NDP MP calls out feds for issuing 'unconscionable' tax form for seniors' bus pass

NDP MP calls out feds for issuing 'unconscionable' tax form for seniors' bus pass

Vancouver East NDP MP Jenny Kwan says low-income seniors are being "penny pinched" by a new federal tax policy.

Seniors in B.C. whose incomes are under $24,000 are eligible for an annual bus pass at a cost of only $45.

As of this year, low-income seniors will have to report the $579 value of the subsidized bus pass as income on their 2018 tax return.

"I have to ask the question: why are they going after low-income seniors," Kwan asked. "The bus pass is a very important thing for them that will help them get out into the community so they don't become shut-ins."

The income shown on the T5007 tax slip isn't taxable and doesn't affect seniors' eligibility for income support or what they pay for subsidized housing.

However, the amount is used to calculate what provincial and federal tax credits they are entitled to.

Kwan says this could lower the amount low-income seniors receive as part of the GST credit, the B.C. Climate Action credit, the sales tax credit, and in cases where seniors are guardians, the Canada Child Benefit.

She claims, for a senior couple, this could mean their credits are reduced by $130 in total.

"For a senior who is on a low fixed income, every dollar, every cent counts and especially at a time when the cost of living is going up," said Kwan.

"To scrape away the little tax credits they do get from both the federal government and provincial government to me is unconscionable."

The NPD MP worries other subsidies would eventually be included on the T5007 slip and is asking the federal government to reverse the change.