Chapter 12 Income
A total of 46 comments were received on the topic of income. Support was expressed for the continued use of tax files as an alternative to completing the income questions on the questionnaire.
Sources of income • Seventeen comments pertained to the various sources of income. Of these, it was recommended the ‘other income' and ‘other income from government sources' components be broken out. In the case of ‘other income from government sources,' knowing how many respondents received social assistance by source was considered important. The information obtained by separating income categories (welfare payments, in particular) would support the analysis of poverty in Canada and help with social policy development. Lastly, a small number of participants communicated concern that certain sections in the income module (e.g., overseas income) are underreported. It was felt there might be confusion over dividends and actual income in the case of self-employment income.
Use of tax files • The inclusion of an income permission question was new for the 2006 Census. It enabled respondents to give Statistics Canada access to their income tax files instead of filling out the income module. The following summarizes the comments contributed on the use of the tax file permission question:
- Some participants thought the data collected from T1 forms were more accurate than those from the census. As well, it was proposed the income question be more aligned with the tax form to encourage respondents to answer 'yes' to the question on permission. It was also concluded that much of the income section could be eliminated from the census if the information came from tax records.
- The income permission statement could be broadened to include other tax files (e.g., T4). More detailed data would be obtained and at the same time it would alleviate respondent burden.
- Very few participants expressed reservations about this method of collection. Concerns centred on the possibility that the content found on T1 forms would limit the type of income-related questions contained on census forms and the need for more detail on the census questionnaire regarding which parts of the tax information would be accessed. It was also suggested a cut-off date be added, after which point if the respondent has not filed they would be required to complete the income questions on the census.
Other comments on income include the following:
- remove the 'alimony' portion of the other money income question. It is considered inappropriate and is not collected on T1 forms
- add a question on land claims benefits and intergenerational transfer of money
- ask the respondent about their assets and debt
- specify whether before or after-tax child support income is required
- examine the order and response format of income questions to ensure data quality.
Income content • It was reported that income data are important to different policy areas, such as Aboriginal affairs and health and enable users to analyze of the economic impact of other variables such as education.
The decision to include new questions and modify or eliminate existing census content takes into account a number of factors, such as consultation feedback, support to legislation, program and policy needs, data quality, costs, historical comparability, respondent burden, privacy, operational considerations and alternative data sources.
The phrase 'or intend to file' was added to the current income permission question to broaden the eligibility of respondents who wish to use this option. As well, a sub-category for capital gains was tested in May 2008.
Income content on the census is used for evaluating and monitoring federal legislation, policies and programs including:
- Employment Insurance
- Old Age Security Act
Source: Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 92-379-XIE, 2001 Census Handbook.
Questions 51 and 52 on pages 32 to 36 of the 2006 Census questionnaire (see Appendix 3) relate to income. Information on income is also collected from tax file records, when permission is granted.
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