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
Many business owners are unaware that corporate owned life insurance combined with the Capital Dividend Account (CDA) provides an opportunity to distribute corporate surplus on the death of a shareholder to the surviving shareholders or family members tax-free.
Income earned by a corporation and then distributed to a shareholder is subject to tax integration which results in the total tax paid between the two being approximately the same as if the shareholder earned the income directly. Integration also means that if a corporation is in receipt of funds which it received tax-free, then those funds should be tax free when distributed to the shareholder.
The Capital Dividend Account is a notional account which tracks these particular tax-free amounts accumulated by the corporation. It is not shown in accounting records or financial statements of the corporation. If there is a balance in the CDA it may be shown in the notes section of the financial statements for information purposes only.
Generally, the tax-free amounts referred to, are the non-taxable portions of capital gains received by the corporation and the death benefit proceeds of life insurance policies where the corporation is the beneficiary. Read more
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? Read more
Shared Ownership refers to a concept where more than one party owns an interest in an insurance policy. The most common of these arrangements is where the corporation is the owner and beneficiary of the death benefit and the shareholder or employee owns the cash value of the policy.
Recently there has been growing interest in applying this strategy to a Critical Illness policy. Although the CI policy does not have cash value, there is usually an option to have a Return of premium (ROP) in the following situations:
- Upon death – If the insured dies without having submitted a claim for critical illness the premiums paid are refunded;
- Upon Termination – If the policy reaches its termination age without a claim being made, the premiums paid are refunded;
- Upon Surrender – If the policy is surrendered without a claim, premiums paid are refunded.