EFFECTS OF LOW INCOME ON BRAIN AND MENTAL HEALTH

(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).

Comment from blog author:  this blog post includes two articles regarding the effects that low income can have on young individuals and low income persons.  While it is entirely appropriate to provide government assistance to parents with children, more attention needs to be paid to singles and millennials particularly after they leave home and before marriage.

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.

 

UNPREDICTABLE EMPLOYMENT MAY BE BAD FOR BRAIN HEALTH by Lisa Rapaport, October10, 2019 (unpredictable-income)

(Reuters Health) – Young adults who don’t earn the same amount of money from year to year, or who weather substantial pay cuts, do worse on brain health assessments in midlife compared to those with steady income, a recent study suggests.

Researchers collected income data over two decades for 3,287 adults, starting in 1990 when they were 23 to 35 years old. They assessed income volatility based on how much earnings rose or fell from one year to the next, and also tallied how many times participants’ income dropped by at least 25%.

People who experienced greater income volatility and more pay cuts had worse scores for processing speed and executive functioning in cognitive tests in 2010. Brain scans that year also showed reduced connective white matter and worse structural integrity for people who experienced more income volatility and pay cuts.

“Overall, income volatility and unfavorable socioeconomic conditions may increase exposure to several risk factors of poor brain health,” said Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, a researcher at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City.

“Individuals who experience important income fluctuations may be more at risk for cardiovascular risk factors, depression or perceived stress, which are in turn associated with poor cognitive health,” Zeki Al Hazzouri said by email. “In addition, they may have lower access to high-quality healthcare, which may result in worse management of these risk factors, and potentiate their impact on brain health.”

Changes in cognitive test scores and brain scans didn’t appear to differ when researchers only looked at participants with the most education.

Almost half of the participants, 1,780 people, didn’t have any income drops of 25% or more during the study period. People in this group had average annual income of US$39,681.

Another 1,108 people experienced one major income decline during the study period, and this group had average annual income of US$32,253. And 399 individuals with average annual income of US$33,326 experienced two or more substantial income reductions.

Having multiple income drops appeared worse for brain health than having a single large drop during the study period.

The study wasn’t designed to prove whether earnings volatility directly impacts brain health.

However, economic struggles have been associated with unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and inactivity that could in turn contribute to worse brain health, poor cognitive function and dementia, the study team writes in Neurology.

“It’s well established that lower socioeconomic status is linked with poorer health,” said Dr. Joel Salinas, an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

“Factors like income volatility are especially significant when a recession looms,” Salinas said by email. “Times of individual and societal instability can have tremendous and enduring consequences – far beyond the economic, extending into the long term potential for entire communities to thrive.  SOURCE: https://bit.ly/35pNssA and https://bit.ly/2IERiV4 Neurology, online October 2, 2019.

FINANCIAL AND MENTAL HEALTH PRESSURES MOUNT ON STUDENTS by Joel Schlesinger (copied from written format, unable to find link)

It is supposed to be a time of learning, leading to a brighter future: a good career that contributes to society’s betterment while enriching their own lives.

Yet many Alberta post-secondary students are struggling to keep up with the costs of education and living.

And it’s affecting their mental health.

That’s the key message from student leaders at three of the largest post-secondary institutions in the province who were asked what are the biggest challenges facing students today.

And all indicated rising costs and mental health top the list.

“Not every student faces the same challenges, but there are very common threads that tie together their experience,” says Jessica Revington, president of the University of Calgary Students’ Union.

“Overall, I would say the costs of education and a lack of support are two big buckets many challenges fall into.”

Indeed, the difficulty paying for rising tuition, managing debt-loads and the growing cost of living are wearing on students, who are increasingly seeking support.

“Right now  there are challenges in connecting students to these supports,” Revington says.  “So while we may be talking about stress, we’re not providing supports for students to help them manage it in healthy ways.”

These challenges are echoed by the University of Alberta Students’ Union president Akanksha Bhatnagar.

“Research has shown a lot of the alarming rates of depression, anxiety and loneliness,” she says.

Another concern is sexual violence on campus, she adds.  “It’s hard to paint a completely picture of sexual violence, but we know that incidence of on-campus sexual violence is a top concern for students.”

The same holds true with other troubling issues including suicide, food bank use and even homelessness.

“At  the University of Alberta, student homelessness and food insecurity disproportionately impacts certain demographics on campuses such as LGBTQ2S+ and international students,” she says.

“Our campus food bank has seen a huge increase in clients, and we all believe our students shouldn’t have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from, or having a safe place to go home to at night.”

It’s not just university students who are under stress.  Those attending polytechnic and colleges in the province are also experiencing mental health challenges.

“Post-secondary education is a huge change in the lives for lots of students,” says Ryan Morstad, president of the SAIT Students’ Association.  “You may go to school in a new city; you have less structure with your classes; you’re meeting new friends, and you have to manage yourself and your budget.”

All  those can be in and of themselves stressful.  Then add in the fact that incidence of onset of mental illness is highest among 18- to 25-year olds,and it’s  easy to see why students might struggle without adequate support, he says.

Of course, managing costs of education are fuel to this fire.

“It’s just a whole bunch of things that are hitting you at the same time,” Morstad adds.

That just doesn’t include tuition.  It’s textbook costs, too – a top concern for SAIT students.  Indeed, American data suggest textbook costs increased by more than 800 per cent between 1978 and 2013.

“We find that students – if they buy all the textbooks for their courses – spend about $1,000 per semester”

What’s more, a recent study called the Hungry for Knowledge written by Meal Exchange, a national charity addressing food insecurity, found 50 per cent of surveyed students reported going without buying healthy food to pay for textbooks among other expenses.

“This is not something people like to talk about,”: Bhatnagar says, adding that the struggle students face isn’t an isolated problem.  “Students are having the same issues no matter what university or college they attend.”

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

 

 

BIG LITTLE LIES OF SIMPLE TAX (FLAT) RATE

BIG LITTLE LIES OF SIMPLE (FLAT) TAX RATE

(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 prompted by a right wing think tank article that once again promotes a flat tax and big little lies that it is already progressive and should replace the progressive tax system.  It was submitted to a local newspaper in shortened format, but was not published.

The article ‘Many misconceptions surround single tax rate’ is reprinted in its entirety at the end of this post along with reader comments.

EVALUATION OF SIMPLE (FLAT) TAX

This right wing author says he is the originator of the simple tax.  In fact, he has changed the name of the flat rate to the simple tax as per explanation given in article as reprinted at the end of this post.  The simple tax of 10% was adopted by the Alberta Conservative Government in 2001.  

While it is true the personal exemption rate was increased during implementation of the simple tax, during their forty year Alberta reign the Conservatives failed to raise the minimum wage to meaningful levels.  (Reality check:  The wealthy also get to use the personal exemption rate.)  One of the best big little lies or gaslighting of this author occurs when he fails to tell the truth that during the implementation of this simple tax the tax rate for lower income persons was changed from 8% to 10%.  There was no Alberta Advantage for lower income earners as a result of the tax rate being increased at the same time personal exemption rate was increased.

He once again spews lies on single tax being progressive.  He says tax paid by the wealthy are a gift to those who pay little or not tax.  Oh, puh-leese.

He states low income earners pay no tax, but fails to mention wealthy never pay their fair share.  He fails to mention the many tax federal and provincial tax loopholes and benefits which filter down to the wealthiest taxpayers.

The wealthy, for example, put their Old Age Security (OAS – a poverty reduction pillar that is only clawed back on top two percent) into TFSAs that are not declared as income.  Forty per cent of Canadians have net worths over $750,000.

The poor pay plenty by suffering financial and mental stresses while trying to pay for basic human necessities on provincial minimum wages which remained static for many years.  Low income earners cannot take advantage of tax loopholes and benefits because they do not have the income to do so.

CONCLUSION

Instead of ‘Conservative gaslighting pants on fire’ half truths, he needs to speak full truths on tax loopholes, benefits and minimum wages.  Progressive versus simple tax and ‘taxes explained in beer’ provides further discussion on fallacies of the simple tax for low income earners (tax-system-explained-in-beer-analogy). (End of post).

Reprint of simple tax article is given below.

‘MANY MISCONCEPTIONS SURROUND SINGLE TAX RATE’, Mark Milke, May 12, 2018 (https://www.pressreader.com/canada/calgary-herald/20180512/281702615355933)

Alberta’s cancelled single tax rate is in the news again after the United Conservative Party passed a policy resolution wanting it back.

 

That was followed by Twitter wars, interviews and commentaries about that tax, much of it uninformed or making obvious points.

 

I know something about the single rate tax system. I wrote about it in a 1998 submission to the Alberta Tax Review Committee, which recommended it be adopted, which it was in 2001.  I favour its return one day, but when spending is controlled and the budget is balanced.

 

Class warfare warriors have long mischaracterized Alberta’s single rate tax, so let’s clear up some misconceptions.

Let’s start with why it is called a single tax and not a flat tax. Because a true flat tax system would mean that no basic exemption exists — that everyone pays the same proportion of tax relative to income. That would be a bad idea. But that was never Alberta’s tax system. It is also why the political and media myth that the single tax was not progressive is nonsense.

 

In 2014, the last year the single-rate system was in effect, Alberta’s basic provincial personal exemption was $17,787. Income earners below that paid nothing in provincial income tax.  As for everyone else, at $25,000 in income, 2.9 per cent went to provincial income tax. At $50,000, the rate was 6.4 per cent. A $100,000 income was taxed 8.2 per cent. The single tax system was progressive.

