On March 20, 2018, Finance and Treasury Board Minister Karen Casey tabled Nova Scotia’s 2018-19 budget (Budget 2018). This budget represents the third balanced budget in a row that has been presented by Nova Scotia’s Liberal government and, while it provides no major tax changes at the personal or corporate levels, it outlines the province’s commitment to investing in health care, education, early years, communities and inclusive economic growth.
The government is projecting surpluses over the next four fiscal years as follows:
|2017 - 18||$23.2 million|
|2018 - 19||$29.4 million|
|2019 - 20||$39.1 million|
|2020 - 21||$60.9 million|
|2021 - 22||$75.0 million
The province’s debt levels are projected to remain relatively consistent over the next four years, with net debt levels increasing from $15.05 billion in 2017-18 to $15.53 billion in 2021-22.
Basic personal, spousal and eligible dependent amounts
Budget 2018 reconfirms the province’s commitment to enhancing the basic personal amount, the spousal amount and the amount for an eligible dependant from $8,481 to $11,481. The maximum benefit is available to individuals with taxable income under $25,000; individuals with taxable income between $25,000 and $75,000 will see their benefit reduced at a rate of $0.06 per additional dollar of taxable income and those with taxable income above $75,000 will not receive any benefit. This enhancement came into effect on January 1, 2018.
Caregiver Benefit Program
As part of Budget 2018, the province has formalized its commitment to expand the existing Caregiver Benefit Program, which currently provides $400 per month to individuals providing 20 hours or more per week of unpaid care to an adult with very high care needs.
In order to provide for greater access to the program, the eligibility criteria will be expanded and those caring for individuals with a combination of the following needs may now be eligible:
- Moderate to significant memory loss
- Problems with decision-making and communication
- High level of physical impairment
- Many challenges in managing personal needs
- Serious behavioural problems
- High risk of falls
- High risk of long-term care placement
The government has also indicated that it intends to expand eligibility for this program even further and the second phase of expansion will take place in the spring of 2019.
Innovation Equity Tax Credit
Beginning January 1, 2019, a new Innovation Equity Tax Credit will be introduced. Under the current equity tax credit program, those who are considered to be eligible investors may qualify for a personal tax credit equal to 35% of their investment, to a maximum credit amount of $17,500.
Budget 2018 does not contain any details relating to the new Innovation Equity Tax Credit, but notes that the new credit will be structured with a more narrow focus and contain a threshold that is consistent with similar programs in other provinces. The existing Equity Tax Credit will be phased out over time.