T1 Family File, Final Estimates, 2019
Section 1 - The data

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Correction notice

On August 11, 2021, the 2019 median incomes and ratios in tables C and D, and the 2019 low income measure thresholds amounts in table G were corrected. The accompanying examples associated with these tables were also updated.

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Data Source

The data are derived primarily from income tax returns. For the most part, tax returns were filed in the spring of the year following the reference year. The mailing address at the time of filing is the basis for the geographic information in the tables.

The T1 Family File (T1FF) approximates the total Canadian population. It contains information on sources of income and some demographic indicators. We have divided the T1FF data into three themes:

Census Families

The concept of family in the T1FF is based on the census family, which is a concept specific to Statistics Canada. Census families are married couples or couples living common law with or without children, or lone parents with at least one child living in the same dwelling. The residual population is called "persons not in census families" and is made up of persons living alone and of persons living in a household but who are not part of a couple family or lone-parent family. Other sources of data may use economic family or household. Economic families are groups of two or more people living in the same dwelling who are related to each other by blood, marriage, common law, or adoption. A ‘household’ is a person or a group of people occupying the same dwelling. Due to constraints associated with the data source, we are unable to disseminate data at the economic family and household level.

Starting with the 1992 tax year, common-law couples were recognized as a separate category on the T1 General Tax form. Beginning with the 2000 data, same-sex couples reporting as a couple are included as common-law couples, and therefore counted in the couple category.

The initial population used to develop the census family units comprises all tax filers for the reference year and represents approximately two-thirds of the Canadian population. The census family units are formed from information obtained on the tax returns of the tax filing family members.

First, tax filers from the same census family, including children, are matched using common links (e.g., spousal social insurance number, same surname, and same address). Prior to 1993, non-filing children were identified from information on their parents’ tax form. Information from the Federal Family Allowance Program was used to assist in the identification of children. Since 1993, children are added to the census family by using a file pertaining to Federal Child Benefits, the provincial births files and previous years of the T1FF.

The remaining tax filers who have not been matched in the census family formation process become persons not in census families (formerly non-family persons). They may be living with a census family to whom they are related (e.g., brother-in-law, cousin, grandparent) or unrelated (e.g., lodger, roommate). They may be living with other persons not in census families or living alone.

Individuals

Beginning with 1992 data, demographic statistics are included in the standard tables for both tax filers and the non-filing population. These statistics are derived from the small area and administrative family data tables (T1 Family File) built from income tax records and other sources of administrative data. For tables of previous years (up to and including 1991), demographic statistics were provided for tax filers only.

Seniors

The data tables on seniors is a subset of the individual and census families data tables and begin with 1990 tax year. These tables cover the entire population, but focus on older adults and seniors. A senior census family is a couple family where at least one of the partners is aged 55 or over, or a lone-parent family where the parent is aged 55 or over.

Data Vintage

The data are taken from tax records, and are the current data from tax returns filed for the year noted on the tables. For example, 2019 income records are taken from 2019 tax returns filed in the spring of 2020, with data released during the summer of 2021. Data are released on an annual basis.

Data Quality

The data appearing in the tables are taken directly from the T1 Family File (T1FF), built from the income tax and a file pertaining to Federal Child Benefits. Information on income is obtained from the tax filers, for both themselves and their non-filing spouses. Demographic information is derived from tax filers and non-filing spouses and/or children, such as the estimates of the "number of persons" and "total tax filers and dependants".

In 2019, about 75.8% of Canadians (of all ages) filed tax returns (see Table A).


