Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the Department of Finance Canada and other related matters.

General Information

What is the role of the Department of Finance Canada?

What is the role of the Canada Revenue Agency?

What is the budget?

How can I find out when the next federal budget will be tabled?

What is the Economic and Fiscal Update?

How can I contact the Minister of Finance?

Where can I find a list of Ministers of Finance of Canada?

How can I find a telephone number for a Department of Finance Canada employee?

Where can I get information about employment with the Department of Finance Canada?

How can I sign up for the electronic mailing list of your publications?

Where can I get more information about Canada Savings Bonds?

How can I get information about my own personal income tax situation or change my address for my tax returns or refunds?

Does the Department of Finance Canada provide financial assistance to businesses or organizations?

I would like to register my business and/or obtain licences for my business.

I am looking for the status of a parliamentary bill.

Is the Department of Finance Canada the same institution as the Ministry of Finance?

What is this year's Employment Insurance rate?

I am having a problem with my Employment Insurance benefits. Can the Department of Finance Canada help me?

How can I obtain a copy of the Income Tax Act?

Can the Department of Finance Canada help me with my Canada Pension Plan benefits?

Can the Department of Finance Canada help me with my student loan?

E-Mail Fraud Warnings

Taxation

What taxes are levied by the Government of Canada?

How much revenue does the Government of Canada raise through its various taxes?

How do Canada's tax levels compare to those of other countries?

What are the respective responsibilities of the Department of Finance Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency in the area of taxation?

Where can I find information on tax support for specific groups such as families, seniors, homeowners, students, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal people, businesses and self-employed individuals?

Where can I find information about benefits to individuals such as the GST/HST credit, the Canada Child Tax Benefit, the Universal Child Care Benefit and the Working Income Tax Benefit?

Where can I find information on the Medical Expense Tax Credit?

Where can I find information about the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Incentive Program for Canadian Businesses?

Where can I find information about tax rates?

Where can I find information about excise duties on cigarettes and alcohol?

Where can I find information about tax treaties?

What are the current automobile deduction limits and expense benefit rates for business?

Financial Services

Improvements to Life Income Funds (LIFs)

Where can I get information about bank regulations?

What is Canada doing about money laundering?

I want to verify the legitimacy of a financial institution.

I am having problems with a Canadian financial institution. Who should I contact?

International Relations

What is the G-20 and how is Canada involved?

- Top of Page -

General Information

What is the role of the Department of Finance Canada?

The Department of Finance Canada is the federal department primarily responsible for providing the Government of Canada with analysis and advice on the broad economic and financial affairs of Canada.

Its responsibilities include:

  • Preparing the federal budget.
  • Preparing tax and tariff legislation.
  • Managing federal borrowing on financial markets.
  • Administering major federal transfers to the provinces and territories.
  • Developing regulatory policy for the financial sector.
  • Representing Canada within international financial institutions.

For more information on the roles and responsibilities of the Department, visit the About Finance Canada and Our Branches webpages.

What is the role of the Canada Revenue Agency?

The Canada Revenue Agency, which falls under the purview of the Minister of National Revenue, is responsible for Canadian tax administration. Its responsibilities include assessing and collecting taxes and levies, and delivering social and economic benefits, such as the Goods and Services Tax Credit, through the tax system on behalf of the Government of Canada.

For more information, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website.

- Top of Page -

What is the budget?

The budget, which is usually presented annually, is the statement by the Minister of Finance setting out the federal government's projected revenues and expenditures—sometimes called fiscal projections—and the resulting surplus or deficit. It also contains an overview of the Government's economic projections and sets out fiscal policy for the period ahead. To read recent federal budget publications, visit the Department of Finance Canada Federal Budget webpage.

- Top of Page -

How can I find out when the next federal budget will be tabled?

Budget dates are announced on the News Releases page on the Department of Finance Canada website. If you would like to receive automatic e-mail notification of news releases or of the posting of a new budget, please visit the E-Mail Alert Registration Form.

- Top of Page -

What is the Economic and Fiscal Update?

