2022 Year End Tax Tips and Strategies for Business Owners

Now that we’re approaching the end of the year, it’s time to review your business finances. We’ve highlighted the most critical tax-planning tips you need to know as a business owner.

Salary/Dividend Mix

As a business owner, an essential part of tax planning is determining if you receive salary or dividends from the business.

When you’re paid a salary, the corporation can claim an income tax deduction, which reduces its taxable income. You include this pay in your personal taxable income. You’ll also create Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contribution room. 

The alternative is the corporation can distribute a dividend to you. The corporation must pay tax on its corporate income and can’t claim the dividend distributed as a deduction. However, because of the dividend tax credit, the dividend typically pays a lower tax rate (than for salary) on eligible and non-eligible dividends. 

In addition to paying yourself, you can consider paying family members. These are the main options you can consider when determining how to distribute money from your business:

  • Pay a salary to family members who work for your business and are in a lower tax bracket. This enables them to declare an income so that they can contribute to the CPP and an RRSP. You must be able to prove the family members have provided services in line with the amount of compensation you give them.

  • Pay dividends to family members who are shareholders in your company. The amount of dividends someone can receive without paying income tax on them will vary depending on the province or territory they live in.

  • Distribute money from your business via income sprinkling, which is shifting income from a high-tax rate individual to a low-rate tax individual. However, this strategy can cause issues due to tax on split income (TOSI) rules. A tax professional can help you determine the best way to “income sprinkle” so none of your family members are subject to TOSI.

  • Keep money in the corporation if neither you nor your family members need cash. Taxes can be deferred if your corporation retains income and the corporation’s tax rate is lower than your tax rate.

No matter what strategy you take to distribute money from your business, keep in mind the following:

  • Your marginal tax rate as the owner-manager.

  • The corporation’s tax rate.

  • Health and payroll taxes

  • How much RRSP contribution room do you have?

  • What you’ll have to pay in CPP contributions.

  • Other deductions and credits you’ll be eligible for (e.g., charitable donations or childcare or medical expenses).

Compensation

Another important part of year-end tax planning is determining appropriate ways to handle compensation. Compensation is financial benefits that go beyond a base salary.

These are the main things to consider when determining how you want to handle compensation:

  • Can you benefit from a shareholder loan? A shareholder loan is an agreement to borrow funds from your corporation for a specific purpose and offers deductible interest.

  • Do you need to repay a shareholder loan to avoid paying personal income tax on your borrowed amount? 

  • Is setting up an employee profit-sharing plan a better way to disburse business profits than simply paying a bonus?

  • Keep in mind that when an employee cashes out a stock option, only one party (the employee OR the employer) can claim a tax deduction on the cashed-out stock option.

  • Consider setting up a retirement compensation arrangement (RCA) to help fund your or your employee’s retirement. 

Passive Investments

One of the most common tax advantages available to Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPC) is the first $500,000 of active business income in a CCPC qualifies for the small business deduction (SBD), which reduces the corporate tax rate by 12 to 21 percent, depending on the province or territory. 

With the SBD, you can reduce your corporate tax rate, but remember that the SBD will be reduced by five dollars for every dollar of passive investment income over $50,000 your CCPC earned the previous year.

The best way to avoid losing any SBD is to ensure that the passive investment income within your associated corporation group does not exceed $50,000.

These are some of the ways you can make sure you preserve your access to the SBD:

  1. Defer the sale of portfolio investments as necessary.

  2. Adjust your investment mix to be more tax efficient. For example, you could hold more equity investments than fixed-income investments. As a result, only 50% of the gains realized on shares sold are taxable, but investment income earned on bonds is fully taxable.

  3. Invest excess funds in an exempt life insurance policy. Any investment income earned on an exempt life insurance policy is not included in your passive investment income total. 

  4. Set up an individual pension plan (IPP). An IPP is like a defined benefit pension plan and is not subject to the passive investment income rules.

Depreciable Assets

Consider speeding up the purchase of depreciable assets for year-end tax planning. A depreciable asset is a capital property on which you can claim Capital Cost Allowance (CCA).