Table A
Coverage
Table summary
This table displays the results of Coverage. The information is grouped by Tax year (appearing as row headers), Number of Tax Filers ('000), Date of Population Estimate, Population ('000) and Percent Coverage (appearing as column headers).
Tax year Number of Tax Filers ('000) Date of Population Estimate Population ('000) Percent Coverage
1990 18,450 1-Apr-91 27,936 66.0
1991 18,786 1-Apr-92 28,265 66.5
1992 19,267 1-Apr-93 28,597 67.4
1993 19,882 1-Apr-94 28,905 68.8
1994 20,184 1-Apr-95 28,211 71.5
1995 20,536 1-Apr-96 28,515 72.0
1996 20,772 1-Apr-97 28,819 72.1
1997 21,113 1-Apr-98 30,082 70.2
1998 21,431 1-Apr-99 30,317 70.7
1999 21,893 1-Apr-00 30,594 71.6
2000 22,249 1-Apr-01 30,911 72.0
2001 22,804 1-Apr-02 31,252 73.0
2002 22,968 1-Apr-03 31,548 72.8
2003 23,268 1-Apr-04 31,846 73.1
2004 23,625 1-Apr-05 32,143 73.5
2005 23,952 1-Apr-06 32,471 73.8
2006 24,259 1-Apr-07 32,818 73.9
2007 24,624 1-Apr-08 33,191 74.2
2008 24,987 1-Apr-09 33,605 74.4
2009 25,244 1-Apr-10 34,002 74.2
2010 25,484 1-Apr-11 34,368 74.2
2011 25,870 1-Apr-12 34,754 74.4
2012 26,160 1-Apr-13 35,030 74.7
2013 26,520 1-Apr-14 35,416 74.9
2014 26,879 1-Apr-15 35,755 75.2
2015 27,119 1-Apr-16 36,147 75.0
2016 27,406 1-Apr-17 36,561 75.0
2017 27,796 1-Apr-18 36,890 75.3
2018 28,336 1-Apr-19 37,408 75.7
2019 28,784 1-Apr-20 37,980 75.8

Most children do not file because they have low or no income. Improvements have been made to the process of identifying children. For example, the introduction of the Universal Child Care Benefit program in 2006, and subsequently the Canadian Child Benefit in 2016, has allowed the identification of more children under the age of six. These changes have resulted in improved coverage of children in the T1FF data compared to the official Statistics Canada population estimates. The impact of these changes is most notable in the counts and median total income of lone-parent families although it is not possible to distinguish the precise impact of the improvements separately from normal year-to-year change.

Some elderly Canadians receiving only Old Age Security (OAS) pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) do not file because they have low or no taxable income. However, with the introduction of the federal sales tax (FST) credit in 1986 and the goods and services tax (GST) credit in 1989, the percentage of the elderly population filing tax returns has increased. In 2019, 95.7% filed tax returns, up from 75% in 1989 (when comparing tax filers aged 65 years or more with the 65 years or more population estimate counts to July 1, 2020, available from Statistics Canada’s website, web table 17-10-0005-01).The introduction of the FST and GST credits has also resulted in more low-income families filing tax returns.

The initial population used to develop the estimated population counts comprise all tax filers for the reference year and represents almost three-quarter of the Canadian population. Tax filers from the same census family including children are matched using common links (e.g., same name, same address). When there are indications that one or several members of a census family are missing (for instance children), those members are imputed. The remaining tax filers who have not been matched in the census family formation process become non-census family persons. The resulting population counts approximate the total Canadian population.

The Centre for Income and Socioeconomic Well-being Statistics’ population estimates compare well with estimates obtained through other sources. For example, coverage rates by age from the data tables, compared to the official population estimates, are:


Table B
Coverage by Age and by Province, 2019
Table summary
This table displays the results of Coverage by Age and by Province. The information is grouped by Rates of Coverage by Age (appearing as row headers), percent (appearing as column headers).
Rates of Coverage by Age Percent
under 20 101.2
20-24 88.4
25-29 94.1
30-34 94.4
35-39 95.2
40-44 95.3
45-49 94.8
50-54 93.5
55-59 92.8
60-64 93.0
65-74 94.9
75+ 95.5
Total 95.7
Rates of Coverage by Province
Newfoundland & Labrador 97.9
Prince Edward Island 94.4
Nova Scotia 95.1
New Brunswick 96.7
Quebec 97.1
Ontario 95.1
Manitoba 95.9
Saskatchewan 96.9
Alberta 96.1
British Columbia 94.2
Yukon Territory 89.7
Northwest Territories 94.3
Nunavut 95.1
Canada 95.7

Beginning in 1992, “Total income” and “family total income” were changed to include income of non-filing spouses reported on the tax filer's income tax return. This increased the population of lower income individuals, subsequently lowering the median total income of the population. This also caused an increase in total census family income as well as an increase in median census family income for 1992. Starting with 2001 data, wage and salary income of non-filing spouses can be identified, in some cases, from T4 earnings statements.