 

Next up, the silly notion that the single rate tax was a giveaway to the wealthy. Note the language. It assumes money belongs to government and not those who earn it. In that view, any tax relief is a gift. That inverts a more sensible view from citizens to politicians: We will pay reasonable and justifiable taxes, but don’t assume our earnings are your property.

 

A relevant fact: Higher- and middle-income Albertans pay most of the income tax, not those with lower incomes. That is why the former and not the latter would gain in any tax relief scenario.

 

For example, using tax data from 2014, those earning under $50,000 counted for 57.3 per cent of all tax filers and paid just 7.6 per cent of all provincial income tax.  Of note, almost 1.8 million Albertans were in that under $50,000 group in 2014, but nearly half (845,690 Albertans) quite properly paid nothing in tax due to low incomes. (Another 8,290 at higher levels also did not pay provincial income tax for various reasons, such as maximizing previously unused RRSP deductions.)  Those who earned between $50,000 and $100,000 counted for 27 per cent of all tax filers and paid 30.6 per cent of all provincial income tax.

Albertans whose incomes were more than $100,000 accounted for 15.7 per cent of Alberta’s tax filers; they paid 61.8 per cent of all provincial income tax. Point: If one’s argument is that the wealthy should pay a hefty share of Alberta’s income tax burden, the $100,000-plus crowd in Alberta already did (a proportion higher both of tax filers and of total taxes paid than in any other province).  Thus, any substantive tax relief will naturally benefit that group.

 

Here’s the summary: Even when the single rate tax was in effect, Alberta’s over $50,000 tax filers already paid 92.4 per cent of all provincial income tax. And even for those who earned less than $50,000, more than half — more than 920,000 Albertans — paid all the income tax collected from that group.

 

When someone claims a single tax is a giveaway to higher incomes, the rhetoric has it backwards: The gift is actually from more than 2.2 million Albertans at all income levels in 2014, to the more than 850,000 Albertans who quite properly, mostly due to low incomes, paid nothing for the cost of government.

 

READER COMMENTS

#1 – Don’t bother with hard numbers Mark. It doesn’t fit the left wing rhetoric. Math is too hard for them. Lies and innuendo is the tool of the left. And 100k + income earners only paying 62% of the tax. No, Canadians want those earning more than 100k a year to pay 100% of the tax. That way, they get closer to their dream of equality of outcome. The last thing you want to do is stump a Canadian with real facts.

#2 – Your most salient point is that money belongs to those who earn it….not the government. I accept that if we want the social services we now enjoy taxes must be collected. But it must be fair and not punitive, which it is right now.

#3 – Whenever taxes are reduced, the high tax payers will always get the biggest break. Usually the biggest complainers of this move, are the socialists who pay very little tax. When Alberta implemented the single tax rate they increased the personal exemption, if the provincial or federal governments really wanted to help low income earners, just raise the exemption Trump increased the personal exemption for everybody, which means the low wage earners got a major tax break from trump. Currently are personal taxes are twice as high as the US, so why would any professional want to live in Canada compared to the US from a tax perspective.  (End of article).

(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.

POOR ALWAYS PLACED AT A DISADVANTAGE

POOR ALWAYS PLACED

(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 columnist’s opinion letter prompted the author to submit an opinion letter to a major local newspaper which was published.  Due to space and time constraints the last statement of the author’s opinion letter can be interpreted in several ways.  The conclusion discusses these interpretations.

COLUMNIST’S OPINION LETTER PUBLISHED IN MAJOR LOCAL NEWSPAPER

RE: Government hypocritical on minimum wage, Oct. 2. (hypocrisy)

‘What sort of person could possibly begrudge someone getting a raise when they only make 12 lousy bucks an hour?

Probably someone who’s been hanging onto the coattails of the deep thinkers over at the Fraser Institute, or maybe ingratiating themselves with those tall foreheads inhabiting the C.D. Howe playpen. Such folks talk as though the blood drained from their thin veins a long time since.

Nope, here in Calgary, on this glorious fall morning, some fine people will be starting work with an extra spring in their collective step, knowing a nice $1.40-an-hour raise is coming, with the minimum wage jacked up to $13.60, alongside the promise it’ll hit $15 in another year.

I wish them well and, honestly, a veritable pox on those who’d deny them otherwise.

Of course, some small-business owners might decide they can’t afford this new, higher wage, so instead, they’ll work extra unpaid shifts themselves and maybe cut some poor soul from the payroll altogether. No blame should be levied there, either. Walk a mile in those shoes.

Oh, then there are those big, international corporations – the McDonald’s and Amazons of this increasingly global and heartless world. The more the cost of labour goes up, then the more bottom-line reasons to invest in robots and automation. Such reactions are inevitable – on a worldwide scale, it’s why we don’t produce much of our electronic gadgets, clothes or food because someone, somewhere, does it much cheaper, and the price we’re willing to pay supersedes patriotism everytime and everywhere.

Countless economic studies – conducted, of course, by those who’ve never seen a minimum wage pay packet since mommy and daddy shelled out for that first go-round of college – have never successfully nailed the effect of such ordained raises on subsequent employment. Usually, the conclusions mirror the political viewpoint of the group paying for the study.

Let’s face it: any relevant data here in Calgary to be gleaned in the upcoming 12 months after this latest increase would be washed away in the wake of a jump to $70 in the price of a barrel of oil. There are too many factors involved, so politicians merrily fill the gap…..

…..Politicians love spouting one-sided rhetoric. Take Alberta’s NDP Labour Minister who’s pushing this minimum wage strategy.

“Through talking to economists, business people, low wage workers and other stakeholders, we’ve come to the decision all hard-working Albertans deserve enough to support themselves.”

Hypocrite is what I say to her and all the rest of the dreary clan on both the provincial and federal stage. Because if $13 bucks an hour is not a living wage – and I wouldn’t argue otherwise – then why do these people steal from those poor souls making such a pittance?

They call it taxation. On the federal level, you start paying tax at about $12,000 a year. So, assuming you make a paltry $13 an hour and work 40 each week, your annual income is about $27,000 a year. Oh yes, Ottawa wants its sweet pound of that sad flesh.

Now the NDP Labour Minister and her saintly crew aren’t quite as grasping, to be fair, but once $15 an hour is reached, then the yearly sum will be over $30,000 and a third will be subject to provincial income tax.

So what sort of person gets up on a platform with flunkies to the right and hangers-on to the left and proceeds to lecture everyone about how the lower paid need a living wage and then takes part of such an increase and pockets it themselves? After all, where does a politician’s salary come from if not from tax revenue?

What sort of person? A politician, that’s who.’

BLOG AUTHOR’S OPINION LETTER PUBLISHED IN A MAJOR LOCAL NEWSPAPER

The columnist calls the NDP Labour Minister hypocritical for pushing the minimum wage strategy.  He states government through taxation steal from those poor souls making such a pittance.

Fact check:  when the almighty Alberta Conservatives (financial-discrimination-based-on-minimum-wage-controversy) brought in the flat income tax, they raised the provincial tax from 8% to 10% for the lowest income level.  The poor never had an Alberta Advantage.

Fact check:  those with low lifetime income will have a pittance of CPP pension retirement pillar (canada-pension-plan) because CPP contributions are based on wage levels.

Politicians, corporations and the wealthy always win because they pull the financial purse strings.

CONCLUSION

Because of time and space constraints the last statement  ‘Politicians, corporations and the wealthy always win because they pull the financial purse strings’ would likely leave the reader thinking this blog author was agreeing with the columnist regarding taxation, minimum wage, and NDP hypocrisy.  The columnist fails to mention the Alberta NDP also replaced the Conservative Party flat tax with a progressive tax system while increasing the minimum wage.

It is the opinion of this author that the Alberta Conservative Party when implementing the flat tax placed low income persons at a financial disadvantage while benefitting the wealthy more.  The Alberta NDP has, in fact, done the right thing by replacing the 10% flat tax with a progressive tax and at the same time increasing the minimum wage incrementally to $15 per hour.  The poor will receive an increase in income (impact-on-cpp-enhancements) at same time the wealthy will pay more tax.  By increasing the minimum wage for the poor and tax for the wealthy, the unfair financial spread between the two groups is narrowed.

ALBERTA PROGRESSIVE TAX  2017 IMPLEMENTED BY ALBERTA NDP PARTY

  • First $126,625 10%
  • >$126,625 to $151,950 12%
  • >$151,950 to $202,600 13%
  • >$202,600 up to $303,900 14%
  • >$303,900 15%

CANADIAN FEDERAL PROGRESSIVE TAX 2017

  • 15% on the first $45,916 of taxable income, +
  • 20.5% on the next $45,915 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $45,916 up to $91,831), +
  • 26% on the next $50,522 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $91,831 up to $142,353), +
  • 29% on the next $60,447 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $142,353 up to $202,800), +
  • 33% of taxable income over $202,800

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

STAGNANT MINIMUM WAGE AND LOW INCOME IMPACT ON CPP ENHANCEMENTS

STAGNANT MINIMUM WAGE AND LOW INCOME IMPACT ON CPP ENHANCEMENTS

(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.)

Occasionally there are events or things in life that will ‘rock you to your core’, ‘knock your socks off’, or ‘set you back on your heels’.  On writing for this blog, one of these things or events is the minimum wage or low income and what an impact this has on financial lives of the poor and low income regards to proposed CPP enhancements.

From Department of Finance, “Background on Agreement in Principle on Canada Pension Plan Enhancement” (fin.gc) for proposed enhancement of CPP states the following:

‘Today, middle class Canadians are working harder than ever, but many are worried that they won’t have put away enough for their retirement.  Each year, fewer and fewer Canadians have workplace pensions to fall back on.  To address this, we made a commitment to Canadians to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) in order to help them to achieve their goal of a strong, secure and stable retirement……

There will be gradual 7-year phase-in below the Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE), followed by a 2-year phase-in of the upper earnings limit….

