Low Income Seniors’ Benefit

Newfoundland and Labrador

Low Income Seniors’ Benefit

More Than 40,000 to Receive Low Income Seniors’ Benefit

More than 40,000 seniors in the province will receive the Low Income Seniors’ Benefit this month, the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, announced today. The benefit is a refundable tax credit paid to low income seniors, even if they have no tax payable.

“Our government is committed to supporting seniors in our province through a number of investments in recent years, one of which is an enhanced Low Income Seniors’ Benefit,” said Minister Kennedy. “Early in our mandate, our government indexed the Seniors’ Benefit and enhanced both the credit amounts and the qualifying income thresholds. Further investments were made in the 2007 and 2008 budgets. As a result, this year a single senior or couple can receive a benefit of $798, as compared to $350 for a single senior and $700 for senior couples in 2003. In addition, more families are qualifying for the benefit.”

The qualifying income threshold for this benefit has increased from $14,000 in 2003 to $25,983 in 2009. A single senior, or married couple, with income up to $32,827 would be eligible for a partial benefit. These expansions to the Seniors’ Benefit bring the total investment to $28 million annually.

It is estimated that approximately 33,000 seniors or senior couples will receive the full benefit of $798. An additional 7,000 seniors or senior couples will receive a partial benefit, depending on their income level. The benefit is reduced by 11.66 per cent of income greater than $25,983.

“An additional 10,000 seniors will qualify for the Seniors’ Benefit this year, as compared to 2003, which is significant,” said Minister Kennedy. “In addition, our government recognizes that the cost of living for a single senior is not substantially different from the cost of living for a married senior couple, which is why the same benefit is available to both single seniors and couples.”

The first cheques will be in the mail today, along with GST/HST credit payments. Individuals with direct deposit to bank accounts will receivetheir benefit today as well. In order to qualify for the benefit, a person must be 65 years of age by December 31 of the taxation year. The benefit is paid in October of each year and is included in the same cheque as the GST/HST credit. The amount of the credit is based on family net income from the previous year. No application is required. However, individuals must ensure that their annual income tax return is filed.

An enhanced Low Income Seniors’ Benefit is one of the ways the Provincial Government is investing to support seniors in the province. In 2007, income tax changes were made to allow married pensioners to split pension income with their spouses, allowing many pensioners the opportunity to reduce both provincial and federal income taxes. The Williams Government has also implemented tax reductions, resulting in the province having the lowest personal income tax rates in Atlantic Canada. In addition, the home heating rebate has been increased, the RST has been eliminated on insurance premiums, motor vehicle registration fees have been reduced, the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program has been enhanced, and there have been significant investments in Newfoundland Labrador Housing.