Federal Budget Report 2017

On March 22, 2017, the Honourable Bill Morneau tabled his second budget as Minister of Finance.  

With a focus on economic growth, the minister continued to build Canada’s economy by seeking to attract investment in clean technologies, and by creating jobs and prosperity for the middle class.

Highlights

  • Deficit of $23.0 billion for 2016-17
  • Projected deficit of $28.5 billion for 2017-18
  • Projected deficit of $27.4 billion 2018-19
  • No timetable set for balancing the federal budget
  • Government to release paper on private company tax planning
  • Several income tax deductions and credits eliminated

The federal government is projecting a deficit for the 2016–17 fiscal year of $23.0 billion. In last year’s budget, a deficit of $29.4 billion was predicted. 

Today’s tax changes include the changes summarized below (note that effective dates and transitional rules vary). 

Note that the capital gains inclusion rate was not increased today, and therefore, only one-half of capital gains remain taxable.

Projections of federal surplus (deficit) and debt

 

Surplus (Deficit)

Outlook

Federal Debt

 

$billion

$billion

% of GDP

2016-17

(23.0)

637.1

31.5

2017-18

(28.5)

665.5

31.6

2018-19

(27.4)

692.9

31.6

2019-20

(23.4)

716.3

31.5

2020-21

(21.7)

738.1

31.3

2021-22

(18.8)

756.9

30.9

Breaking Down the Budget

Key Economic Statistics (In Billions $)

Revenues:

2017-18

  1. Personal Income taxes

$152.1

 

  1. Corporate Income taxes

43.6

 

  1. GST

35.1

 

  1. Other income tax

6.9

 

  1. Custom import duties

4.9

 

  1. EI premium revenues

21.2

 

  1. Other excise taxes/duties

11.7

 

  1. Other revenues

    29.1

 

Total revenues

 

$304.7

Expenses:

 

 

  1. Elderly benefits

$51.1

 

  1. EI

22.0

 

  1. Children’s benefits

23.0

 

  1. Federal transfers (Health & Other Social programs)

70.2

 

  1. Direct program expenses

139.1

 

  1. Assessment of risk

3.0

 

  1. Other (public debt charges)

     24.7

 

Total expenses

 

$333.2

Deficit ($304.7 – 333.2)

 

$    (28.5)

Personal Tax Measures

No Taxes Rate Increase & Decrease in 2017!

There are no individual income tax rate or tax bracket changes in this budget.  The brackets will continue to be indexed for inflation.  They appear as follows:

Personal Marginal Tax Rates

 

2016

 

2017

Tax brackets

Tax Rate

Tax brackets

Tax Rate

$0 – $45,282

15.0%

$0 – $45,916

15.0%

$45,282 – $90,563

20.5%

$45,917 – $91,831

20.5%

$90,563 – $140,388

26.0%

$91,832 – $142,353

26.0%

$140,388 – 200,000

29.0%

$142,354 – 202,800

29.0%

> $200,000

33.0%

> $202,800

33.0%

Personal tax credits for 2016 will be indexed by 1.013%. The maximum tax credit amounts and actual Federal tax credits for 2016 and 2017 are set out below.

Federal Non-Refundable Tax Credits

 

2016

2017

Maximum Amount

Federal Tax Credit

Maximum Amount

Federal Tax Credit

Basic Personal Amount

$11,474

$1,721

$11,635

$1,745

Spousal Amount

11,474

1,721

11,635

1,745

Eligible dependent amount

11,474

1,721

11,635

1,745

Age amount

7,125

1,069

7,225

1,084

Infirm dependent amount / New Caregiver credit

6,788

1,018

6,883

1,032

CPP Contributions

2,544

382

2,564

385

EI Contributions

955

143

836

125

Canada Employment Amount

1,161

174

1,177

177

Pension income amount

2,000

300

2,000

300

Disability amount

8,001

1,200

8,113

1,217

Disability supplement

4,667

700

4,732

710

Tuition tax credit amount

Variable

Variable

Variable

Variable

Adoption expenses

15,453

2,318

15,669

2,350

Medical expenses

Variable

Variable

Variable

Variable

Medical expenses (other dependents)

Variable

Variable

Variable

Variable

Caregiver amount

4,667

700

 

 

Interest on student loans

Variable

Variable

Variable

Variable

Donations & Gifts
-first $200

- over $200


200
75% of income


30
Variable


200
75% of income


30
Variable

In general, credits are multiplied by 15% to arrive at the deduction from Federal Tax.  In the case of donations and gifts over $200, the credit is 29% or 33% depending on whether $200,000 income threshold is reached

Tuition Tax Credit

The budget extended the eligibility criteria for the tuition tax credit to amounts paid for tuition to a post-secondary institution in Canada for occupational skills courses that are not at the post-secondary level.