The maximum amount of earnings subject to CPP (from 2023 to 2025) will be increased by 14%.  The upper earnings limit will be targeted at $82,700 upon full implementation in 2025…..

In 2023, the CPP contribution rate is estimated to be 1% higher for both employers and employees on earnings up to the YMPE.  Beginning in 2024, a separate contribution rate (expected to be 4% each for employers and employees) will be implemented for earnings above the then prevailing YMPE.

All working Canadians will benefit from an enhancement of the CPP. This enhancement will increase income replacement from one-quarter (25%)  to one-third (33%) of pensionable earnings.

As the CPP enhancement will be fully funded, each year of contributing to the enhanced CPP will allow workers to accrue partial additional benefits. In general, full enhanced CPP benefits will be available after about 40 years of making contributions. Partial benefits will be available sooner and will be based on years of contributions.’

The following information regarding the middle class has been taken from (theglobeandmail):

A 2013 internal government document, entitled “What We Know about the Middle Class in Canada,” draws the lines more precisely, deeming the middle class as those whose after-tax income falls between 75 per cent and 150 per cent of the national median – which, using 2012 figures, would include any family taking home $54,150 to $108,300 a year.  “Family,” however, is a catch-all demographic that includes couples of all ages, with or without children, single or double-earners, and single parents. Single people are excluded entirely – one of the fastest growing groups in Canada and a big chunk of the middle class – whose income, using the same government calculation above, would fall between $21,150 and $42,300…..This is one reason why so many millionaires (44 per cent of those who responded to a recent survey by CNBC) outrageously define themselves as middle class when, in fact, once your personal income closes in on $200,000, you leap into the top 1 per cent of earners in Canada….(and top twenty per cent have salaries over $116,000).

Average income (before taxes and transfers) by quintile, all family types, 2013

  • Lowest: Up to $13,000
  • Second: $13,100-$37,000
  • Middle: $37,000-$66,500
  • Fourth: $66,500-$111,600
  • Highest: $111,600 and up

Source, Income Statistics Division, Statistics Canada

What the numbers say: Income levels have fluctuated over the last four decades, with lasting growth concentrated among the wealthiest. In 2011, the incomes of the bottom three quintiles were still lower than in 1976, adjusting for inflation. The top 40 per cent had jumped ahead, with the largest gains made by the top 20 per cent. Compared with 1976, they were the only Canadian households who saw their share of income rise….

What the numbers say: Between 1999 and 2012, the median net worth of Canadian families rose nearly 78 per cent, from $137,200 to $243,800. Most of this wealth is concentrated in housing, especially for lower-income groups. This new wealth wasn’t evenly distributed, however. Gains were higher, the wealthier the family. While median net worth grew by 107 per cent for the richest families, for the bottom 20 per cent it rose just 14.5 per cent. Within the middle class, richer Canadians also did better – the upper middle income saw their worth grow by 90 per cent; the lower middle income by 60 per cent…..

Baby boomers are working longer than expected, debts are rising, and grandma’s housing bonanza is pricing her grandchildren out of the real-estate market, especially in big cities where the best jobs are increasingly concentrated. Paul Kershaw, who studies generational equity at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health, has calculated that Canadians in their late 20s and early 30s will have to save, on average, five years longer to produce a down payment, and work one month a year more than their peers in 1976 to cover their mortgage. And according to a June report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, thirty-somethings are the only age group with a lower overall net worth in 2012 than they had in 1999…..’

READER COMMENT on above article:

‘This is the reality of Canadians in their twenties and thirties.  They are buffeted on the one hand by a regressive Service Sector (Service Sector-more than fast food outlets- includes banking, insurance, and information technology) senior management style reminiscent of pre industrial revolution feudal management and owners who believe that the 15% federal tax is excessive and should be demolished.  On the other hand these all important Canadians under forty years are hopelessly burdened by the same senior management who are responsible for policy that has created unmanageable long term student debt, unconscionable large mortgages with no long term rate matching to amortization and no defined benefit pension plans….the existing Bank Act and Insurance Act as well as Competition Law provides ample power for an enlightened government to bring fairness to our most important asset – Canadians under forty years old’.

MoneySense (middle-class)data based on Stats.Can. 2011 figures – Middle 20% pre-tax income for unattached individuals is $23,357 to $36,859 and for families of two or more $61,929 to $88,074.

In 2013, Stats.Can. data shows median after-tax income for unattached singles over 65 to be $25,700 and under 65 to be $29,800.  For female lone parent families $39,400, for two parent families with children $85,000 and senior families $52,500.

Living Wage Dollars (politicians) (a basic wage that keeps poor working Canadians off the streets) for 2013 Guelph, Wellington and 2012 Grande Prairie range from $19,284 to $25,380 for unattached singles and $56,796 to $62,844 for two parent, two children family unit.  Living Wage for Guelph/Wellington for 2015 has been set at $16.50 for family unit of two parents and two children. The City of Vancouver employee living wage for 2016 is $20.64.  The calculated living wage for Toronto family unit of four for 2015 is $18.52.

Minimum wage in 2015 (minimum) in provinces looked like this – British Columbia $10.25, Alberta $10.20 ($11.20 in Oct. 2015), Saskatchewan $10.20, Manitoba $10.70, Ontario $11.00, Quebec $10.35, New Brunswick $10.30, Nova Scotia $10.60, Prince Edward Island, $10.35, Newfoundland $10.25, Yukon $10.72, Northwest Territories $10.00, Nunavut $11.00.  For 2016, provincial minimum wage ranges from $10.65 to $13.00.  Very few provinces index minimum wage to inflation.  The Alberta NDP party who came into power in 2014 promises to raise minimum wage to $15 by 2018.

The following table shows CPP contribution and benefit rates from 1987 to 2025.  Future proposed rates are shown in yellow.  It is interesting to note that the maximum CPP pension payout does not equal 25% of the YMPE.  Rather it seems to average around 24%.  Where did the remaining dollars go – perhaps for administrative costs?  Payout for 2025 has been calculated at 32% rather than 33%.

cpp-enhancements

ANALYSIS

  1. Minimum wage or living wage in relation to CPP enhancement – A minimum wage averaging between $10.00 and $11.00 in Canada or approximately $20,000 and $22,000 annual wage for 2,000 worked hours per year means these employees working for forty years will receive virtually nothing in CPP payments in comparison to those employees whose maximum CPP YMPE will be $82,700.  If the estimated amount of CPP after forty years of contribution for $82,700 maximum YMPE will equal about $2,000 per month, then the CPP benefit for $20,000 annual salary could be estimated to be 25% or $500 per month.  Even with a living wage of $20.00 per hour or $40,000 annual salary for 2,000 worked hours will possibly only equal 50% or $1,000 (equivalent to rent or mortgage) CPP benefit per month.  Just what incentive is there for the poor and low income to work when the YMPE will rise to a level that is higher than the middle quintile income of  $37,000-$66,500 and when one of the criteria is working for forty years?  While it is understood that incomes will likely rise over the next forty years, past history has shown that it will repeat itself by not increasing the minimum wage to a living wage equally in proportion to CPP contributions and benefits.  Ever singles and early divorced singles without children deserve better when they  have worked for forty years, never used EI, never used family benefits like maternity or parental benefits, child rearing dropout credits, child benefits and widowed person benefits along with all the marital manna benefits (pension splitting). Question to be answered:  Will the minimum wage along with OAS and GIS rise to same level that CPP YMPE will rise and will they be indexed to same level (33% would be nice) so that CPP, OAS and GIS benefits for the poor and low income will be at least a living wage level throughout their senior lives?
  1.  Upper-middle class will benefit the most while the poor and low income Canadians have been left out of the formula – Politicians and governments continue to coddle the middle class and especially the upper-middle class (so stated by financial government officials themselves in above article “middle class Canadians are working harder than ever”).  The Canadians who will benefit the most from the proposed CPP YMPE are the top two quintiles earning $82,000 and up per year (fourth quintile $66,500-$111,600 average income for all family types as shown in above statistics).  As the CPP YMPE rises at a level that is exponentially higher than the average income level of the middle class, so will the CPP payouts rise at a level that is exponentially higher for the upper middle class.  In the table shown above, the yearly YMPE has risen at a relatively steady rate for each year.  Examples:  The YMPE rose $600 for years 2000 to 2001, $1,200 for 2015 to 2016 and proposed $1,100 for 2022 to 2023.  The YMPE will take a dramatic jump of $7,100 ($67,800 to $74,899) for 2023 to 2024 and $7,800 ($74,900 to $82,700) for 2024 to 2025.  The YMPE, which used to be more ‘middle of the road’ middle class, will now rise to upper middle class levels just like all other defined benefit plans in this country, the higher the salary-the higher the benefit.   (Widowed persons of higher income deceased spouses also benefit more from these plans, but have not made contributions equal to the pension payouts, even though as widowed persons they are now technically single).  It almost certainly can be guaranteed that annual incomes will not increase by that amount for any of the lower income groups and especially for the poor and low income groups.  Pension plans in this country have been made schizophrenic and financially upside-down when they are controlled by the federal government, but minimum wages are controlled by the provinces, while ensuring the wealthy will get wealthier and the poor will remain poor.
  1.  Four things that need to happen to eliminate financial discrimination of CPP enhancements – What is the incentive for ever singles, early divorced singles and poor families to work when government, politicians and businesses purposely implement financial policies that work against them?? Four things need to happen – one. raise minimum wage to a living wage with indexing; two, exponentially increase indexing of OAS and GIS to same level of $82,700 CPP YMPE; three, eliminate marital manna benefits that privilege high income families such as pension splitting and revise programs such as OAS recovery tax so they truly do progressively eliminate OAS according to income for the upper-middle class; and four, review all retirement benefits and retirement programs in totality and with each other (both on federal and provincial level) to prevent creation of financial silos that privilege the wealthy few.

