OSFI’s B-20 Guideline:

Canadians are facing a new hurdle to home ownership, as the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ more stringent mortgage stress tests come into effect. Prospective homebuyers putting 20 per cent or more down on their home will now have to prove they can carry their mortgage at an interest rate 200 basis points higher than the posted rate or the Bank of Canada’s five-year rate, whichever is higher. The new rules are only being applied to new mortgages, so Canadians re-upping with their current lender are unaffected. It’s just the latest move implemented by regulators in bid to reinforce housing market stability, though it’s expected to hit the overall buying power of Canadians looking to get into the market. Ratespy.com founder Rob McLister estimates the stress tests will reduce the average borrower’s buying power by about 18 per cent.

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Alberta’s carbon tax:

Alberta’s carbon tax rose 50 per cent on New Year’s Day, jumping to $30 per tonne from $20. The provincial government estimates the hike will result in a two and a half cent per litre increase in gas prices, though the Canadian Taxpayers Federation disagrees, estimating the cost at closer to four and a half cents. Opposition Leader Jason Kenney was quick to criticize the levy, which he argues has killed thousands of good-paying jobs and has burdened household finances at an economically sensitive time for the province. The ruling NDP said their climate policy, including the carbon tax, was key to the federal government’s decision to green light Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion to the west coast.

Small Business tax rate:

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is delivering Ottawa’s long-awaited small business tax cut. The small business rate is now 10 per cent, down from 10.5 per cent, though the impact won’t be felt until business owners file their 2018 taxes early next year. The Liberals campaigned on a plan to cut the small-business rate to 9 per cent by 2019, and pulled the trigger on the first cut from 11 per cent in the 2016 budget. The cut comes after Morneau faced pitched opposition to a slate of changes to the small business tax code, including cracking down on so-called income sprinkling, from the small business community.