The Economic and Fiscal Update provides an annual update on the national economic and federal fiscal situation leading to the budget-planning process. It can be the base document for pre-budget consultations.

- Top of Page -

How can I contact the Minister of Finance?

Visit the Minister of Finance webpage .

- Top of Page -

Where can I find a list of Ministers of Finance of Canada?

This information is available on the Minister of Finance webpage.

- Top of Page -

How can I find a telephone number for a Department of Finance Canada employee?

Visit the Government Electronic Directory Services webpage , which provides a directory of federal public servants for all regions across Canada, including the Department of Finance Canada.

- Top of Page -

Where can I get information about employment with the Department of Finance Canada?

Every year, the Department of Finance Canada conducts a university recruitment campaign. To find out more, visit the University Recruitment sectionof our website. Other employment opportunities in the Government of Canada are available on the Public Service Commission of Canada website.

- Top of Page -

How can I sign up for the electronic mailing list of your publications?

You may sign up for electronic e-mail alerts on the E-Mail Alert Registration Form.

- Top of Page -

Where can I get more information about Canada Savings Bonds?

For information about Canada Savings Bonds and Canada Premium Bonds, you can contact Canada Investment and Savings by telephone at 1-800-575-5151, TTY (teletypewriter) only 1-800-354-2222; by fax at 613-782-8096; or by e-mail at csb@csb.gc.ca. You can also visit the Canada Savings Bonds website.

- Top of Page -

How can I get information about my own personal income tax situation or change my address for my tax returns or refunds?

Department of Finance Canada officials do not have access to taxpayers' files. These are the responsibility of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which administers the tax system and falls under the purview of the Minister of National Revenue. To find out more about your personal income tax situation or to make changes to your income tax file, a good place to start is the CRA's website.

There you will find:

  • General information, forms and publications.
  • The CRA's office addresses and phone numbers.
  • A new secure electronic service, located on the CRA's My Account for Individuals webpage, which allows you to view some of your personalized information.

- Top of Page -

Does the Department of Finance Canada provide financial assistance to businesses or organizations?

The Department of Finance Canada is a policy department and, as such, does not administer assistance programs for businesses or organizations. The Government of Canada department that may be able to provide information about financial assistance depends on the nature of your request. These links may be helpful: the Government of Canada Contact Us or the Canada Business Network webpage. You can also call 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232) or 1-800-926-9105 (TTY).

- Top of Page -

I  would like to register my business and/or obtain licences for my business.

The Department of Finance Canada is a policy department and, as such, does not administer programs for businesses. Please visit the Industry Canada website for information on federal programs for businesses.

You may also visit the Canada Revenue Agency's Business Registration Online webpage or contact your provincial government.

- Top of Page -

I am looking for the status of a parliamentary bill.

This information is available on the Parliament of Canada LEGISinfo webpage.

- Top of Page -

Is the Department of Finance Canada the same institution as the Ministry of Finance?

No. The Department of Finance Canada is a federal government department whereas the Ministry of Finance is a department in several provinces. A list of provincial and territorial departments responsible for finances is provided below.

- Top of Page -

What is this year's employment insurance rate?

This information is available on the Canada Revenue Agency's EI premium rates and maximums webpage.

- Top of Page -

I am having a problem with my employment insurance benefits. Can the Department of Finance Canada help me?

The administration of the Employment Insurance (EI) benefit system is the responsibility of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). Information on EI is available on HRSDC's Employment Insurance webpage.

- Top of Page -

How can I obtain a copy of the Income Tax Act?

Neither the Canada Revenue Agency nor the Department of Finance Canada publishes the Income Tax Act in print or electronically. Technically, it is "published" by Parliament in the form of bills that are enacted. In practice, however, it is a major task to keep the Act current because it is amended frequently. Therefore, it is left to commercial publishers such as Carswell, Commerce Clearing House, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and Ernst & Young to consolidate the Act (about 2,000 pages).