SOLUTION

In addition to the above four items, how about adding six years of CPP benefits to total years worked for singles (ever singles and early divorced singles, excluding widowers), equivalent to child rearing dropout credits? (Added Sept. 26, 2016 but then, singles already work forty years so that idea won’t work.  So how about applying the equivalence scale of 1.4 to the CPP benefits that singles have earned while working)?  It is a known fact that it costs unattached singles more to live (senior-singles-pay-more) than married or coupled family units.  The Canada Revenue Agency knows who singles are as they have indicate themselves as such on their income tax submissions.  Now, wouldn’t that be a novel idea to eliminate financial discrimination and promote financial fairness for singles?

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

CANADA PENSION PLAN ENHANCEMENTS WILL DO NOTHING TO ELIMINATE FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND THE POOR

CANADA PENSION PLAN ENHANCEMENTS WILL DO NOTHING TO ELIMINATE FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF 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 last post discussed how the CPP plan in its present format financially discriminates against singles and the poor.  CPP is part of the Pillar 2 plan of Canada’s retirement income system for seniors.  The last post (program) showed how Canadian seniors will not receive full CPP benefit if they have not made full work contributions for forty years and if they do not have full Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings(YMPE) contributions for those forty years.  Canadians most likely to not receive full CPP benefits are those who have not worked for forty years or have not been able to make full contributions because of low income.  Senior singles also pay more and get less in seniors benefits (pay-more).

Recently there has been much discussion about CPP contributions and benefits being enhanced because Canadians are not saving enough for their retirement.  Apparently, the enhancements will include increasing the amount of required CPP contributions and, in return, the amount of CPP benefits received.

Enhancements include:  Once fully implemented in 2025, the total CPP contribution rate (which is shared between employees and employers) will increase from the current rate of 9.9 per cent to 11.9 per cent of eligible earnings up to a maximum of $72,500. In addition, earnings between $72,500 and $82,700 will also be subject to mandatory CPP contributions at a lower rate of 8 per cent.

CPP retirement benefits will also be increased. The replacement rate for pensionable earnings will increase from 25 per cent to 33 per cent. According to the Department of Finance, it will take “about 40 years” for the full increase in retirement benefits to be phased in.  The Department of Finance has stated that like the current program, future benefits will be based on the years of contribution and actual contributions.

The significance of these changes is astounding.  Future benefits will remain the same based on the two principles of the years of contributions and actual contributions, in other words, same old, same old.  The premise remains the same – individuals with highest YMPE will receive the most CCP, while those at lower income levels will receive the least CPP benefits because they have not been able to make maximum CPP contributions.

The YMPE will be be raised to between $72,500 and $82,700 (up from $54,900 or approximately $25 per hour in 2016).  Based on approximately 2,200 hours of work per year, $72,500 equals approximately $33 per hour and $82,700 equals approximately $38 per hour.  In other words, the more income an individual makes, the more CPP benefits they will receive.

In 2013, the minimum wage was around $10 in all provinces. In constant dollars, this rate was similar to the rate observed in the late 1970s.  It is only in the last several years that the minimum wage has increased somewhat.   Historically, Alberta’s minimum wage went from $8 in 2007 to $9.95 in 2013.   In addition to the stagnant wage, the Alberta income tax rate in 1999 went from a graduated rate based on income to a flat tax of 10%.  The tax rate for  the middle class and wealthy was changed to 10% while the rate for lower income individuals went up from 8% to 10%.

The 10% tax rate remained in place for about fourteen years until 2015, when the NDP came into power and reverted the flat tax system to a graduated system.The current minimum wage rose to $11.40 in October 2015 and is set to rise to $12.20 in October 2016.  This is has all been a result of the NDP party coming into power in Alberta after a forty year reign by the Progressive Conservative party.

At the present time, the difference between Alberta’s minimum wage today of $12.20 per hour and the present CPP YMPE rate of $25 per hour is striking.  What this means is that the middle class and wealthy working for forty years will be able to attain greater CPP wealth than the person earning a minimum wage who has faithfully worked for 40 years.  Why wouldn’t those working at minimum wage be angry and in utter despair at policy decisions that don’t financially include them with fairness and equality?  If ordinary persons without math degrees can figure this out, why can’t government, policy makers and businesses?

In order for there to be financial fairness, the minimum wage has to rise at same rate as the increase  the CPP YMPE rate!  Think that is going to happen, don’t hold your breath!

PROBLEMS:  

  • Governments and businesses give many excuses as to why minimum wage should not be raised
  • Businesses don’t want to pay the proposed increases of their required CPP employer contributions because they say it will impact their businesses-they are threatening to go to contract and part time employees.
  • Currently only two provinces index their minimum wages based on the Consumer Price Index, thus offering guaranteed protection from wage erosion. Currently, there is no accountability for those actually determining the minimum wage.
  • With new proposed enhancements earnings between $72,500 and $82,700 will also be subject to mandatory CPP contributions, but at a lower rate of 8 per cent.  Why is it that higher income earners always get the reduced rates?  Why should those earnings between $72,500 and $82,700 get a lower rate of 8 per cent?  What is the factual basis for choosing a lower rate for income range between $72,500 and $82,700?
  • Minimum wage or a living wage and income tax rates are two very important factors that help determine quality of financial life for singles and the poor.  So why is that politicians, governments and businesses always give better rates to higher income earners (middle class and wealthy than lower income earners and to families over singles)?  Those at lower income levels are more often made to pay more while getting less.  Examples of this are increasing minimum wage at pitiful rates and making lower income earners pay the same income tax rate while decreasing rates for the middle class and wealthy as described above (Alberta Conservative government).   The present Liberal party did same by reducing taxes only for the middle class, but not reducing rates for the poor.
  • Upside down finances continue to be perpetuated (finances) so that the poor are forcibly made to remain poor by the upside down financial decisions by government and politicians.  Why don’t single persons deserve a full CPP benefit if they have been faithfully employed for forty years, (never used EI, never used maternity/paternity benefits, etc.) but have not been able to contribute full YMPE because of a lower income?

CONCLUSION

The policy decisions by government for CPP enhancements past and present have created a pillar whose base is cracked and breaking.  The only way most ever singles, early divorced singles, single parents and the poor can ever hope to reach the maximum CPP YMPE is by working multiple jobs.   Married or coupled family units may have the option of both spouses working and receiving two CPP pensions.  The indexing of a minimum wage or a living wage is paramount in avoiding financial discrimination in CPP enhancements for singles and the poor. To do anything less is a blatant violation of the human and civil financial rights of poor and low income Canadians.

THE MINIMUM WAGE IN CANADA

An excellent article “The Minimum Wage in Canada” by the Canadian Labour Congress, April 2015 gives an excellent perspective on minimum wage (minwage).

Some of the details of this article include the following:  

“A profile of minimum wage workers will show that the stereotypical teenage employee is not the reality and many individuals are struggling to provide for their families on minimum wage incomes. Common concerns about increases to the minimum wage, such as a rise in unemployment rates, the financial impacts on small business, and alternative policy changes to address poverty will be discussed in order to break down the myth that an increase to the minimum wage will have detrimental economic impacts…..

British Columbia froze its minimum wage at $8.00 an hour for almost a decade.  During this freeze period minimum wage earners were put under increasing financial strain as inflation restricted their ability to consume.  Currently only two provinces index their minimum wages based on the Consumer Price Index, and are offered guaranteed protection from this type of wage erosion….

There are two clear considerations that must be made when evaluating the adequacy of the minimum wage in Canada….Letting the real value of the minimum wage deteriorate just creates a cycle of poverty….

For those who oppose increasing the minimum wage in Canada, there are several arguments used to justify maintaining low rates. …The amount of people earning the minimum wage has remained under 10% of the total working population. This is not a large enough portion of the population to make a difference; if most people already earn above the minimum wage there’s no need to increase it. One thing often used to strengthen this argument is that, of the small number of minimum wage workers that exist, the majority are teenagers or students who are not attempting to support a family. Instead, they are working for personal money or for the experience and will soon move up the job ladder. The first major issue with this argument is that it blatantly accepts discrimination as a reason to pay someone low wages. Age is one of the prohibited grounds outlined in Section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees all citizens equal and fair treatment under the law. To say that the wages of adults should be prioritized over the wages of young workers is a clear violation of this right. The purpose of setting a minimum wage is to create a sense of equality for vulnerable workers of all ages. Second, teens account for less than half of the minimum wage earners, so there are quite a few adults in Canada earning the lowest legal wages. Young adults may not have been active in the labour market for long but they are just that, legal adults who have financial responsibilities. Some do attend a post-secondary institute; however, that does not mean they are working out of choice. Not all young people have the financial support of their families to help them pursue their education. They rely on their paid employment to cover the ever increasing costs associated with education. ….The reality is that minimum wage earners are not one specific group of people and they definitely do not fit the stereotype of a few teenagers and students getting their first jobs. ….

