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
As a business owner, you may be aware that when you dispose of shares in your business you could receive an exemption on all or a portion of the capital gains that ordinarily would be taxable. This is due to the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption which says that, for 2016, up to $824,176* of capital gains is exempt from taxation.
The Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE) is available to individuals who are disposing of or deemed to have disposed of:
- Qualified Small Business Corporation (QSBC) shares;
- Qualified farm property; or
- Qualified fishing property **.
Available until January 1, 2017
A New Approach
A new method of structuring an insured annuity has restored its favourable results. The new approach involves combining the prescribed annuity with a Universal Life policy.
- The UL policy is funded with a single deposit to provide lifetime coverage.
- The remaining capital is then used to purchase the prescribed life annuity.
- On the death of the insured/annuitant, the annuity income ceases
- The Universal Life policy now returns the full amount of the capital to the intended beneficiaries.
Don’t Put Off Your Decision to Buy Life Insurance
2016 is an opportune year to buy life insurance. New laws affecting the taxation of life insurance come into effect on January 1, 2017. After this date new policies will not perform as well as they do currently.
The good news is that the proceeds of life insurance policies paid at death still remain tax free. What has been affected is the amount of cash value that may accrue in a policy and the tax-free distribution of death proceeds from a life insurance policy owned in a corporation.
How will this impact your existing and future policies?
Adjustment to the Maximum Tax Actuarial Reserve
Whole Life and Universal Life policies are valuable vehicles in which to accumulate cash value. The limit of how much can be invested is governed by the Maximum Tax Actuarial Reserve (MTAR). If the cash value ever exceeds the MTAR limit, the policy is deemed to be “offside” and will be subject to accrual taxation. Read more