600 in free money, it’s not like you were going to get to keep it all anyway. As the OAS is taxable, most people in the claw back zone would have paid back over 30% of it in taxes.

Secondly, some clients look at paying claw back as the cost of doing business; while they may not love it, they look at it as a price of their own financial success and as money they really don’t need anyway. Moreover, they might correctly see that in some cases combatting the claw back isn’t worth the effort. For example, although the rest of the article will focus on how dividends are often bad news for retirees trying to avoid the claw back, these same people might also be reluctant to modify their investments to produce other types of investment returns, especially if that means unnecessarily courting more investment risk or triggering a big capital gain in order to rebalance their portfolios”.

Limiting OAS Clawback

There are a few strategies you can implement to reduce clawback amounts (strategies):

  1. Split your pension with your spouse. If your spouse has a lower income, you can transfer up to 50 percent to your spouse, which should reduce your overall income. This could also include a Registered Retirement Income Fund and annuity income.
  2. Dip into your Registered Retirement Savings Plan before you turn 65. An RRSP is only a tax deferral, meaning that at some point, you’ll have to pay those taxes. Consider taking funds out before reaching the age of 65 so you do not lose the OAS.
  3. Use your tax-free savings accounts to generate investment income, which is non-taxable and would not count towards your net income.
  4. Interest on funds borrowed to earn investment income can be deducted and could reduce your net income.
  5. Watch for capital gains. If you are planning a sale of an asset that could trigger large capital gains, consider selling it before you turn 65.

From another financial planner (minimizing-clawback):  “At the end of the day, more people’s concern over OAS clawback will not be such a big deal simply because there are not a lot of people over the age of 65 making more than $72,809 of income. The people that do may have significant pensions or continue to work and earn and income over the age of 65. There will also be a group of people that trigger significant capital gains from the sale of second property or investments but the good news is they will only lose part or all of there OAS in the one year that the capital gains is realized and reported on the tax return. But if you happen to be one of the few that will get affected, make sure you plan ahead accordingly”.

CONCLUSION

The OAS clawback (implemented by Conservative party) is just another example of how politicians and government have ensured that senior upper middle class married or coupled family units with incomes between $72,809 to $118,055 net income per person will benefit more from the OAS government program. These same politicians and government agencies have financially discriminated against ever single seniors, early divorced in life seniors and single parent seniors by ensuring only five percent of seniors will receive reduced OAS pensions, and only two percent lose the entire amount.  Note we have specifically stated upper middle class married or coupled family units because wealthy married and coupled family units have already been excluded from receiving OAS pension by virtue of the $$118,055 (couple $236,110) net income limit.

To add further insult, politicians and government have ensured that the upper middle class will receive benefit upon benefit upon benefit to reduce the effects of the OAS recovery tax program.  The Liberal party (now ruling federal party) implemented a 1.5% reduction in income tax for incomes between $45,282 and $90,563.  These are middle class incomes, not incomes of the poor. Pension splitting is another program that reduces the possibility of OAS clawback.  As stated above, past governments have also ensured that marital manna benefits and ability to manipulate assets have been been given primarily to married or coupled family units all within legal limits of financial laws.  All of these benefits perpetuate an upside-down financial system where the upper middle class and the wealthy are able to achieve greater wealth than ever single, early divorced in life and single parent seniors.  In other words, the OAS Recovery Tax program (supposed to provide income security for poorer seniors) is a failed program which ensures greater wealth for the upper middle class and greater poverty for singles and the poor.

SOLUTION (added August 31, 2016)

Equivalence scales (scales) and net worth –  how many times can it be said over and over again that wealthy and upper middle class married or coupled family units are increasing their wealth by government programs designed to give more to these family units?  To correct this financial discrimination and upside finances for singles and the poor, equivalence scales and net worth need to be applied to these programs.  Monies saved could then be redistributed to the poor regardless of marital status.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

EQUIVALENCE SCALES IN RELATION TO COST OF LIVING

EQUIVALENCE SCALES IN RELATION TO COST OF LIVING

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

It should be noted that there is no perfect system; however,  the equivalence scales system is one method that provides a decent measure of eliminating financial discrimination and promotion of financial fairness with respect to cost of living assessments for all members of family units regardless of marital status.