The philosophy associated with our economic system is the constant need to keep costs as low as possible, which also means low wages for much of our workforce …. The theory is that as wages increase operation costs, employers are forced to find other ways to make up the difference. ….Although Canada’s unemployment rate has made some recovery since the 2009 recession, as of August 2014 it was still 7.0%…. Given the current economic climate, this argument suggests that the potential repercussions that increasing the minimum wage might have on unemployment rates, could seriously affect Canadian society. After examining the economic research available on the connection between unemployment and minimum wage increases, it is difficult to say with conviction how the two factors are related, if they are at all….. According to The World Bank’s World Development Report 2013: Jobs, there is no known universal impact of the minimum wage on unemployment rates. In order to say with certainty what the impact actually is, individual countries would have to closely monitor the labour market and compile vast amounts of research (World Bank, 2012). Our opinion on the matter is very similar. Based on the research that has already been done, there is too much contradicting evidence to say with confidence what the real effects on unemployment rates are.

A proposed alternative to increasing the minimum wage is to instead increase the basic personal tax exemption…..This policy does not introduce more money into the economy, it simply redirects it from government revenues to individual households. ….The redistribution of money does not make Canadians better off, it only continues to subsidize the low wages offered by employers…..

Minimum wage workers are more likely to be employed with a large firm than a small company; a troubling trend that requires further examination.  This recognition that large scale companies are more likely to pay the minimum wage than small businesses raises some serious concerns about who is utilizing minimum wage laws and why. ….However, some of Canada’s largest companies continue to offer many of their staff members only the minimum wage despite their recent success and profitability…..

Individuals earning low wages are the least likely to be meeting all their needs, so when their wages increase instead of saving their new income they use it to purchase the goods they have been lacking. This directly contrasts the wealthy who are more likely to save or invest additional income than inject it back into the local economy.

Minimum wage laws can actually benefit communities. Studies have shown that because individuals cannot afford to financially support their households on the minimum wage, they often turn to social services for assistance ….This means that the taxpayers are essentially subsidizing the low wages of a company that makes billions in profits. Additionally, when large firms move into an area and offer low priced goods, it drives down the wages of workers employed at small firms that need to reduce costs to stay competitive….. In some cases, not only will wages in the area drop but small employers will be forced to close—eliminating jobs altogether.

Even with most provinces attempting to conduct neutral reviews on the minimum wage rate, the final decision still remains politically motivated. One team of researchers found that, while the proximity of an election did not influence the decision to alter the minimum wage, the political ideologies of the government in power did. The New Democratic Party in particular were more likely to have a higher minimum wage rate in place than other parties (Dickson & Myatt, 2002). A 2006 study (Green & Harrison, 2006) found similar trends relating to the minimum wage and political agendas; conservative governments would let the minimum wage stagnate and centre-left parties would approve increases but neither were willing to make drastic changes. ….The issues at play when debating the appropriate minimum wage rate are complex, as it is not exclusively an economic policy….. Rather it is the ideology of “universal fairness” that generates support ….. This attitude is further portrayed by research that suggests the public perception of poverty is not to blame the victim. One study found that respondents, instead of citing the self-destructive behaviours of individuals like laziness and the inability to adhere to a budget, were more inclined to believe structural factors were the major contributors to poverty. This included social and economic factors like low wages (Love, et al, 2006). Individuals also recognized that employment no longer guaranteed people the means to escape poverty, as wages are often insufficient and, while workers are often willing to work more hours, full time positions are becoming more rare (Love, et al, 2006). The reality is that minimum wage policy is an economic, political, and social matter. As Canadians we must decide what we need from our minimum wage rates, then determine how to balance all these factors to achieve that goal. Decreasing wage inequality should be the first priority, as minimum wage policies have the potential to prevent extreme poverty. Increase the wages of other low paid workers and allow individuals to accumulate more financial support (World Bank, 2012). We must decide what quality of life we feel all Canadians deserve. Should full-time workers only be able to meet their basic needs like food and shelter, or are they entitled to a lifestyle that also considers their social and political well-being when determining basic living standards….? It is not possible to set the minimum wage based solely on economic factors because these broader social implications are the end results for Canadians.

Currently, there is no accountability for those actually determining the minimum wage.

This is not an issue that only affects businesses, so the human aspect needs to be given more priority in the minimum wage debate. While it is important for our economy to remain stable, we must also ensure the needs of workers are being met. They should be able to enjoy a certain standard of living; however, full-time employment is no longer a guaranteed escape from poverty. It is time to evaluate what our society deems fair, and compensate minimum wage workers accordingly. Raising the value of labour at the bottom, is a raise for everyone in Canada”.

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

CANADA PENSION PLAN JUST ANOTHER GOVERNMENT PROGRAM PROMOTING FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND THE POOR

CANADA PENSION PLAN JUST ANOTHER GOVERNMENT PROGRAM PROMOTING FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF 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).

(singles-need-to-learn-how-to-articulate-financial-discrimination-of-singles)

Our last post discussed the financial discrimination of Old Age Security (OAS).  This post discusses the financial discrimination of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

CPP is part of the Pillar 2 plan of Canada’s retirement income system for seniors.  Some of the attributes of the plan are:

  • Federal government and Provinces are joint stewards of the CPP
  • Provides retirement, survivor, and disability benefits
  • Universal coverage of all workers in all industries
  • Employees and employers make equal contributions (4.95% each – 9.9% combined in 2015?) on earnings up to annual maximum of $54,900 (2016)
  • Defined Benefit – up to 25% of the average wage
  • Fully portable
  • Inflation-indexed to CPI
  • Actuarially sound for the next 75 years
  • The maximum CPP benefit for 2016 is $1,092.50 per month.

Unfortunately, most Canadians do not realize that the average Canadian will not receive the maximum CPP on retirement.  In fact, most will only receive about $643 per month of CPP maximum.  Why is this so?

Jim Yiu from ‘Retire Happy’ in his article “How much will you get from Canada Pension Plan in Retirement?” states (words in italics are my words):  

‘When planning for retirement, the first piece of advice given is not to plan on getting the maximum.  When you look at the average payout of CPP, it’s just a little over $643 per month in 2016, which is a long way from the maximum. In other words, not everyone gets the maximum. At the most basic level, the amount you get from CPP depends on how much you put into CPP.

Why is it that so many people do not qualify for the maximum amount of CPP? The best way to answer that is to look at how you get the maximum retirement benefit. Eligibility to receive the maximum CPP benefit is based on meeting two criteria:

  1. Contributions – The first criteria is you must contribute into CPP for at least 83% of the time that you are eligible to contribute. Essentially, you are eligible to contribute to CPP from the age of 18 to 65, which is 47 years. 83% of 47 years is 39 years. Thus, the way to look at CPP is on a 39-point system. If you did not contribute into CPP for at least 39 years between the ages of 18 to 65, then you won’t get the maximum. If so, then you might get the maximum but there is another consideration.
  2. Amount of contributions – Every year you work and contribute to CPP between the age of 18 and 65, you add to your benefit. To qualify for the maximum, you must not only contribute to CPP for 39 years but you must also contribute ‘enough’ in each of those years. CPP uses something called the Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE) to determine whether you contributed enough. (For 2016 the YMPE is $54,900 – EQUIVALENT TO ABOUT $25 PER HOUR).

Basically if you make less than $53,600 of income in 2015 ($54,900 in 2016), you will not contribute enough to CPP to qualify for a point on the 39-point system…..As you can see, it’s not easy to qualify for full CPP especially with the trend of people entering into the workplace later because of education and people retiring earlier.  If you have 39 maximum years of contribution you’ll get the maximum CPP amount. If you have 20 maximum years of contributions you will get approximately half the maximum (you might get some partial credits for part years).

Planning your retirement needs and income requires some understanding of how much you will get from CPP. Many people either assume they will get the maximum or assume they will get nothing at all because they fear the benefit may not be there in the future. Both these assumptions have significant flaws. Take the time to personalize the planning by understanding how the CPP benefit is calculated and how much you will receive.’

ANALYSIS

Reasons why CPP is financially discriminatory to singles with low/moderate incomes and the poor:

    1. The YMPE 2016 salary to get maximum CPP benefits is $54,900 (up $1,300 from last year).  If average annual hours of work equals 2,200 hours then YMPE salary will be approximately $25 per hour.  Many singles and the poor do not have $25/hr. jobs.  In addition politicians, government, and businesses generally refuse to increase the minimum wage or ensure a living wage for all Canadians. If the YMPE is increased by $1,300, why aren’t the wages increased by the same amount for the poor so they can also contribute more to CPP?  Even those persons who work faithfully at full time jobs for forty years, but don’t have $25 per hour jobs will not receive full CPP benefits.  (Is this really what they deserve after working faithfully for their country for forty years)?  So who benefits most from CPP?  It is the middle class and wealthy who have at least $25/hr. jobs and, therefore, are able to get full  CPP benefits.
    2. Early retirement – who gets to retire early?  It is generally the upper middle class and wealthy married or coupled family units because of the marital manna benefits they receive, high incomes and the net worth they have.   In reality many of these families really do not need full CPP benefits.  From personal experience of this blog author, some married or coupled spouses will say both spouses do not need to work when really both spouses should be working or because of their high income only need one spouse working.  (To get full  CPP benefits each Canadian born citizen needs to contribute into CPP for at least 39 years between the ages of 18 to 65.   And, Canadians must not only contribute to CPP for 39 years but they must also contribute ‘enough’ to maximum of YMPE in each of these years).
    3. Marital manna benefits – Married or coupled family units have received many marital manna benefits that allows them to achieve more wealth than many singles and the poor.  One such example is the Child Rearing Drop-out Benefit.  CPP benefits may be increased for years that spouse did not generate income because of staying home to rear child from ages 1 to 6.  This is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but those who are more likely to be able to stay home for child rearing are those with healthy incomes.
    4. Perception of financial  need –  Many politicians, governments, and financial planners have misconceived perceptions that financial goals should be for Canadians to have equal or higher pension income than while working.  In other words, if poor, it is okay to always be poor even in retirement.  For middle class or wealthy they say the goal should be equal or more pension income than working income even with high net worth and assets.  In reality, institutions like the OECD states less wealthy need 100% retirement income  of working income, while wealthy need retirement incomes that are much less of working income.  What is left out of these perceptions is quality of life.  Equal or higher pension income than income while working for singles with low/moderate incomes and the poor especially if paying rent or mortgage in retirement often does not equal a good quality of life.
    5. Proposed enhancements to CPP contributions and benefits – Proposed enhancements where CPP retirement pensions will be higher if taken after age 65 and./or will be higher if person works past age 65 are very good things. However, it is likely that singles and the poor are not the ones who will be able to postpone receiving their CPP benefits, and it is also more likely that singles and the poor are the ones who will need to work longer.  As for increasing CPP contributions now so that CPP benefits can be increased in the future, this generally is a good thing; however, the stress of having to contribute more will be more financially distressing for singles with low and moderate incomes and the poor rather than the middle class and the wealthy.