When compared to other sources, T1FF median Census family income at the Canada level has been a few percentage points below. In 2019 there was a 4.5% difference in the median Census family income at the Canada level between T1FF and the Canadian Income Survey (CIS) (Table C).


Table C
Median Income of Census Families
Table summary
This table displays the results of Median Income of Census Families. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Median Income, All Census families, Ratio, T1FF and CIS, calculated using dollar amount and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Median Income, All Census families Ratio
T1FF CIS
dollar amount dollar amount percent
2014 78,870 82,700 95.4
2015 80,940 84,700 95.6
2016 82,110 85,100 96.5
2017 84,950 88,900 95.6
2018 87,930 93,300 94.2
2019 90,390 94,600 95.5

As for the T1FF median income for individuals, when compared at the Canada level, it has been just a bit lower. In 2019 there was a 0.24% difference in the median income for individuals at the Canada level between T1FF and the CIS (Table D).


Table D
Median Income of Individuals
Table summary
This table displays the results of Median Income of Individuals. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Median Income, Individuals, Ratio, T1FF and CIS, calculated using dollar amount and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Median Income, Individuals Ratio
T1FF CIS
dollar amount dollar amount percent
2014 32,790 32,800 99.97
2015 33,920 32,800 103.41
2016 36,300 33,600 108.04
2017 35,680 35,000 101.94
2018 36,760 36,400 100.99
2019 37,710 37,800 99.76

The table below shows the coverage of government transfers at the individual level for 2019.


Table E
Coverage of Government Transfers, 2019 (Individual Level)
Table summary
This table displays the results of Coverage of Government Transfers. The information is grouped by Transfer Payment (appearing as row headers), Coverage (%) and Source of Comparison (appearing as column headers).
Transfer Payment Coverage (%) Source of Comparison
Employment Insurance Benefits 95.5 Web Table 36-10-0477-01 and QPIP Official StatisticsTable E Note 1
Federal Child Benefits 93.7 Canada Revenue Agency, Benefits Statistics Table E Note 3
Canada/Quebec Pension Plans 93.2 Web Table 36-10-0477-01 Table E Note 2
Old Age Security Benefits 98.2 Web Table 36-10-0477-01 Table E Note 2
Social Assistance Benefits 54.7 Web Table 36-10-0484-01 4, Table E Note 6
Workers’ Compensation Benefits 84.7 Web Table 36-10-0484-01 Table E Note 4
Goods and Services Tax Credit 89.9 Canada Revenue Agency, Benefits Statistics Table E Note 5

Confidentiality and Rounding

All data are subject to the confidentiality procedures of rounding and suppression.

To protect the confidentiality of Canadians, counts and amounts are rounded. Rounding may increase, decrease, or cause no change to counts and amounts. Rounding can affect the results obtained from calculations. For example, when calculating percentages from rounded data, results may be distorted as both the numerator and denominator have been rounded. The distortion can be greatest with small numbers.

Starting with the 2007 data, all aggregate amounts are rounded to the nearest $5,000 dollars. Also as of 2007, median incomes in the data tables are rounded to the nearest ten dollars (prior to 2007 they were rounded to the nearest hundred dollars).

Since 1990, data cells represent counts of 15 or greater, and are rounded to a base of 10. For example, a cell count of 15 would be rounded to 20 and a cell count of 24 would be rounded to 20.

For 1988 and 1989 data, all counts are 25 or greater and they are rounded to the nearest 25. Reported amounts are rounded to the nearest thousand dollars.

For data up to and including 1987, all counts are randomly rounded to a base of 5, and reported amounts are unrounded, but are adjusted according to the rounding of the counts.