Equivalence scales have been used to provide comparisons of costs of living between different family units (households).  The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) modified equivalence scale and square root equivalence scales are two examples.  The basis for equivalence scales are described as follows:  The needs of a household grow with each additional member but – due to economies of scale in consumption– not in a proportional way. Needs for housing space, electricity, etc. will not be three times as high for a household with three members than for a single person. With the help of equivalence scales each household type in the population is assigned a value in proportion to its needs. The factors commonly taken into account to assign these values are the size of the household and the age of its members (whether they are adults or children).

Table for two equivalence scales (updated March 29, 2017 – full StatsCan table available online):

equivalence scales

Statistics Canada 75F0002M – Section 2 ‘The LIM and proposed Modifications’  (75f0002m) provides an excellent overview of what is happening in Canada.  This paper proposes  modifications to the existing LIM (Low Income Measure) methodology.  “The first is to replace economic family by household as the basic accounting unit in which individuals pool income and enjoy economies of scale in consumption.   Secondly and equally if not more important, household is the international standard in comparative statistical surveys of income and well-being while the economic family concept is rarely employed by other countries.  Under the proposed modification, an individual will be defined as in low-income if the household as a whole is in low-income which in turn will generate different low-income statistics.   Adopting the square root equivalence scale – the square root has declining factors for each subsequent member while the LIM scale does not, and thus flattens out after the third member.. Furthermore, under the Square Root scale one needs only consider how many people are in the family whereas using the LIM scale one needs to keep in mind both the age of family members as well as whether the family is a single parent family”.

Added- December 1, 2017

The following explanation for equivalence scales as applied to LIM (Low Income Measure) has been taken from statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011

“The equivalence scales are employed to account for the economies of scales in consumption for different family compositions and sizes. A family of two persons needs more income than a single-person family, but not twice as much to maintain the same standard of living. Consequently, if the single-person family needs one unit of income, the two-person family needs more than one but less than two units of income. The equivalence scale system under LIM assigns a one to a single-person family, 1.4 to a two-person family (two adults or one adult and one child under 16 years of age), 1.7 to a three-person family consisting of two adults and one child, etc…….

Table 1 contains the after-tax LIM thresholds for the year 2006. Using data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID), the estimated median of adjusted after-tax family income is $30,358. Thus the standard LIM threshold is $30,358 ÷ 2 = $15,179. The LIM threshold for a single-person family is simply equal to the standard threshold since its equivalent size is unit. For a family of size 2, since its equivalence scale is 1.4, its LIM threshold would be $15,179 x 1.4 = $21,251…….

2.3 Adopting the squared-root equivalence scale

One of the key ingredients under the LIM methodology is to choose the equivalence scale. In essence, the equivalence scale measures how the consumption of an individual will have to change when her/his family status changes such that her/his level of well-being is maintained. For example, a woman lives alone and consumes a basket of goods and services for given prices and attains a certain level of utility. The problem in identifying the equivalence scale for her is to ask how much she would save if she were to live with somebody else, attaining the same utility level as before. Since a person cannot be living alone and together with somebody at the same time, it is generally impossible to identify the equivalence scale for each individual.

Nevertheless, income/resources pooling and sharing do occur within a family or household and economies of scale in joint consumption exist. For example, if two families, each of size two, were to decide to form a new family of size four, the new family would not need as many cars, stoves and refrigerators as when they were living separately to attain their previous levels of satisfaction. They may also be able to take advantage of bulk pricing and volume discounts. Thus, in practice, the equivalence scale is primarily employed to account for savings accrued in consumption expenditures for people who live together. But the problem is that there is no agreement about the degree and extent of the saving, and hence various equivalence scales have been proposed and employed.

The equivalence scales under LIM were chosen as a rough mid-point of several scales embodied in the various series of LICOs and administrative/legislative scales implied by the municipal budget guides and provincial social assistance levels. As Table 2 shows, they fall in between the Old Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) scales (also known as the Oxford scales) and scales derived by Poulin (1988) from Statistics Canada’s Income Satisfaction Surveys. These equivalence scales have been employed by Statistics Canada to produce the LIM thresholds since 1991, as well as those extended versions to earlier years. LIM’s equivalence scales are also employed by the MBM line.”

CONCLUSION

For those who doubt the validity of equivalence scales, the following link (pdf/CEPE_Echelles_equiv_en.provides evidence that equivalence scales do work provided they are constantly tweaked for validity in recognition there is no perfect system and evaluation is required for changes over time.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).