Nine important under-the-radar changes in Canada's 2014 federal budget: Mike Moffatt

Beer, bridges and bitcoin

Craft beer: One of the under-the-radar changes to the 2014 federal budget is aimed at reducing red-tape for craft brewers.

Craft beer: One of the under-the-radar changes to the 2014 federal budget is aimed at reducing red-tape for craft brewers.

There are a few headline-grabbing provisions unveiled in today’s Economic Action Plan 2014, including increased taxes on tobacco products and an additional $500 million for the government’s automotive innovation fund. There are a number of important provisions, however, that are likely to go unnoticed.

The Good

  1. This budget vastly simplifies the process under which Canadians can obtain GST/HST credits. Rather than filing a separate application, the Canada Revenue Agency will make the necessary determinations based on an individual’s income tax filing.
  2. The government has announced they will modernize a number of regulations including provisions in the Food and Drugs Regulations that place unnecessary red tape on the craft brewing industry.
  3. An additional $470 million has been committed to the Detroit-Windsor crossing which will help battered southwestern Ontario exporters get their goods to market.

The Bad

  1. Other than eliminating the tariff on mobile offshore drilling units and removing a provision that exempts the Governor General from paying tariffs, this budget contains no tariff relief for Canadians.
  2. The 2014 budget announces that the government will introduce “legislation to prohibit unjustified cross-border price discrimination to reduce the gap between consumer prices in Canada and the United States,” but gives no indication what this legislation may include. I cannot fathom how the government will “prohibit” this without introducing 1970s-style price controls.
  3. The budget further clogs the tax code with boutique tax credits, including ones for search and rescue volunteers.

The Uncertain

  1. The budget “proposes” to alter intellectual property laws, including the Patent Act, Trade-marks Act and the Industrial Design Act, though few details are given beyond modernizing these with a number of international treaties.
  2. The government plans to introduce regulations for over-the-counter derivatives. Historically financial products are regulated at the provincial, not the federal, level.
  3. The budget proposes extending the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act to virtural currencies and online casinos. Depending on the scope of these changes, it may make it more difficult for Canadians to use Bitcoin or transfer money into (and out of) online casinos.