How is the tax system unfair?
There are several major advantages that senior couples have over senior singles:
Pension income splitting: Allows someone to transfer up to 50% of their pension income to their spouse. By doing so, one or both of them may fall into a lower tax bracket. On top of this, their lowered tax bracket may allow them to qualify for more senior benefits such as OAS and the non-refundable age amount tax credit.
RRIF/RRSP transfer: When a spouse dies, the RRIF/RRSP of that person can be transferred to the surviving spouse.
Non-refundable tax credits: Couples can claim double non-refundable tax credits – personal, age, pension income amounts, etc. – reducing their total tax payable. Couples can also transfer certain unused non-refundable tax credits, including the age and pension income amounts, to a spouse, reducing their total tax payable.
Single seniors have no similar tax breaks. Considering that financial planners have concluded that a single senior requires up to 70% of the income of a couple to maintain the same lifestyle, this is extremely unfair
2023 Finance Committee report
See Recommendation 115 on examining the measures available to seniors to ensure equitable treatment between single seniors and senior couples
Read more about the issue
How can the tax system be corrected?
To promote fairness, we recommend the following:
Recommendation 1: That the government implement a tax provision for single seniors to offset the considerable reduction in tax payable by couples applying for pension income splitting.
Recommendation 2: That the government implement a new single senior non-refundable tax credit equivalent to half of the personal amount for the applicable taxation year, e.g., 7,500 in 2023
Recommendation 3: That the government increase the pension income amount from 2,000 to 3,000 for single seniors.
Recommendation 4: That the government increase the income clawback thresholds for Old Age Security and for the age amount non-refundable tax credit for single seniors.
Recommendation 5: That the government amend the tax treatment of registered plan proceeds on the death of a single senior to allow a tax-deferred rollover to any beneficiary (regardless of relationship to the deceased) with the proviso that the proceeds be paid out, and taxable to that beneficiary, over a maximum of ten (10) years. Should the beneficiary die before the end of the ten years, the balance would be fully taxable in the year of death of that beneficiary.