From a tax perspective, the headline news is that Budget 2018 completes the Government of Canada’s general retreat from the astounding – and, to many in the tax community, largely incoherent – July Proposals to address passive investment income in private corporations.
The revised measures introduced on December 13, 2017, dealing with the expansion of the tax on split income rules, while clearer and more measured, were not without flaws. Some feared that Budget 2018 may reintroduce the rules addressing surplus stripping, which were taken off the table in mid-October. Those fears were unfounded.
Budget 2018 completes the retreat: the proposed rules governing passive investment income earned in private corporations do not bear any resemblance to the measures contained in the July Proposals. The Minister of Finance and his team should be commended for recognizing the serious problems with the July Proposals, and for addressing them effectively.
The remaining tax measures in Budget 2018 are, for the most part, either modest fixes of anti-avoidance rules in several areas, including international taxation, financial instruments and financial markets, and charities, or a reworking of social measures to make them more generous and accessible.
On the expenditure side, Budget 2018 presents a broad vision of gender equality, innovation and reconciliation, with a full panoply of programs and expenditures to address these themes.
One senses an election.