Public Transit Tax Credit

The public transit tax credit is eliminated effective 1 July 2017, such that public transit passes and electronic fare cards attributable to transit use after June 2017 will not be eligible for the credit.

Caregiver Tax Credits

The budget proposes to replace the infirm dependant tax credit, the caregiver tax credit and the family caregiver tax credit with a new 15% non-refundable Canada caregiver credit for 2017 and subsequent years.

Specifically, $6,883 may be claimed for the care of an infirm dependant relative of the claimant (i.e., parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or an adult child), or of the claimant’s spouse or common-law partner. And $2,150 for an infirm dependant spouse or common-law partner in respect of whom the individual claims the spouse or common-law partner amount, an infirm dependant for whom the eligible dependant credit is claimed, and an infirm child under 18 years of age at the end of the taxation year.

The credit amount is reduced (dollar for dollar) when a dependant’s net income exceeds $16,163.

The credit amounts and the net income threshold will be indexed to inflation after 2017.

Disability Tax Credit

The budget proposes to add nurse practitioners to the list of medical practitioners who can certify eligibility for the 15% non-refundable disability tax credit.

Nurse practitioners are described in the budget as registered nurses with additional educational preparation and experience who can diagnose autonomously, order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe pharmaceuticals and perform specific procedures within their legislated scope of practice.

This budget measure applies to disability tax credit certifications made on or after 22 March 2017.

Medical Expense Tax Credit

The list of expenses eligible for the medical expense tax credit will be clarified to ensure that individuals who incur costs related to the use of reproductive technologies (such as in-vitro fertilization), but do not have a medical infertility condition, are eligible to claim the credit.

This measure generally applies for 2017 and subsequent years. However, an individual may elect in a year for this measure to apply for any of the immediately preceding 10 taxation years.

Mineral Exploration Tax Credit

As previously announced on 5 March 2017, the mineral exploration tax credit, equal to 15% of specified mineral exploration expenses incurred in Canada and renounced to flow-through share investors, will be extended to flow-through share agreements entered into on or before 31 March 2018.

The credit was scheduled to expire on 31 March 2017.

First-Time Donor’s Tax Credit

The government confirmed that the first-time donor’s tax credit will expire, as planned, after 2017. Hence, this calendar year will be the last opportunity for a taxpayer to claim this additional credit.

Ecological Gifts

There were 4 technical amendments that were proposed:

  1. Transfer of ecological gifts
    The 50% Part XI.2 tax that applies where the use of ecologically sensitive land is changed, or the property is disposed of, without the consent of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), will be extended to situations where the land is transferred between organizations for consideration and the transferee changes the use of the property, or disposes of the land without the consent of the ECCC.
  2. Approval of recipients
    The requirement for the ECCC to approve recipients of ecological gifts will be extended, on a gift-by-gift basis, to municipalities and municipal and public bodies performing a function of government.
  3. Private foundations
    Private foundations will no longer be permitted to receive ecological gifts.
  4. Personal servitudes
    The donation of personal servitudes will qualify as ecological gifts, provided certain conditions are met (e.g., the servitude must run for a least 100 years).

These measures will apply in respect of transactions or events that occur on or after 22 March 2017.

Home Relocation Loans

Where an employer provides an individual with financial assistance in the form of a low-or no-interest loan, an imputed interest benefit must be included in the individual’s employment income.

An employee who has received a home purchase loan that qualifies as a home relocation loan may be entitled to a deduction against the amount of any imputed interest benefit included in income.

The value of the benefit arising from an eligible home relocation loan may be deducted from taxable income; however, the deductible amount is limited to the annual benefit that would arise from a loan of $25,000.