CONCLUSION

It seems to be more important for politicians and governments to ensure that upper-middle class and wealthy maintain their standard of living than it is to treat ever singles, early divorced singles, single parents and the poor fairly in benefits they receive (cpp).

Upside-down financial systems (upside-down) and marital manna benefits have created a nanny state where married/coupled persons want it all and once these benefits are in place, it is very difficult to eliminate them because of voter entitlement.  Upper middle class and wealthy married/coupled persons have been made irresponsible by their own politicians and government.  Many are not living an equal life style in their retirement, but a much better lifestyle.  A further question is whether these programs will be financially sustainable because upper class and wealthy married or coupled family units have not contributed enough to pay for these benefits.

Much is required of all family units regardless of marital status to educate themselves on what their actual retirement income will be.  If you don’t work, you won’t get CPP.   You won’t get CPP if you don’t work.  You won’t get CPP if you don’t make CPP contributions, for example, working ‘under the table’.  (And, wouldn’t it be nice for parents to pass this financial information onto their children so that their children will also make wise financial decisions)!  Much is required of financial planners to educate themselves on quality of life issues, not just equal or higher pension incomes.  Much is required of politicians and governments to educate themselves on how financially discriminatory many of the pension benefits are and to make changes so that there is financial equality and fairness in distribution of pension benefits for every Canadian,not just middle class married or coupled family units and the wealthy.

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

BOUTIQUE TAX CREDITS PUSHING SINGLES INTO POVERTY-Part 1 of 2

BOUTIQUE TAX CREDITS PUSHING SINGLES INTO POVERTY-Part 1 of 2

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice. (six-reasons-why-married-coupled-persons-are-able-to-achieve-more-financial-power-wealth)

(The last two posts discussed how detrimental boutique tax credits can become to the financial well-being of a country and its citizens.  Boutique tax credits once they have been implemented are very hard to repeal because of voter sense of entitlement.  These were based on ‘Policy Forum: The Case Against Boutique Tax Credit and Similar Expenditures’ by Neil brooks).  This post was updated on July 8, 2014.

This post itemizes a personal finance case showing how certain family units benefit far more from boutique tax credits than other family units like ever singles.  One could say this case is totally bizarre in how benefits can be doled out in excess while recipients pay little or no tax).  This post was updated on June 24,  2016.

CASE 1 – Financial Post Personal Finance Plan, June 11, 2016 – ‘Farm Plan Risky for Couple with 4 Kids’ (financialpost)

Ed age 32 and Teresa 33 have four children ages 5, 3, 1 and newborn in British Columbia. Ed works for a government agency and Teresa is a homemaker.  At age 32 and 33, they already have a net worth of $502,000.  Their $208,000 home is not in the Vancouver area and is fully paid for.  Their land is valued at 177,000 with $37,000 (21%) owing on the mortgage.  They would like to sell their house, move out of town and set up a small farm.  Ed would give up his government job and they would get income by selling eggs and produce, hopefully at a profit.  Their plan is to retire comfortably and securely with about $4,000 in present-day dollars and after tax.  At age 32 and 33, they also already have a net worth of half a million dollars ($502,000).

 Ed brings home $2,680 per month.  They will receive the new, non-taxable Canada Child Benefit (CCB) (brought in by the ruling Liberal Party to replace the Conservative Universal Child Care Benefit) at $1,811 for their four children, all under the age of 6.  This brings their total family disposable income to $4,491 per month.  The CCB makes a huge difference by contributing about 40 per cent to take-home income.

(When all four children are ages 6 to 17, the CCB will be $1,478 a month based on 2016 rates).

 

 

boutique tax credit case 1

Financial Planner’s Recommendations – Apply $17,000 cash already reserved for kids to Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP), so they can capture the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) of the lesser of 20 per cent of contributions or $500 per beneficiary.  Using the children’s present ages of 5, 3, 1, and one month, subsequent annual contributions of $2,500 per child plus the $500 CESG (to a maximum of $7,200 per beneficiary) with a three per cent annual growth after inflation would generate a total of about $270,000 or about $67,500 per child for post secondary-education.

Re job, advice is that Ed continue working until the age of 60 and when the youngest child is 18.  Advice is also given for purchase of the farm, details of which will not be discussed here.  Each spouse would add $5,500 to their TFSAs for each year until Ed is age 60.

Re retirement, if Ed retires at age 60 and Teresa continues as a stay at home spouse, in 2016 dollars he and Teresa would have his $26,208 defined benefit pension and the $7,200 bridge, Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) payments of $5,727 a year and Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) payments of $29,360 for a total pre-tax income of $68,495, or $5,137 per month to spend after 10 per cent tax and no tax on TFSA payments.  At age 65, Ed would lose the $7,200 bridge but gain $11,176 in annual Canada Pension Plan (CPP), plus Old Age Security (OAS) payments of $6,846 each spouse, for total income of $86,163 with no tax on TFSA payouts and pension and age credits.  After tax, they would have $6,460 a month to spend.  Both before and after 65, they would have achieved beyond expectations their goal of $4,000 monthly income.

The unknowns of this plan are the cost of farm and whether it will make a profit.  The financial  planner states:

 “As a retirement plan, it is a wonderful goal.  As a financial endeavour, it is speculative.”

ANALYSIS

All calculations in 2016 dollars and assumes there is no wage increase for Ed and Teresa will remain stay at home spouse and all federal benefit plans and credits will remain the same.

Child benefit non taxable:

All four children up to and including age 5 – $1,811 per month times 12 months times 5 years (not fully calculated for age)  =  approximately $108,000

All four children age 6 up to and including 17 –  $1,478 per month times 12 months times 13 years = approximately $231,000

Total benefit for eighteen years = approximately $339,000

TFSA contributions in after-tax dollars and tax free and not including interest earned $5,500 times two persons times to sixty years of age (Ed) $11,000 times 28 years = $308,000

RESP contributions $2,500 per child per year times four equals $10,000 per year plus $500 up to maximum $7,200 grant per child will generate with three per cent growth a total of about $270,000 education savings for children.

$7,200 grant per child times four = $28,800.

Retirement – they want to retire at age 60, will pay only 10 per cent tax on $68,495 pre-tax including tax-free TFSA income or $5,137 per month.  At 65 they will have total income of $86,143 and  with pension splitting will have $6,460 after-tax monthly income (not able to calculate total benefits received).

These calculations do not include other possible GST/HST credits and tax credits offered by the provinces (example: BC Low Income Climate Action Tax Credit even though this family unit of six will use far more resources affecting climate change than a family unit of one person).  These calculations also do not include benefits of reduced fees, etc. that families get, but ever singles do not.

If Ed retires at age 60, when his youngest child is age 18, he will never have worked a year where full taxes were paid.

All things being equal, this couple will receive benefit upon benefit from present year to when they retire at age 60 and beyond age 65.  If Ed is deceased before Teresa, as a widower Teresa will receive even more benefits as a survivor with survivor pension benefits.

In reality,  they likely will receive approximately $1 million dollars in benefits which is essentially the cost of raising their children and their children will have healthy education accounts.   The parents will retire with even more income than they had while raising their children, and have accumulated a healthy sum in assets.  With assets and value of assets remaining same at age 60 retirement, parents will  have $485,000 in farm, $48,000 in RRSPs and $349,000 in TFSAs for total of $882,000.  So, they will essentially be close to millionaire status while receiving multiple benefits and paying almost no taxes.

This couple from the time they are married until one spouse is deceased will have received shower, wedding, baby gifts, possible maternity/paternity leaves, child benefits times four children, TFSA benefits times two, reduced taxes, pension splitting, possible survivor pension benefits, and retirement before age 65.

While it is understood that is expensive to raise children, it is bizarre that  parents believe they can raise children, retire before age 65 and pay very little in taxes to support the benefits they believe they are entitled to.  Why should these families get benefits beyond raising their children like pension splitting when they have huge TFSA tax free accounts including other assets?   (Neil Brooks calls the pension splitting tax credit outrageous).  The plethora of benefits given to parents with children is what the blog author calls ‘selective’ social democracy or situation where benefits are given to one segment of the population so they can achieve more wealth at the expense other segments of the population such as ever singles and divorced persons without children.

CONCLUSION

So who is paying for all of this?  One group of Canadian citizens subsidizing families as in case above are ever singles (never married, no kids) and divorced persons without children.  They will never achieve a monthly income of $4,500 per month unless they are making a very good income.  They don’t have the money to max out TFSA amounts like this couple has.  The only benefits ever singles and divorced persons without children will ever receive is if they are in an abject state of poverty.  They also will never be able to accumulate the retirement and other assets that this couple has.  They are never likely able to retire at age 60 unless they have equivalent income to the above couple (at least $60,000 per year).  A middle quintile income for unattached singles is $23,357 to $36,859.  At $55,499 income an unattached single is considered to be in top quintile of income for the country (moneysense), but they have problems living on this income as has been shown in previous posts.

