Federal Budget Introduces Transit Tax Credit

Crossposted to Spacing’s Wire

The first budget of the newly-elected Conservative government, introduced yesterday, contained enough spending measures and promises to fix the so-called fiscal imbalance that it secured the support of the Bloc Quebecois and will likely pass. Among the measures is a tax credit, allowing commuters to claim back up to 15.5% back on any monthly pass purchase. This applies to all transit agencies nationwide, including the TTC and GO Transit.

The Star has more details. For TTC users purchasing a $99.75 monthly pass, it’s like receiving $15.46 cash back per Metropass at the end of the year. Students and seniors are entitled to the same tax credit for their Metropasses, although critics have noted that a number of students don’t pay taxes anyway, and won’t receive the benefit.

Although this does not increase funding to the TTC and GO Transit, transit activist Steve Munro notes that this significantly lowers the break-even point where purchasing monthly passes makes sense; in the case of the TTC, the cost of a Metropass has been reduced from 47.5 full adult fares to 40 fares. The fact that this could increase ridership while netting the TTC no money to service that ridership has been criticized by councillors like Joe Mihevc, who suggests that under the tax credit, the TTC could consider raising the cost of the Metropass to try and put some of that money into new buses (this idea has since been set aside).

The tax credit only applies to monthly passes, not day passes, weekly passes, tokens or cash fares — which is probably something of a relief to ticket takers, saving them from having to issue a receipt every time somebody drops a toonie into the farebox.

The federal government also promised $1.3 billion in support of public transit infrastructure, including $505 million to Ontario which will likely be used to fund the Spadina subway’s extension to Jane and Highway 7 in Vaughan. The previous government’s pledges to transfer portions of the gas tax to municipalies over the next four years were also maintained. All told, this was enough to lead Michael Roschlau, president of the Canadian Urban Transit Association, to claim that this was good budget for public transit.