Volume 91, Issue 76

Thursday, February 12, 1998



Tax deductions of interest to students

By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Gazette Staff

An initiative put forth by the Education Party of Canada is set to be presented this morning in the House of Commons by Member of Parliament for London North Centre Joe Fontana.

The bill, an amendment to the Income Tax Act, is based on an American model which would ultimately decrease students' loan debt by making interest payments tax deductible for up to 10 years, Fontana said.

The bill might also allow a guarantor to take advantage of the tax option if the student could not for whatever reason. "I am of the belief if students can invest in themselves, than they should be able to deduct [some taxes]," Fontana said.

It was in an all-candidates meeting during the federal election last summer when this issue was brought up and Fontana approached the EPC, said EPC leader Michael Rubinoff. "Joe came up to me and said he thought this idea made a lot of sense."

The EPC was the only party with this idea in their platform and are happy one of their policies are making it to the House of Commons, Rubinoff said. "We are thrilled a member of the government is introducing this and support him wholeheartedly."

Yet director-at-large of Western's Reform Club Ray Novak said this idea is a good but is one which has been around in policy circles for a number of years. "Our party has also kicked this idea around and it is certainly not new," Novak said.

Nawaz Tahir, president of the Young Liberals, also said their party had a few financing proposals presented in their model parliament session last year which were forwarded to Joe Fontana.

The question of the bill passing is yet another obstacle, said national director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations Hoops Harrison. During a recent Ottawa CASA conference, Finance Minister Paul Martin was questioned on this issue and publicly stated he was against it, Harrison said.

Part of the resistance may come from the belief there may be a better option for students in a tax credit rather than the tax deduction proposed by the bill. "One argument is [the deduction] aids people who already make money," Harrison said.

Yet just having an EPC initiative presented on the floor of the House of Commons is a huge step forward, he added. "This shows student activism is positive and you don't have to stand in the middle of the street to get people to hear you."

The eventual passing of the bill while letting students know the issue is important to the government are two of the main goals Fontana said he would like to ultimately implement.

To Contact The News Department: gaznews@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998