Prior to the budget’s release, we asked advisors for a wish list of items they’d like to see included in the document. Many got their wishes granted, and now that the Commons has moved on to parsing its contents, we asked those same advisors to tell us where they thought the budget did, and didn’t, deliver.

Best measures

“The issue of underwater stock options had sparked intense lobbying, especially in the high-tech sector, by employees who face significant tax bills on money they never received. The 2010 Federal Budget proposed a number of measures to specifically deal with this issue, the most important of which is a new special elective tax treatment to ensure the tax liability on a deferred stock option benefit won’t exceed the fair market value of the shares being sold.”

  • Tina Tehranchian, MA, CFP, CLU, Ch.F.C., branch manager and financial advisor, Assante Capital Management Ltd.

    “Providing relief for thousands of employees who exercised stock options and who faced massive tax bills on phantom profits when the share prices subsequently tanked.”

  • Jamie Golombek, CA, CPA, CFP, CLU, TEP, managing director, tax & estate planning, CIBC Private Wealth Management

    “I am impressed with the changes to the RDSP and how that product has now become a must-have, but only for the very few families that would qualify. There are now very significant estate-planning issues for these families. In particular, is the use of the Henson Trust still the best route to pursue? Probably not.”

  • Bruce Cumming, CFP, RFP, CLU, Ch.F.C., RHU, CIM, TEP, EPC, FCSI, president, Cumming & Cumming Wealth Management

    “The two best things in the budget were the closing of loopholes on stock options (the so-called double deduction) for employees who get them. That was a sore spot for cynical people. The other good thing for client-centred advisors is the continued signalling of the government’s determination to press ahead with a single national securities regulator.”

  • John De Goey, CFP, vice-president, Burgeonvest Securities Ltd.

    “I have a tie. First it seems to me that Canada may be one of the few countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that has a credible plan to eliminate its current structural deficit. I consider that a huge positive. Tied with that is the commitment to stick with corporate tax reductions so that by 2012 our blended provincial/federal rate will be 25%, the lowest in the OECD. Both of these measures make Canada a very attractive place for businesses to establish themselves and create both jobs and wealth.”

  • John Nicola, CEO and chairman, Nicola Wealth Management

    Worst measures

    “A lack of changes to the RRSP/RRIF system that could have permitted pension splitting at age 55, higher RRIF conversion age and lower RRIF minimum withdrawal rates.”

  • Jamie Golombek

    “The worst thing in the budget is the raising of payroll taxes to the tune of $13 billion. It hurts small businesses the most; even though small businesses are the primary drivers of job creation. There are a few things that weren’t in the budget that I am dismayed about. There’s no tax recalibration from consumption to income. I would have liked to see a revenue-neutral increase in GST/HST that was offset by a reduction in personal income taxes. Also, no RRSP limit increase and no retroactive TFSA contribution room. For advisors who help clients plan, these would have been helpful.”

  • John De Goey

    “For those who were considering cosmetic surgery, liposuction, teeth whitening, hair transplants or Botox injections, and hoping that the expenses would be eligible for the Medical Expense Tax Credit, it may be too late. The budget attempted to clarify the intent of the rules by stating that expenses incurred for purely cosmetic procedures (including related services and other expenses such as travel) are ineligible to be claimed under the Medical Expense Tax Credit.”

  • Tina Tehranchian

    “My biggest disappointment in the budget is the fact that no action has been taken on pension reform. I consider this a priority given the combination of an aging population and a challenging environment in which to earn investment returns.”

  • John Nicola

    “On the bad side, really nothing. Some of our wish list items might have been nice but given what Flaherty had to work with, he did a pretty darn good job.”

  • Bruce Cumming