Ever singles and divorced persons without children with before-tax income equivalent to this couple will pay much more tax, for (example $60,000 to $70,000 income).  If one calculates the income tax contributed by an ever single at $15,000 per year time 40 years of employment total contributed to Canadian coffers is $600,000 over working life. Employment insurance deductions (used in large part for maternal/paternal leaves) at $1,000 per year adds another $40,000 to  the total.  Ever singles never get any of this back because they pay more taxes, can’t pension split and are not considered to be part of the financial family by politicians, government and even their own families and married/coupled siblings..  All political parties are guilty of excluding ever singles from financial formulas.  Ever singles have very little financial and voting power because they are a minority in a society where parents and children rule.

Ever singles and divorced persons without children are being pushed into a state of poverty by the plethora of tax credits given only to families, but for which ever singles and divorced persons without kids have to pay without getting equivalent of same benefits.

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

CONTINUED FINANCIAL ILLITERACY OF FINANCIAL GURUS EQUALS FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SENIOR SINGLES (Part 1 of 2)

CONTINUED FINANCIAL ILLITERACY OF FINANCIAL GURUS EQUALS FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SENIOR SINGLES (Part 1 of 2)

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

In February, 2016 the Broadbent Institute and Richard Shillington of Tristat Resources in Canada has published the report:  “An Analysis of the Economic Circumstances of Canadian Seniors” http://goo.gl/HNP2Ee

The report information is mainly directed towards poverty of seniors without an employer pension plan (roughly 47 per cent) and therefore, many of these seniors have wholly inadequate retirement savings.

Using LIM (low-income measure) senior poverty has increased from a low of 3.9 per cent in 1995 to 11.1 per, or one in nine, in 2013.  The poverty rates for single seniors, particularly women (at nearly 30 per cent), are very high and need to be addressed, (Page 2).   (LICO, or Low Income Cut Off, is not used here because it is not a true income poverty indicator as it was set in 1992 where families spend 20 per cent more of their income on necessities than was typical and has not been reset since.)

(It should be noted in the report that single seniors does not refer to marital status, but the fact that they live alone.  Therefore, single seniors includes ‘ever’ singles, divorced/separated, and widowed seniors living alone.)

In Canada, the income-tested OAS (Old Age Security) and GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) benefits together provide a regular minimum economic guarantee and are used to supplement regular income (from CPP-Canadian Pension Plan, private pensions and private savings) to lift seniors out of poverty.

Some of  the key findings of the report include:

  • The proportion of the population receiving the GIS is higher for senior singles than couples, and higher for single women (between 44 per cent and 48 per cent) than for single men (between 31 percent and 37 per cent), (Page 3).
  • ‘Roughly half of those aged 55-64 with no employer pension  benefits….. have savings that represent less than one year’s worth of the resources they need to supplement OAS/GIS and CPP.  Fewer than 20 per cent have enough savings to support the supplemented resources required for at least five years, (Page 3)…..For those with incomes in $50,000-$100,000 range, the median value is only $21,000…..(Page 3).
  • The overall median value of retirement assets of those aged 55-64 with no accrued pension benefits is just over $3,000.  For those with annual incomes in the range of $25,000-$50,000. the median value is just over $250.  For those with incomes in the $50,000-$100,000 range, the median value is only $21,000, (Page 3).
  • Only a small minority (roughly 15-20 per cent) of middle-income Canadians retiring without an employee pension plan have saved….enough for retirement.  The vast majority of those families with annual incomes of $50,000 and more will be hard pressed to save enough in their remaining period to retirement (less than 10 years)…..(Page 3).
  • The seniors’ poverty gap is $2.5 billion in aggregate annually, due to the 719,000 poor seniors (469,000 singles and 250,000 living in an economic family.)  A 10 per cent benefit increase in the GIS to address this gap would cost $1,628 million, and would reduce the number of poor seniors (married/coupled and singles) by about 149,000, (Page 3).
  • In the recent election, the Federal Liberal Party promised to increase the GIS by 10 per cent for single seniors.  (NOTE:  this does not include coupled seniors).  A simulation using Statistics Canada’s Social Policy Simulation Database and Model (SPSD/M) suggests this would cost $700 million and remove about 85,000 single seniors from the poverty roles, with a reduction in the singles poverty rate of 5.7 percentage points, (Page 3).  (Singles poverty rate of 5.7 percentage points from approximately  28 per cent for senior single females, and 24 per cent for senior single males, that’s all???)

Factors Affecting Seniors Poverty

As of July 2015, the income-tested maximum annual OAS/GIS benefits for seniors aged 65 and over with no other source of income were $15,970 for singles and $25,746 for couples…..The GIS is phased out as income rises and is reduced to zero above an annual income (thus calculated) of $17,136 for single seniors and $22,068 for senior couples, (Page 9).

Reliance on the GIS is greater for single seniors than it is for senior couples across all age ranges…..  For example, 41 per cent of all seniors over 85 receive the GIS, while only 30 per cent of seniors aged 66-69 receive it. (Page 9).

Pension Coverage (Page 12)

The difference in incomes at retirement between those seniors with and without a pension income is stark…..The difference is not all due simply to the presence or absence of an employer pension plan.  Those who have had an employer pension plan are more likely to have had better paying jobs, and jobs with health and other benefits.  As well, it is possible for those who seek out jobs with a pension are more likely to be those motivated to save for retirement.  But certainly, participating in a pension offers advantages that make it easier to have a higher income at retirement, (Page 12).

For couples, those without pension income have significantly lower total incomes ($52,000) to compared to those with pension income ($68,000).  This is despite their higher income from earnings ($19,100 for those without pension income, compared to $7,200 for those with pension income).

For individuals, the story is very different:  They are more likely than couples to be over the age of 70, and much less likely to be employed.  For single women, the median incomes are $18,000 for those without a pension and $30,400 for those with a pension  For men, the medians are $19,000 and $37,300, respectively.  These gaps are significant, (Page 12).

LIM (Low Income Measure) is used in this report and is based on after-tax income to assess poverty of seniors.  This measure shows what proportion of persons have after-tax incomes that are less than half of the median or midpoint to comparable families.

Two criterion to assess adequacy of income at retirement are:  1)  poverty criterion, and 2) replacement rate concept, (Page 13).

Generally,  the median incomes for those without pension income is just over half for those with pension income, (Page 13).

The report goes on “to suggest that a significant proportion of those without an employer pension plan will not have saved adequately for retirement and will suffer a major loss of income”.

Retirement savings without employer pension (Page 14-16)

Report states that from Survey of Financial Security for 2012 about half of families (what is the definition of family here?) aged 55-64 without an employer pension have virtually no savings; indeed 78 per of them have less than $100,000 in retirement savings.  Lower-income families eligible for OAS/GIS along with CPP may still have little or no drop in income, however inadequate that income might be, (Page 14).

….Vast majority of these families with annual incomes of $50,000 and more will be hard pressed to save enough in their remaining period of retirement (less than 10 years) to avoid a significant fall in income.  It appears that at least 25 per cent have very limited retirement assets despite incomes of $50,000-$200,000, (Page 15).

The report does state that ‘analysis presented in tables is somewhat simplistic because it ignores the impact of public benefits (OAS/GIS and CPP) on the amount that future seniors need to save.  It is also accepted that many seniors need less income in retirement in order to maintain the standard of living that they had pre-retirement.  The actual replacement rate required-the ratio of post-retirement to pre-retirement income-varies by how it is measured (pre- or post-tax).  Seventy per cent is commonly used, although it varies by individual circumstances and tastes; higher values are more appropriate for the poor, and lower values are more appropriate for the very wealthy’, (Page 15-16).

Retirement savings compared to income (Page 16-20)

Tables show widespread under-saving using calculations of 70 per cent pre-tax replacement rate…

Some do not need to save for retirement to get 70 per cent replacement because their income is quite low (below $21,429 for singles and $35,714 for couples).  These individuals and couples were deleted from table 5…..,(Page 16).

To illustrate, a family with an income of $100,000 (pre-tax) is assumed to need $70,000 (70 per cent of $100,000), and will get roughly $25,000 in public support.  Thus, they will need to make up $45,000 per year from their private savings, (Page 16).

Even those with an income of more than $100,000 are unlikely to have more than five years worth of the required supplemental income in their retirement savings; only 21 per cent meet this criterion……(Page 17).

In summary, regardless of income, few of these families have enough savings to supplement their income for even one year.  Only 15-20 per cent have enough for five or more years. (Page 17).

…..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).

One Option:  Reducing seniors poverty with GIS

The report then makes suggestions for decreasing poverty rate. One option is reducing seniors poverty with short term changes to GIS.  One of the paragraphs is as follows:

Table 6 presents estimates of the poverty gap using Statistics Canada’s SPSD/M microsimulation model. The poverty gap is the total amount of money that would be needed to raise the incomes of all poor seniors to the LIM poverty line-ignoring any  behavioral impacts of the transfer programs used to achieve that goal…..The poverty gap is $2.5 billion in aggregate, which is due to the 719,000 seniors:  419,000 singles and 250,000 living in an economic family.  The average gap is $2,400 for singles and $5,500 for seniors in a family, (Page 20-21).

Table 7 represents the results of increasing the single and married GIS amounts by the same percentage.  One should keep in mind that there is an incentive for seniors to appear as singles to governments even if they are living as a couple.  This is because the GIS for senior couples is less than twice the amount for singles.  An increase in the GIS for singles only (with no increase for couples) would increase this so-called ‘tax on marriage’ and associated incentives.  This would encourage couples to hide their cohabitation from the authorities for financial reasons, (Page 21).