Budget 2017 proposes to eliminate this deduction for benefits arising after 2017. As a result, there will no longer be a deduction from taxable income for the interest benefit from home relocation loans.

Allowances for Members of Legislative Assemblies and Certain Municipal Officers

Budget 2017 proposes to include non-accountable allowances in income.

Certain officials receive non-accountable allowances for work expenses that are currently not taxable. These officials are elected members of provincial and territorial legislative assemblies and officers of incorporated municipalities; elected officers of municipal utilities boards, commissions, corporations or similar bodies; and members of public or separate school boards or similar bodies.

Anti-Avoidance Rules for Registered Plans

Budget 2017 proposes to extend the anti-avoidance rules that currently apply to tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and registered retirement income funds (RRIFs) to registered education savings plans (RESPs) and registered disability savings plans (RDSPs). This includes the advantage tax rules, the prohibited investment rules and the non-qualified investment rules.

The measures will apply to transactions occurring and investments acquired after 22 March 2017.

However, the advantage rules will not apply to swap transactions undertaken before July 2017, or that are undertaken any time before 2022 for the purpose of removing investments which would otherwise be considered a prohibited investment or an asset which gives rise to an advantage.

As well, a plan holder may elect by 1 April 2018 to pay regular personal income tax on the distribution of investment income instead of the advantage tax for an investment held on 22 March 2017.

Pending Legislation

Principal Residences

Non-Residents & Certain Trusts

The Notice of Ways and Means motion dated 3 October 2016 proposed changes to the principal residence exemption such as revising the calculation of the principal residence exemption for individuals who are nonresidents of Canada throughout the year of acquisition of the property as well as certain trusts that no longer qualify to designate a property as a principal residence after 2016.

A taxpayer who was a nonresident throughout the year that includes the acquisition of the property will no longer have an extra year of exemption room when computing the reduction in the gain on the taxpayer’s principal residence.

The extra year of taxation room now applies only to taxpayers who were resident during the year that includes the date of acquisition of the property

Extended Assessment Period for Taxpayers

For taxpayers who do not report the disposition of property on their tax return for 2016 and later years, an extended assessment period has been added.

The normal reassessment period for an individual taxpayer is generally 3 years from the date of the initial notice of assessment.

The extended assessment period is outside of the normal reassessment period for any tax year where the taxpayer does not report the disposition of property in the year in their tax return or does not file a tax return for the year in which the property was disposed.

If the tax return is subsequently assessed in respect of the disposition, the three-year limit does not apply!

Business Tax Measures

No New Corporate Taxes Rate Increases for 2017!

No changes are proposed to the corporate income tax rates or to the $500,000 small-business income limit of a Canadian-controlled private corporation (CCPC).  

For 2017 the federal marginal tax rates remain as follows:

Federal Corporate Income Tax Rates

 

2016

2017 +

General Corporate Rate

15.0%

15.0%

Small Business Rate

10.5%

10.5%

CCPC investment income rate

34.67%

34.67%

Investment Tax Credit for Child Care Spaces

Budget 2017 proposes elimination of the non-refundable tax credit to build or expand child care spaces in licensed child care facilities.

This proposed measure will apply in respect of expenditures incurred on or after 22 March 2017.

Insurers of Farming and Fishing Property

Budget 2017 proposes elimination of the tax exemption for insurers of farming and fishing property, effective for taxation years beginning after 2018.

Professional Firms – Legal and Accounting

An unexpected legislative tax change deals with the perceived mismatching of revenue and costs primarily available to professional firms providing legal and accounting services. 

Current rules permit a deduction for expenses as incurred and the reporting of revenue only when amounts are billed to clients.

Budget 2017 includes measures that will phase out the deduction currently available for unbilled work in progress (WIP) over a two-year period.

For tax years that commence after 22 March 2017, a deduction for WIP will be available for 50% of the lesser of cost and fair market value of unbilled WIP.

In subsequent years, no deduction will be available for unbilled WIP. Consequently, as most practices have a calendar tax year, the 50% deduction will be available for 2018 and, starting in 2019, no WIP deduction will be permitted.

Anti-Avoidance – Income Splitting - Using Private Corporations

Budget 2017 does not include any specific measures that will impact the taxation of private companies and their shareholders.