In the data tables:

  • Medians, and average amount are rounded to the nearest ten dollars;
  • Percentages, ratios and indexes are published with one decimal and calculated on rounded data; therefore, the sum of percentages might not equal 100% in the case of small counts.

Suppressed Data

To maintain confidentiality, data cells have been suppressed whenever:

  • areas comprise less than 100 tax filers;
  • cells represent less than 15 observations;
  • cells were dominated by a single observation;
  • cells for median income were based on a rounded count of less than 20 observations.

Suppressed data may occur:

a) within one area:

  • when amounts for one of the income categories is suppressed, a second category must also be suppressed to avoid disclosure of confidential data by subtraction (called residual disclosure) (see Table F);
  • when amounts for one of the gender categories is suppressed, the other gender category must also be suppressed to avoid residual disclosure (see Table F);
  • when amounts for one of the age group category is suppressed, another age group must also be suppressed to avoid residual disclosure.

b) between areas:

  • when a variable amount in one area is suppressed, that variable amount is also suppressed in another area to prevent disclosure by subtraction.

Table F
Suppression of Income Data, an Illustration
Table summary
This table displays the results of Suppression of Income Data. The information is grouped by Source of Income (appearing as row headers), Males, Females and Total, calculated using amount (Millions of Dollars) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Source of Income Males Females Total
amount (Millions of Dollars)
Total Income 14.6 7.9 22.5
Wages/Salaries/Commissions 6.7 3.4 10.2
Net Self-Employment 0.3 0.2 0.5
Dividends and Interest Income 1.2 1.1 2.3
Employment Insurance Benefits 0.7 0.3 1
Old Age Security/Net Federal Supplements Benefits 0.7 0.5 1.1
Canada/Quebec Pension Plan 1.1 0.5 1.6
Federal Child Benefits Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics ActTable F Note  Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics ActTable F Note  0.1
Goods and Services Tax Credit/Harmonized Sales Tax Credit Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics ActTable F Note § Note x: suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics ActTable F Note § 0.2
Workers' Compensation Benefits 0.1 0.1 0.2
Social Assistance Benefits 0.2 0.2 0.5
Provincial Refundable Tax Credits and Family Benefits 0.1 0.1 0.2
Other Government Transfers 0.1 0.1 0.2
Private Pensions 1.9 0.4 2.3
Registered Retirement Savings Plan Income 0.1 0.1 0.2
Other Income 0.6 0.6 1.2

Census Family Low Income Measures

The Census Family Low Income Measure (CFLIM) is a relative measure of low income. It represents a fixed percentage (50%) of adjusted median census family income, where adjusted indicates a consideration of family needs. Although the CFLIM can be calculated using different income concepts, it is typically derived according to the after-tax income (CFLIM-AT).

When calculating the CFLIM thresholds, the adjustment factor applied to the family after-tax income reflects the precept that family needs increase with census family size. A person is considered to be in low income when their adjusted family income after-tax is below the CFLIM-AT threshold associated with their census family size.

In 2018 an update to the CFLIM methodology was introduced ensure better alignment of T1FF data with other Statistics Canada Low Income Measure data (i.e. such as that published by the 2016 Census of Population and the Canadian Income Survey). As such, and in accordance with the current standard for analysing the low income situation of individuals, T1FF now  only produces a Census Family After-Tax LIM (CFLIM-AT) and no longer releases in its standard products LIM data according to the formerly available CFLIM based on before-tax income.

A more detailed paper regarding the differences in LIMs related data between the Census and T1FF is available through the Income Research Paper series, catalogue no. 75F0002M, “Low Income Measure: Comparison of Two Data Sources, T1 Family File and 2016 Census of Population”, 2018. Regarding the specific changes to the T1FF CFLIM methodology and their impact, see catalogue no. 75F0002M, “Methodology Changes: Census Family Low Income Measure based on the T1 Family File”, 2018.

Methodology for the Census Family Low Income Measures

In the T1FF data, the CFLIM-AT is calculated according to census families. Here are the key components behind the calculation of the CFLIM-AT statistics.

