Back on Sept. 27, 2011, a story ran in The Telegram of the successful court case for fishermen against the Canada Revenue Agency to get the taxes refunded to them that they paid on their fisheries buyouts.
The opening paragraph read: “Eli Baker was channelling Danny Williams when he reacted to the news that more than 700 retired fishermen from this province have won their battle against the taxman.”
Apparently, the story doesn’t end there and they
didn’t really win.
Just last week, many of those retired fisherman, my parents included, got an unpleasant surprise in the mail.
The federal notice that all senior citizens receive each July that states the monthly amount they will get for Old Age Security (OAS) and the supplement for the next 12 months arrived.
When my mother did the calculations, she found it to be significantly less than they got in the previous year. It was discovered that they owed over $4,000 and that it would be taken back as a cut in their monthly pension and supplement. To quoted my mother, “It was like a kick in the guts.”
To clarify, of the money legally awarded to Dad from the courts, just over $7,500 was interest on the taxes which were unfairly calculated and paid in 1998 on the buyout.
They were required to report this interest as income on their tax return for 2012. Pensioners are only permitted to make $3,500 income per year to keep their full pension.
Because of the interest, which I reiterate, was owed to them by the Canada Revenue Agency, they were over the maximum allowable earnings by more than $4,000.
My parents, like many pensioners, use every single dollar of their monthly pension.
They live modestly in a small, three-
bedroom bungalow. Dad, at 73, still cuts his own wood for the winter to keep the electricity bill down. Mom still grows vegetables in her garden to supplement the groceries. They take advantage of what they can to cut costs.
Now, I’m not sure how other people will see this, but the view from here is that it looks like they are being punished for getting the money. My parents receive less than $1,800 a month from Canada Pension.
Can you live comfortably on $1,800 a month? I think not.
Now, for the next year, they will lose $340 a month and have to find a way to stretch their dollars even more.
Yes, there’s money left from what was awarded, but as my mother put it, “I was hoping to save it in case one of us got sick or died.”
Seriously, is this something people who worked as productive citizens all their lives should have to worry about after they retire?
To me, this is the government, once again, preying on the most vulnerable in society. No better than a schoolyard bully taking the smaller kids’ lunch money. They do it because they can and there’s nothing we can do about it.