However, the Minister made it very clear in his speech to Parliament that this government, as first outlined in its election platform, remains committed to improving tax fairness by shutting down tax planning arrangements that solely benefit “wealthy” Canadians.

The Department of Finance considers tax planning arrangements using private corporations to avoid paying the “fair share” of tax to be very high on its agenda for future tax changes

Finance will be releasing a paper in the coming months setting out the nature of these issues in more detail, as well as proposed policy responses.

Examples of the offensive planning cited in the budget documents include income splitting arrangements through private companies to use the lower personal tax rates of other family members who are directly or indirectly shareholders of the company, earning investment income within a private corporation on undistributed business income that is not invested in the business and converting investment income to capital gains that are taxed at a lower effective rate.

At this point, we can only speculate about the specific planning arrangements that Finance considers offensive.

Clearly, it must be more than conventional structures that rely on the system of corporate tax integration to ensure investment income earned directly or indirectly through a private corporation is taxed at approximately the same effective tax rate

Accelerated CCA for Clean Energy Equipment

Continuing with the theme of prior budgets, the Minister announced changes to capital cost allowance (CCA) rates:

Classes 43.1 and 43.2

  • Eligible equipment expanded to include geothermal equipment that is used primarily for the purpose of generating heat or a combination of heat and electricity
  • Geothermal heating will be made an eligible thermal energy source for use in a district energy system
  • Expenses incurred determining the extent and quality of a geothermal resource and the cost of all geothermal drilling, for both electricity and heating projects, will qualify as a Canadian renewable and conservation expense

The measures will apply in respect of property acquired for use on or after 22 March 2017 that has not been used or acquired for use before that date.

Canadian Exploration Expenses

Expenditures related to drilling or completing a discovery well will generally be classified as Canadian development expenses (CDEs) instead of Canadian exploration expenses (CEEs).

The same will apply to expenditures related to building a temporary access road to these wells, or in preparing a site in respect of them.

A discovery well is the first well in a previously unknown petroleum or natural gas reservoir.

Subject to transitional rules, this proposed measure will apply to expenses incurred after 2018.

Flow-Through Share Rules — Reclassification of Renounced Expenses

Eligible small oil and gas corporations will no longer be able to treat the first $1 million of CDE as CEE.

Subject to transitional rules, this proposed measure will apply to expenses incurred after 2018.

Investment Tax Credit for Child Care Spaces

Budget 2017 proposes elimination of the non-refundable tax credit to build or expand child care spaces in licensed child care facilities.

This proposed measure will apply in respect of expenditures incurred on or after 22 March 2017.

International Tax Measures

Tax Evasion, Combating Tax avoidance & Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS)

Budget 2017 promises to invest $523.9 million over 5 years to prevent tax evasion and improve tax compliance.

The investment will be used to fund new initiatives and extend existing programs that ensure our tax system is fair and equitable for all Canadians.

The measures in Budget 2017 will build on previous investments to support the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in its continued efforts to crack down on tax evasion and combat tax avoidance by:

  • Increasing verification activities
  • Hiring additional auditors and specialists with a focus on the underground economy
  • Developing robust business intelligence infrastructure and risk assessment systems to target high-risk international tax and abusive tax avoidance cases
  • Improving the quality of investigative work that targets criminal tax evaders

Budget 2017 accounts for the expected revenue impact of $2.5 billion over 5 years from measures that crack down on tax evasion and combat tax avoidance, resulting in a return on investment of five to one.

The government also remains firmly committed to protecting Canada’s tax system and combatting international tax avoidance and evasion.

Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) refers to international tax planning arrangements used by multinational enterprises to unfairly minimize their taxes.

Legislation was enacted in December 2016 that requires large multinational enterprises to file country-by-country reports.

This information will give tax authorities in each country a clearer picture of where the operations of the group in their particular jurisdiction fit into the group’s global operations.

This will enable them to better assess high-level avoidance risks such as the potential for mispricing of transactions between entities of the group in different jurisdictions.

Canada also participated in the development of a multilateral instrument to streamline the implementation of tax treaty-related BEPS recommendations, including those addressing treaty abuse.