Should you wish to obtain a copy of the Act, you may consider contacting one of those publishers directly or you can check with a bookstore. As well, most public libraries carry the publication in their collections. The Department of Justice Canada also has a version on its Income Tax Act webpage.

- Top of Page -

Can the Department of Finance Canada help me with my Canada Pension Plan benefits?

The administration of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefit system is the responsibility of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). Information on the CPP is available on HRSDC's website.

- Top of Page -

Can the Department of Finance Canada help me with my student loan?

The administration of the federal student loans system is the responsibility of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). You can obtain more information on HRSDC's Canada Student Loans and Grants webpage.

- Top of Page -

E-Mail Fraud Warnings

In December 2006 many Canadians began receiving a fraudulent e-mail claiming to have been sent by the Department of Finance and offering a tax refund if confidential personal information were provided.  When these were brought to the Department's attention, we immediately notified appropriate law enforcement authorities and posted a fraud warning on the Main page of the Finance Canada website. Although the source of the fraudulent e-mails was shut down quickly, our alert remained on our website's Main page for more than a month to ensure that as many Canadians as possible were warned that the e-mail did not come from Finance Canada and told they should not provide the personal information sought in the e-mails. If such an incident occurs again, we will post a warning immediately.

- Top of Page -

Taxation

What taxes are levied by the Government of Canada?

The Government of Canada's main tax bases are:

  • Personal income tax;
  • Corporate income tax;
  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST);
  • Excise taxes on gasoline and other motive fuels; and
  • Excise duties on tobacco products, spirits, wine and beer.

- Top of Page -

How much revenue does the Government of Canada raise through its various taxes?

According to the Annual Financial Report of the Government of Canada 2013-14, total tax revenues amounted to $219.9 billion in 2013-14. The relevant section of the publication is available on the Department of Finance Canada website. This section includes Table 5, which shows a breakdown by revenue source (e.g., personal income tax, corporate income tax, GST, etc.).

- Top of Page -

How do Canada's tax levels compare to those of other countries?

According to the 2013 edition of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's report, Revenue Statistics, in 2011, the most recent year for which the publication presents comparable statistics, Canada's total federal-provincial/territorial-local tax burden was 30.4 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product. This places Canada as having the third lowest tax burden of the Group of Seven (G-7) countries, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Among the G-7, France had the highest total tax burden at 44.1 per cent, and the United States had the lowest at 24 per cent.

- Top of Page -

What are the respective responsibilities of the Department of Finance Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency in the area of taxation?

The Department of Finance Canada is responsible for developing and evaluating federal taxation policies and legislation. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is responsible for interpreting tax law, as well as for assessing and collecting taxes and levies. The CRA also delivers federal benefits such as the Canada Child Tax Benefit.  Information about tax support for individuals and businesses is available on the CRA website.

- Top of Page -

Where can I find information on tax support for specific groups such as families, seniors, homeowners, students, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal people, businesses and self-employed individuals?

Tax information for specific groups is available on the Canada Revenue Agency website.

- Top of Page -

Where can I find information about benefits to individuals such as the GST/HST credit, the Canada Child Tax Benefit, the Universal Child Care Benefit and the Working Income Tax Benefit?

Information about benefits to individuals is available on the Canada Revenue Agency website under the “Benefit payments” heading.

- Top of Page -

Where can I find information on the Medical Expense Tax Credit?

Information about the Medical Expense Tax Credit, including a list of the most common medical expenses that can be claimed, is available on the Canada Revenue Agency's Medical Expense Tax Credit webpage.

- Top of Page -

Where can I find information about the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Incentive Program for Canadian Businesses?

Information about the SR&ED program, including eligibility requirements and application procedures, is available on the Canada Revenue Agency's SR&ED Tax Incentive Program webpage.

- Top of Page -

Where can I find information about tax rates?

The All Rates webpage on the Canada Revenue Agency website contains links to information about personal income tax rates and brackets, corporate tax rates, and rates for the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax and excise taxes.

- Top of Page -

Where can I find information about excise duties on cigarettes and alcohol?