  1. For each census family, determine the adjustment factor used to calculate adjusted family after-tax income. The factor is equal to the square root of the family size.
  2. For each census family, calculate an adjusted family after-tax income by dividing their family after-tax income by their adjustment factor calculated at step 1. For persons not in census families, for whom the adjustment factor is 1.0, the adjusted family after-tax income is equal to the individual’s after-tax income.
  3. Determine the median adjusted family after-tax income. The adjusted family after-tax income is assigned to each individual, so that the median is the adjusted family after-tax income where 50% of individuals have a smaller adjusted family after-tax income and 50% have a higher adjusted family after-tax income.
  4. The CFLIM-AT threshold for a family of size one is 50% of the median adjusted family after-tax income. The CFLIM-AT thresholds for other census family sizes are equal to this value multiplied by the corresponding adjustment factor.
  5. Persons in low income are those whose adjusted family after-tax income is below the CFLIM-AT thresholds. Those whose adjusted family after-tax income is equal to or above the CFLIM-AT thresholds are not considered in low income.
  6. This process is repeated annually. Thus, the CFLIM-AT thresholds for each year are derived from the reported incomes of that year.

Data and Thresholds for Census Family Low Income Measure

The Census Family After-Tax LIM (CFLIM-AT) information is included in the T1FF Individual Table 13 (web table 11-10-0018-01) and T1FF Family Table 20 (web table 11-10-0020-01). Although the updated methodology was introduced in April 2018 with 2015 tax data, data tables for CFLIM-AT include data as far back as tax year 2004. Additional statistics were also introduced in T1FF Individual Table 13: “Percentage of individual and of families below the CFLIM-AT” and the “Average income gap-ratio of individuals based on adjusted family income” (see Glossary for more detailed definitions). These statistics provide an additional perspective on the situations of individuals living in low income situations.

Data linked to the total population which can be used as the denominator when calculating rates of low income can be found in the T1FF Family Table 19 (web table 11-10-0017-01). The table includes the count of families according to the family type and to the count of individuals by age group in these types of families. It also includes the before-tax and after-tax median family income.

To summarize, three factors have been modified in the updated methodology:

  • In the T1FF standard CFLIM tables, the CFLIM thresholds are now exclusively derived using family after-tax income.  
  • The adjustment factor for the family income is now based on the square root of the family size. The former methodology used predetermined factors based on a combination of family type, family composition and family size.
  • Adjusted family income is assigned at the individual level to calculate the median adjusted family income, not at the family level. In the former methodology, the median adjusted family income was assigned at the family level (as opposed to the individual level) before the median adjusted family income was calculated.

Table G outlines the After-Tax Census Family Low Income Measures (CFLIM-AT) thresholds for the tax year 2019.


Table G
2019: Thresholds for After-Tax Census Family Low Income Measure
Table summary
This table displays the results of 2018: Thresholds for After-Tax Census Family Low Income Measure (Updated Methodology). The information is grouped by Number of family members (appearing as row headers), After-Tax Census Family Low Income Measure Thresholds, calculated using dollar amount units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Number of family members After-Tax Census Family Low Income Measure Thresholds
dollar amount
1 22,449
2 31,748
3 38,883
4 44,898
5 50,197
6 54,989
7 59,394
8 63,495
9 67,347
10 70,990

Example: The CFLIM-AT for any census family size can be calculated by multiplying $22,449 by the square root of the family size. For example, the after-tax CFLIM for a family of 4 is $44,898. This is calculated by multiplying $22,449 by 2 (square root of 4).

Other Low-Income Statistics

LIM statistics are also available from the Census and the Canadian Income Survey (CIS). In those data sources, LIMs are derived according to the household. These two other sources of low income statistics include additional measures of low income such as  the Market Basket Measure (MBM) and the Low Income Cut-Offs (LICO). Not all components required to calculate the MBM are available in T1FF. As for the LICO, it is generally seen as an outdated measure no longer recommended as a valid approach for studying low income situations in Canada, although it is still sometime used for historical comparisons. 


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