The Liberal Government’s Federal Budget was delivered by Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, on February 27, 2018. There had been much concern and speculation about the direction the budget would take with respect to the taxation of private corporations. This was due to a release of the Department of Finance in July 2017 which contained private corporation tax proposals which addressed areas of concern to the government involving, among other things, business owners holding passive investments inside of their corporation. There was speculation that if these proposals were implemented the effective tax rate on investment income earned by a private corporation and distributed to its shareholders could increase astronomically. Thankfully, the concerns voiced by business and professional groups following the July proposals were effective in moderating the government’s actions.
Owners of private corporations should be concerned about proposed tax changes being explored by the Department of Finance. In the Federal Budget of March 2017, Finance expressed their concern that private corporations were being used by high income Canadians to obtain tax advantages that were not available to other Canadian tax payers. That concern led to the release of a consultation paper along with draft legislation last July. Finance asked for input from interested parties and stakeholders during a consultation period that ended in October 2017.
What happens now is anyone’s guess and most likely, we will probably have to wait until the Spring to find out. There were three specific tax planning strategies employed by private corporations that the department was most concerned with: Read more
For many Canadians, the majority of their wealth is held in personally owned real estate. For most this will be limited to their principal residence, however, investment in recreational and real estate investment property also forms a substantial part of some estates. Due to the nature of real estate, it is important to utilize estate planning to realize optimum gain and minimize tax implications.
Key Considerations for Real Estate Investment
- Real estate is not a qualifying investment for the purposes of the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption.
- Leaving taxable property to a spouse through a spousal rollover in the will defers the tax until the spouse sells the property or dies.
- Apart from the principal residence, real estate often creates a need for liquidity due to capital gains, estate equalization, mortgage repayment or other considerations.
- Professional advice is often required to select the most advantageous ownership structure (i.e. personal, trust, holding company).
If you are the owner of a private corporation you should be concerned about the commentary that is coming from the Department of Finance. In the Federal Budget of March 2017, Finance expressed their concern that private corporations were being used by high income Canadians to obtain tax advantages that were not available to other Canadian tax payers. That concern has led to the release on July 18th 2017, of a consultation paper along with draft legislation. Finance is currently asking for input from interested parties and stakeholders and has stated that the consultation period will end on October 2, 2017. At this point, whatever happens after that date is anyone’s guess, but speculation is high that changes will be introduced to close what the Department perceives as abusive practices relating to private corporations.
Specifically, there are three specific tax planning strategies employed by private corporations that the department is most concerned with:
Sprinkling income using a private corporation
Income tax paid on income from a private corporation can be greatly reduced by causing that income to be received in the form of dividends by individuals who would pay tax at a much lower rate or not at all. These dividends are usually paid to adult children or other family members who are shareholders of the private corporation or to a family trust. By “sprinkling” the income in this manner the amount of income tax paid can be greatly reduced. Read more