The multilateral instrument is a tax treaty that many countries could sign modifying certain provisions of existing bilateral tax treaties without the need for separate bilateral negotiations. The government is pursuing signature of the multilateral instrument and is undertaking the necessary domestic processes to do so.

The Government of Canada has also committed to the effective and timely resolution of tax treaty-related disputes by improving the mutual agreement procedure in Canada’s tax treaties.

The CRA has begun the spontaneous exchange with other tax administrations of tax rulings that could otherwise give rise to BEPS concerns. As part of the effort to counter harmful tax practices, this helps ensure that revenue authorities are not granting to taxpayers non-transparent “private” rulings that guarantee favourable tax treatment with respect to a transaction.

Other recommendations:

  • Canada has robust “controlled foreign corporation” rules in the form of foreign accrual property income regime, which helps prevent taxpayers from avoiding Canadian income tax by shifting income into foreign subsidiaries.
  • Canada has implemented requirements for taxpayers, as well as promoters and advisors, to disclose specified tax avoidance transactions to the CRA.
  • The CRA is applying revised international guidance on transfer pricing by multinational enterprises. These guidelines provide an improved interpretation of the requirement in the tax laws of Canada and most other countries that transactions between entities of a corporate group in different jurisdictions should be priced as if they were arm’s-length transactions.

Indirect Tax and Customs Changes

Ride-Sharing Services Drivers Must Register and Report GST/HST Effective 1 July 2017

Taxi owners and drivers are required to charge and collect GST/HST on their fares regardless of the annual revenues they earn.

To date, drivers for ride-sharing services were not required to be registered or report GST/HST on their fares if they earned less than $30,000/year.

Budget 2017 proposes to amend the definition of “taxi business” for GST/HST purposes effective 1 July 2017 and will require drivers offering ride-sharing services through electronic platforms or systems (i.e., an app such as Uber) to also register for and to report GST/HST on their fares.

Elimination of Nonresident GST/HST Rebate for Tour Package Accommodations

Budget 2017 proposes to repeal the GST/HST rebate available to nonresident individuals and tour operators in respect of the accommodation portion of eligible tour packages.

While generally repealed effective 23 March 2017, the rebate will continue to be available in respect of eligible tour packages supplied and paid for prior to 1 January 2018.

Opioid Overdose Drug GST/HST Exemption

When Health Canada began allowing opioid to be dispensed without a prescription, the drug’s historical GST/HST exemption was technically lost.

To restore its GST/HST-free status, Budget 2017 proposes to include Naloxone on the list of GST/HST-free non-prescription drugs.

Naloxone is the drug used to treat opioid overdose.

Confirmation of Amendments to GST/HST Drop-shipment Rules, Pension Plan Rules, and Joint Venture Election

In July 2016, the Ministry of Finance released proposed amendments to the GST/HST drop-shipment rules and pension plan rules.

The government also previously committed to expanding the availability of the GST/HST joint venture election. Budget 2017 reaffirmed the government’s commitment to all of these measures.

Excise Tax Measures

Although Budget 2017 includes no significant new excise duty proposals, the accompanying Notice of Ways and Means Motion to Amend the Excise Act, 2001 included the two tax measures, described below.

Tobacco tax

Budget 2017 proposes to eliminate the tobacco manufacturers’ surtax of 10.5% applicable on profits under the Income Tax Act.

In order to maintain an equivalent tax burden on tobacco manufacturers, Budget 2017 proposes to increase accordingly excise duty rates imposed under the Excise Act, 2001.

The minister also proposed that inventories of cigarettes held by manufacturers, importers or wholesalers and retailers at the end of 22 March 2017 be subject to a tax of $0.00265 per cigarette.

This tax is not payable in situations where a separate retail establishment of a person holds inventory of 30,000 or fewer cigarettes.

Taxpayers will have until 31 May 2017 to file returns and pay this inventory tax. These measures will be effective as of 23 March 2017.

There are corresponding proposals to amend the Income Tax Act, the Excise Act and the Excise Act, 2001.

Alcohol Tax

Budget 2017 proposes to increase the excise duties on alcohol and corresponding rates imposed under the Excise Act and Excise Act, 2001 by 2%. 

Budget 2017 also proposes that the rates be adjusted annually on 1 April 2017 according to the Consumer Price Index.