Detailed information on excise duty rates applying to beer, or to spirits, wine and tobacco products can be found on the Canada Revenue Agency website.

- Top of Page -

Where can I find information about tax treaties?

Notices of tax treaty developments are available on the Department of Finance Canada website.

- Top of Page -

What are the current automobile deduction limits and expense benefit rates for business?

Refer to the Department of Finance Canada's news release announcing the 2014 automobile deduction limits and expense benefit rates for business.

- Top of Page -

Financial Services

Improvements to Life Income Funds (LIFs)

- News Release 2008-037 - 

Who can unlock funds?

  • Anyone 55 and older; or
  • Anyone facing financial hardship from two sources:
1) Low income

2) High medical costs or disability-related costs relative to income

When can I unlock my funds?

With the coming into force of these regulations, those with existing contracts will be able to unlock their funds as soon as their financial intermediary can make the necessary amendments.

To unlock the funds, the application must be made to the financial institutions where the funds are held.

How much can I unlock?

In the year they turn 55, or afterward, people will be allowed to transfer 50 per cent of their funds into a tax-deferred vehicle, from which they can withdraw cash.

In addition, people whose total locked-in holdings are below the minimum threshold—$22,450 in 2008—or who face financial hardship will also be able to unlock funds.

Where can I obtain the forms required to unlock the funds in my Life Income Fund?

These forms will become available from financial intermediaries that offer LIFs and locked-in Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs).

If you currently have a LIF or locked-in RRSP, the necessary forms can be obtained from the financial intermediary that holds your LIF or locked-in RRSP contract.

Financial intermediaries and other interested parties can also obtain copies of the necessary forms, which are included as Annexes to the Pension Benefits Standards Regulations, 1985 in Schedule V, Forms 1, 2, and 3.

Any other forms required as part of contractual arrangements would be supplied by the financial intermediary.

Why can't I take advantage of these changes without purchasing a new locked-in fund or amending my existing contract?

The terms and conditions for the unlocking of funds held in federally regulated locked-in RRSPs and LIFs are set down in contracts between the offering institutions and the individuals that hold them.

The federal government's role is to provide certain standard rules governing the withdrawal of funds.

The new rules require that all new contracts contain new flexibility options to unlock the funds under certain conditions.

However, the federal government will not intervene to change existing contracts signed before the new rules took effect.

Therefore, people with LIFs or locked-in RRSP contracts who wish to unlock them should contact their financial intermediary—either to purchase a new, more flexible contract or amend their old contract.

Those who do not wish to use this new flexibility are under no obligation to purchase a new contract or amend their old contract.

Will these changes affect provincially regulated pensions?

These changes will only affect those funds that are regulated federally.

Will these changes affect the pensions of those who were or are employed by the Government of Canada?

These measures only affect those individuals who have transferred their pension credits out of their pension plan.

However, the Treasury Board Secretariat is responsible for matters relating to pensions for federal government employees. Therefore, questions about the application of these amendments to federal government employees should be directed to the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Do funds become taxable if they are unlocked?

Yes, but only if they are withdrawn.

Withdrawals from all tax-deferred vehicles are taxable under the Income Tax Act or other legislation. People should seek professional advice about their tax implications before making such withdrawals.

Direct transfers of funds from one tax-deferred vehicle to another are not taxable under the Income Tax Act.

An example of this would be unlocking funds from a Restricted Life Income Fund (RLIF) and placing the proceeds into an RRSP.

Does unlocking funds affect the protection these funds receive from creditors?

Yes, regardless of whether they are withdrawn or not.

Funds that are unlocked—even if they are only transferred to an unlocked tax-deferred vehicle such as an RRSP or Registered Retirement Income Fund—will lose the protection from creditors provided to locked-in funds.

Has anything been done to protect the interests of the spouses or common-law partners of individuals?

Yes.

Those who wish to unlock funds will be required to provide an attestation of assent to this transfer from a spouse or common-law partner.

If they do not have a spouse or common-law partner, they must provide an attestation to this effect.

Can I take my pension credits out of my pension, put them in an RLIF, and unlock half the value?