The notation (# 28) at the bottom of page 21 states:  While legislation treats those cohabiting the same regardless of their marital status, it is easier to deceive the government if you are not married.  (Really???  How is this so when single status needs to reported on income tax returns; lying about marital status is a felony?).

Taking one example (from Table 7) of the tabulated results, a 10.0 increase is estimated to increase the cost of the GIS by $1,628 million to yield a poverty rate of 10.5 per cent and to reduce the number of poor seniors by about 149,000, (Page 22).

The (Federal) Liberal Party’s proposal in the recent election was to increase the GIS by 10 per cent for single seniors.  The SPSD/M simulation suggests that this would cost $700 million and remove about 85,000 single seniors from poverty, with a reduction in the singles poverty rate of 5.7 percentage points.  While a reasonable starting point, clearly much more can be done to reduce the poverty rate, (Page 22).

Conclusions

Poverty rates for seniors have been trending up since 1995.  Rates remain unacceptably high for single seniors-particularly women-and the worsening trends in pension coverage point to further increases in poverty in the future.  The GIS is the most effective federal mechanism in the short term for reducing the poverty rate and the impact of poverty on seniors, and it can be targeted at senior singles who need it the most, (Page 23).

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

 

FAMILY: INCLUSIONARY OR EXCLUSIONARY TERM AND FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION

FAMILY:  INCLUSIONARY OR EXCLUSIONARY TERM AND FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION

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

Today, February 15, is designated Family Day in Canada and was originally created to give people time to spend with their families, but also provides a day off between New Year’s Day and Good Friday as they are approximately three months apart.

The word ‘family’  can have many different meanings.  One definition is “a fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children.” While this definition is a traditional definition, there are other family units excluded by this definition, such as couples without children or other variations on the family unit. Another definition is “two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another and reside usually in the same dwelling.”  In addition to a more universal family definition, there are many who consider a group of friends to be family, and adults who consider pets also to be members of the family unit.

The Statistics Canada definition of ‘family’ indicates there must be two persons legally living together to be defined as a family.  When census information is collated, the population is called:  “Census families and persons not in census families”.  Singles are included in the “persons not in census family” category.

For Canada Revenue Agency income tax purposes, singles are persons who have never married or whose marriage has been legally annulled.  (Those who  live with a common-law partner are not included in this category).

The word ‘family’ can be inclusionary or exclusionary depending on the closeness (or distance) of the relationship of the persons in the family unit.

It is interesting to note that present political discussions both in Canada and the USA talk about the financial decline of the ‘middle class family”.  Singles and low income are left out the discussion.  Many benefits have been given to the married/coupled persons and family units with children, but singles are generally left out of the benefits or receive less in benefits.

An example of financial discrimination in Canada is the targeted tax relief for seniors where senior singles pay no tax on $20,000 and married/coupled seniors pay no tax on $40,000.  For single seniors this amounts to only $1,700 per month, but for married/coupled seniors this amounts to approximately $3,400 per month.  Living costs are inadequately covered for singles, but are more adequately covered for married/coupled seniors.  It is a well known fact that singles require approximately 70% of living costs for married/coupled persons living together as a family unit.

The mentality of government, decision makers, businesses and families in this country is to serve only the rich and middle class families while generally ignoring singles, low income and no income individuals and families.   Families will often talk about how important the family unit is for them in regards to 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.  These disadvantaged persons are tossed out or are less important in financial  formulas and decision-making processes.

CONCLUSION

The definition of family as to whether it is inclusionary or exclusionary is in ‘the eye of the beholder’ and depends on which ‘side of the fence’ is beholder is on.   An exclusionary example is the one given above on targeted tax relief.  The financial ‘family’ by devaluing singles and low income takes on a ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ persona, or also could be said to take on an ‘about-face’ persona or doing the exact opposite where the greed of business and personal gain takes on more importance than treasured family values.

Financial fairness of singles, low income and disadvantaged would be better served if they were financially treated as equal family members instead of being financially categorized as ‘worth less’ or ‘worthless’ to the rich and married/coupled persons in financial formulas. This would give more truth to why Family Day is celebrated on this day of February 15.

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

 

ARE FAMILIES REALLY MORE FINANCIALLY INTELLIGENT IN MANAGING FINANCES?

ARE FAMILIES REALLY MORE FINANCIALLY INTELLIGENT IN MANAGING FINANCES?

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

Financial Post personal finance profile “Put Cash Toward the Kids’ Education” and in Calgary Herald on January 16, 2016 (financialpost)

The following is a condensed version of the financial profile of Harry 39, and Wendy 38, a British Columbia couple with two children ages two and a few months old.  (Question:  Did they marry later in life resulting in a low net worth at this time in their life because it is more difficult to accumulate net worth while single than as married/coupled persons?)

Their take home pay is $9,100 a month plus $240 take home universal child care benefits put into place this year by the federal government for total annual take home pay of $112,000.  They both have defined benefit retirement pension plans, so it should be noted that contributions to their plans have already been deducted before take home pay total.

Their expenses include real estate mortgage, property tax, and home repair $3,489, car costs $550, food and cleaning supplies $1,200,  clothes/grooming $150, charity/gifts $200, child care $850, entertainment $120, restaurant $280, travel $150, miscellaneous $626, utilities $350, phone/cable/internet $200, home and car insurance $325.

For savings they contribute $800 to TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account), and $50 to RESP (Registered Education Savings Program).

Their assets include house $500,000, cars $20,000, savings including RRSP Registered Retirement Savings Plan), RESP, TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) and cash $40,700.

Their net worth equals $150,700.

What they want:

  • retire at age 55
  • buy a condo for the children’s grandparents to use when they are in town and to rent out at other times

Financial Planner Analysis

  • they haven’t made wills or appointed guardians for their children
  • they have no term life insurance
  • they can’t retire at age 55, but they can retire at age 59
  • they can’t afford to buy a condo as they don’t have the money for down payment
  • they should fully contribute to their children’s education plan into order to get the government benefit

Retirement plan

  • if they retire at age 59 assuming they remain with their present employers, their total income would be $96,732 plus Harry’s $9,570 CPP(Canadian Pension Plan) and Wendy’s $12,060 CPP.
  • At age 65, with the addition of OAS (Old Age Security), their total income will be $111,146 before income tax.  There will be no clawback on OAS and with pension splitting, they will  pay only 14% income tax and have a monthly take home income of $7,965 to spend.

Other Financial Analysis By Blog Author

  • they want to retire at age 55, but their children will only be ages 15 and 16,  and their mortgage won’t be paid off until Harry is age 63.  How financially intelligent is this?
  • they are not taking advantage of ‘free’ government benefits of $500 per child by not maximizing children’s RESP.
  • Harry is an immigrant who came to Canada at age 30 (nine years ago), and he wants to retire at age 55.  He will have contributed to Canadian financial coffers for only 25 years.  If he retires at age 59 he will also get what could be a 15% tax reduction with pension splitting at age 65.  Canadian born singles and single immigrants do not get these same benefits and are subsidizing married/coupled immigrants who in many cases have taken more from the Canadian financial coffers than they have put into it.
  • with pension splitting and no clawback on OAS, they will only pay 14% income tax. Singles with equivalent pension income pay a lot more income tax.  (It is stated elsewhere in the article that Wendy’s tax rate at present time while working is 29%).
  • their food and restaurant (including some cleaning supplies) budget is over $1400 a month for two adults and two very young children (does not include entertainment budget of $180 month).  Their restaurant budget is $280 alone and yet many families think singles should live on only $200 a month for food.

Lessons Learned

  • married/coupled persons and families receive marital manna benefits while they are parents and while they are retired.  One could say the only persons who contribute fully to the Canadian tax system while getting less benefits are singles.
  • married/coupled persons and families are not any more financially intelligent at managing their finances than single persons.
  • married/coupled persons and families all want to retire at the age of 55 regardless of their financial circumstances.  Most singles do not have this option.  Why should families bringing in $9,000 a month after tax income get $240 after tax child benefits and child education benefits and, then when they retire early at age 59, also get what is probably a 15% pension splitting tax reduction resulting in take home income of $8,000 at age 65 when their children are grown up?  This is a very rich retirement income that most singles cannot aspire to.
  • Families, governments and decision makers all talk about expensive it is to raise children.  For one Canadian child, the cost is about $250,000.  So if cost is spread over 25 years of the child, cost per year is $10,000 per year, or in the case of this family $20,000 per year for two children.  Their total after tax income is almost $10,000 per month, so approximately two out of twelve months income will be spent raising their children.  The remaining income is for themselves.  Add in another month of income for the children’s education ($10,000  times 20 years equals $200,000 not including government top up) and that still leaves them with nine month of income for themselves.  So again, how expensive is it to raise children when this family has over $80,000 a year to spend on themselves?
  • When families (including married later in life) in top 40% Canadian income levels can retire at age 55 and 59, they spread the family financial myths and lie to singles, low income families, themselves, the world and God about how expensive it is to raise children and why they need income splitting and pension splitting.  Low and middle class families are paying more and getting less for government programs.  Singles of all income levels are paying even more and getting less (singles are considered to be in the upper 20% quintile of the Canadian rich with before tax income of only $55,000 and up.  Wow, that is really rich).
  • singles know that they are paying more taxes and getting less in benefits.  They also know they are subsidizing families when they work 35, 40 years without using mom/baby hospital resources,don’t use EI benefits at same level as families for parental leave, and don’t get marital manna benefits during retirement.
  • singles know they have been financially discriminated against by being left out of government financial formulas and are not seen as financial equals to married/coupled persons.

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