Nunavut residents’ vacation travel allowance timelines should be extended
“With the two-week isolation requirements … it becomes very difficult for those with small children … to use the VTA”
I think the Canada Revenue Agency needs to provide an eight-month extension for the 2020 vacation travel allowance, meaning VTAs received have to be spent by Aug. 30, 2021, instead of the usual Dec. 31, 2020.
Nunavut residents are routinely provided a VTA as part of their employment compensation. These amounts are usually tied to the cost of airfares from the employee’s community to the nearest major airport in southern Canada. They are presented in Box 32 of our annual T4: every year, we tell the CRA that we received so much for travel, and then we present the receipts for our travel expenses, so that the CRA does not charge us income tax on the VTA. It’s great: tax-free vacation money! The VTA needs to be spent by Dec. 31 of every year: anything not spent is taxed. For those with large families, the VTA can be a significant portion of their overall family income.
The issue with the current pandemic is that with the two-week isolation requirements before returning to Nunavut, it becomes very difficult for those with small children—almost impossible—to use the VTA. I have three young children, aged five, four and two. There is no way we can spend 14, 24-hour days in a hotel room, without access to the pool and the movies. That’s not to mention the stories I am hearing about substance abuse at the isolation facilities.
Also, for older or infirm people, or those with compromised immune systems, it is extremely unwise to leave the relative safety of Nunavut while the virus still poses a threat.
This is why I think the VTA expenditure timeline needs to be extended, so those who cannot or should not leave Nunavut for the summer 2020 break can have an extra summer in 2021 to spend our 2020 VTAs.
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