The new rules do not affect a plan member's ability to transfer pension benefit credits out of the plan. The right to do so under certain circumstances is set out in federal pension legislation and may also be permitted by the terms of the pension plan. Where a member has the ability to transfer a pension benefit credit out of the plan, the new rules do permit the pension benefit credit to be transferred into an RLIF, from which half of the value can be unlocked.

What is YMPE? How do I find it out in the future?

The YMPE (Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings) is the maximum amount of earnings on which contributions to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) are based.

You can get information on the CPP pensionable earnings ceiling from the Canada Revenue Agency's What's new for payroll webpage.

Can I combine both a 50 per cent unlocking with a small balance extraordinary withdrawal?

Yes.

I have two LIFs. Can I unlock them separately?

Yes, provided all other legislative and regulatory requirements are met.

Can financial intermediaries charge penalties for unlocking early?

Institutions may, at their own discretion, charge transfer fees for LIFs and other such products. Individuals should consult the financial institution that holds their Life Income Fund or locked-in RRSP contract.

- Top of Page -

Where can I get information about bank regulations?

You can get this information from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI). OSFI regulates financial institutions and employer-employee pension plans under federal jurisdiction, contributes to public confidence in the Canadian financial system and protects depositors, policyholders, pension plan beneficiaries and creditors from undue loss. It maintains a comprehensive supervisory framework aimed at determining whether financial institutions and pension plans are in sound financial condition and in compliance with statutory requirements. For more information, visit the OSFI website.

- Top of Page -

What is Canada doing about money laundering?

Money laundering is the process by which "dirty money" generated by criminal activities is converted into assets that cannot be easily traced back to their illegal origins. A significant proportion is linked to profits from the illicit drug trade, but proceeds from other crimes, including burglaries and cigarette smuggling, are also involved. Money laundering, when carried out through financial institutions, could have an adverse effect on their reputations. It is a serious criminal offence.

Money laundering is global in scope, making international co-operation and co-ordination essential to its deterrence and detection. Canada is an active member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), created by G-7 leaders in 1989 to develop standards for combatting money laundering and to promote their implementation worldwide. In 2001, the mandate of the FATF was broadened to include the fight against terrorist financing.

Consistent with FATF standards, Canada implemented the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA). The PCMLTFA provides law enforcement with additional tools to help in their investigations into organized crime, money laundering and terrorist financing.

The PCMLTFA requires financial institutions and intermediaries to report terrorist property and suspicious transactions—where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that they are related to money laundering or terrorist financing—to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). The PCMLTFA also requires them to report large cash transactions, large international electronic funds transfers, and the movement of large amounts of currency and monetary instruments (traveller's cheques, money orders, etc.) across Canada's borders, and to meet record-keeping and client identification obligations. Once FINTRAC has analyzed information and is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that it would be relevant to a criminal investigation, FINTRAC discloses the information to law enforcement.

The PCMLTFA is currently under review to ensure consistency with the revised international standards that have been developed by the FATF and with legislation already in place in most industrialized countries around the world.

- Top of Page -

I  want to verify the legitimacy of a financial institution.

You may visit the website of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions or contact them by telephone at 613-943-3950, TTY: 613-943-3980 (toll-free: 1-800-385-8647).

- Top of Page -

I  am having problems with a Canadian financial institution. Who should I contact?

For consumer-related questions, visit the website of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). The FCAC provides consumer information and oversees financial institutions to ensure that they comply with federal consumer protection measures.

- Top of Page -

International Relations

What is the G-20 and how is Canada involved?

The purpose of the G-20 is to ensure broader participation in discussions on international financial affairs among countries that play a particularly crucial role in the global economy.

The G-20 consists of finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 industrialized and emerging market countries. The members are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. The G-20 also includes representatives from the European Central Bank and the Bretton Woods institutions (the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) and their policy committees. The G-20 was created in September 1999, at which time the Minister of Finance for Canada was chosen to serve as chair for the first two years.

For the latest information about the G-20, consult the official G-20 website.