Ineffective Sport Participation Tax Credits: A Letter in the Windsor Star
by Adam Goodwin | 2015 | Last Updated: August 13, 2015
The National Post
Windsor Star Letter
On July 6, 2015, a letter I penned to the Windsor Star was published.
Image of Letter from Website
This is a screenshot (with the URL) of part of the letter appearing on the Windsor Star‘s website.
This is a screenshot of the full letter.
The letter can be accessed by visiting: http://blogs.windsorstar.com/open-newsroom/letters/end-ineffective-tax-credits
Text of the Letter
If you are unable to access the screenshot above or the URL, the published text of part of letter is:
With Canada receiving a failing grade in most global report cards in the area of youth sport participation, governments, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders have been introducing interventions to stimulate participation.
The Children’s Fitness Tax Credit is one intervention introduced by the federal government in 2006. Families can now claim $1,000, up from $500, per child for fees paid towards organized physical activity/sport programs that meet certain criteria.
The government, taxpayers hope, had good intentions with the program.
However, most research shows that the tax credit is ineffective at fulfilling its core mission — stimulating youth physical activity levels and sport participation rates. Certain segments of Canadians do benefit from the tax credit.
The reason a high percentage of the population does not benefit is complex.
Firstly, the credit is only a rebate of approximately $75 per child (this is based on when the credit limit was $500).
Is this a large enough rebate to encourage families that do not register their children in programs to begin to register their children?
To benefit from the credit, a family must first have the funds to spend on the registration fees. Secondly, using an example of a program that starts in January, the family must have the financial capacity to wait 14 months (pay in January, and tax refunds typically do not arrive until the following March-May) to receive the credit.
Many families do not. Add in factors such as single parent families, education level, geography, and access to infrastructure, and the complexity increases quickly.
Youth sport participation in Canada is socially stratified — the higher a family’s socioeconomic status, the higher the likelihood that the kids participate in sport.
Instead of tax credits that benefit a portion of the population that least requires this incentive, the government must find new ways to support and invest in sporting opportunities that benefit all of Canada’s youth — not just those born into a family that has the capital necessary to pay the increasingly more expensive youth registration fees.
The first remedy: Get rid of the tax credits touted in the new ads. These are not effective.
We must find ways to work with community sport organizations, municipal recreation centres, and private sport providers to deliver to all what is a part of the cultural and social fabric in most areas of Canada — sport.
ADAM GOODWIN, Windsor
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