These amendments become effective on 23 March 2017.

National Carbon Tax

Budget 2017 reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to impose a national price on carbon pollution by 2018.

In 2016, the federal government committed to putting a national price on carbon emissions.  Starting at $10/tonne in 2018 and increasing to $50/tonne by 2022, the federal legislation is a “backstop” — meaning that it will only apply in those provinces that have not otherwise adopted their own carbon pricing regime.

The federal government further committed to transferring the funds raised in the province from the federal carbon pricing mechanism back to the provincial government.

In Budget 2017, the federal government committed to releasing a consultation paper in the coming months with technical details on its proposed carbon pricing backstop system.

At this point, two provinces — British Columbia and Alberta — have introduced a direct price on carbon pollution, and three have adopted a cap-and-trade system (Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia).

This means that prior to 2018, the remaining provinces and territories will need to decide whether to introduce their own carbon pricing systems or rely on the “to be announced” federal pricing and collection mechanism.

One of the benefits for provinces of introducing their own carbon pricing systems is that the province also can define exemptions.

For example, Alberta has substantially exempted its upstream oil and gas sector from its carbon levy until 2023; it’s doubtful the federal government’s backstop carbon pricing regime will include a similar exemption.

Accordingly, stay tuned to whether the remaining provinces — particularly Saskatchewan and Manitoba — are willing to rely on the federal government to impose a price on carbon, or whether they’ll move to implement their own to protect the competitiveness of their natural resource industries and agricultural sectors.

Key questions remain.

First, Budget 2017 did not reaffirm the price on carbon that the federal government is proposing. 

As of 1 January 2018, both Alberta and BC will be at $30/tonne, a federal price of $10/tonne in 2018 should be expected.

However, neither Alberta nor BC has yet to commit to increasing their carbon pricing beyond the $30/tonne level, and with changes in climate change policy in the United States, it remains to be seen whether the federal government’s backstop will impose a requirement to increase the provincial/territorial price beyond the $30/tonne level as the federal government originally announced.

Second, it’s not yet clear whether the federal government’s backstop will be in the form of a direct price on carbon (i.e., a tax or levy) or whether it will be a cap-and-trade system, although Budget 2017 does suggest it will be the former in that the budget documents refer to it as a “carbon pricing backstop mechanism.”

How We All Compare

The following chart compares top personal and corporate tax rates and sales taxes for all provinces and territories, as announced to March 22, 2017.

 

 

2017 Corporate Tax Rates

 

 

Top 2017 Personal Rates

General
%

M&P
%

Small Business
%

2017 Prov. Sales Tax

B.C.

47.70

26.00

26.00

13.00(1)

7.00

Alta.

48.00

27.00

27.00

12.50

-

Sask.

48.00

27.00

25.00

12.50

5.00

Man.

50.40

27.00

27.00

10.50

8.00

Ont.

53.53

26.50

25.00

15.00

8.00(5)

Qué.

53.31

26.80

26.80

18.50(2)

9.975(6)

N.B.

53.30

29.00

29.00

14.00(3)

10.00(5)

N.S.

54.00

31.00

31.00

13.50

10.00(5)

P.E.I.

51.37

31.00

31.00

15.00

10.00(5)

N.L.

51.30

30.00

30.00

13.50

10.00(5)

Yukon

48.00

30.00

17.50

13.50(4)

-

N.W.T.

47.05

26.50

26.50

14.50

-

Nunavut

44.50

27.00

27.00

14.50

-

  1. The small business tax rate will decrease to 12.5% effective April 1, 2017.
  2. Quebec provides a rate reduction from the small business rate eligible manufacturing small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). Where certain conditions are met, the maximum reduction available is 4%, for a combined rate 14.5%.  Note that a lesser reduction from the small business rate may be available to certain manufacturing SMEs where some, but not all conditions are met.
  3. The small business tax rate will decrease to 13.5% effective April 1, 2017.
  4. The tax rate for M&P profits eligible for the small business deduction is 12%.
  5. As part of the HST (combined rates are 15% in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador and 13% in Ontario.
  6. The QST system is harmonized with the GST, though two separate tax systems remain – the GST and the amended QST.  The combined rate is 14.975%.

(Source: Federal Government)

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