Here’s how to make the most of tax planning with depreciable assets:

  • Make use of the Accelerated Investment Incentive. This incentive makes some depreciable assets eligible for an enhanced first-year allowance.

  • Purchase equipment such as zero-emissions vehicles and clean energy equipment eligible for a 100 percent tax write-off.

  • Consider postponing the sale of a depreciable asset if it will result in recaptured depreciation for your 2022 taxation year.

Qualified Small Business Corporation (QSBC) Share Status

Ensure your corporate shares are eligible to get you the $913,630 (for 2022) lifetime capital gains exemption (LCGE). The LCGE is $1,000,0000 for dispositions of qualified farm or fishing property.

Suppose you sell QSBC shares scheduled to close in late December 2022 to January 2023. In that case, you may want to consider deferring the sale to access a higher LCGE of $971,190 for 2023 and therefore defer the tax payable on any gain arising from the sale.

Consider taking advantage of the LCGE and restructuring your business to multiply access to the exemption with other family members. But, again, you should discuss this with us, your accountant and legal counsel to see how this can benefit you. 

Donations

Another essential part of tax planning is to make all your donations before year-end. This applies to both charitable donations and political contributions.

For charitable donations, you need to consider the best way to make your donations and the different tax advantages of each type of donation. For example, you can:

  • Donate Securities

  • Give a direct cash gift to a registered charity

  • Use a donor-advised fund account at a public foundation. A donor-advised fund is like a charitable investment account.

  • Set up a private foundation to solely represent your interests.

We can help walk you through the tax implications of these types of charitable donations.

Get year-end tax planning help from someone you can trust!

We’re here to help you with your year-end tax planning. So book a meeting with us today to learn how you can benefit from these tax tips and strategies.

Five Ways To Withdraw Money From Your Business In A Tax-Efficient Manner

Five Ways To Withdraw Money From Your Business In A Tax-Efficient Manner

You have worked long and hard to build up your business, and now you are ready to withdraw money from your business’ bank account. But you don’t want to get hit with a huge tax bill. So here are 5 ways to withdraw money from your business in a tax-efficient manner.

1) Pay Yourself And Your Family Members

You can pay yourself a salary from your business and pay any family members who work in your business. However, the salary you pay family members must not be excessive – it must be in line with what they would receive for doing the same work elsewhere.

You and your family members will be taxed at the regular personal marginal tax rates on your salaries. However, your corporation can make a deduction based on salaries paid when determining taxable income.

2) Pay Out Taxable Dividends

You can use dividends to distribute money from your corporation to both yourself and family members if everyone holds shares in your corporation. However, when distributing dividends to a shareholder, it is critical to consider both the tax on split income (TOSI) rules and the corporate attribution rules before any distribution is made.

  • TOSI rules – Under the current income tax rules, the TOSI applies the highest marginal tax rate (currently 33%) to “split income” of an individual under the age of 18. In general, an individual’s split income includes certain taxable dividends, taxable capital gains and income from partnerships or trusts. – Canada.ca

  • Corporate attribution rules – Corporate attribution rules may result in additional tax if a transfer or loan to a corporation is made to shift income to another family member. This can result in additional tax for the individual making the transfer or loan.

3) Pay Out Capital Dividends

Another way to pay out dividends is via your corporation’s capital dividend account (CDA). Money in your corporation’s CDA can be dispersed to Canadian resident shareholders as a tax-free dividend, but be sure you are clear on what can legally be allowed in your CDA before you do this.

4) Adjust Your Salary And Dividend Mix

Keeping the right mix when paying yourself a salary and paying yourself via dividends is essential. You need to consider various factors – such as your cash flow needs, earned income for RRSP contributions, and any impact on taxes and other regulatory requirements – paying out salaries and dividends can have.

5) Repay Any Outstanding Shareholder Loans

If you loaned money to your company in the form of a shareholder loan, now may be the time to have your company repay that loan. Any money you receive to settle your shareholder loan will be paid to you as a tax-free distribution.

The Takeaway

Regardless of why you need to take cash out of your business, it is crucial to plan how to withdraw the money so you can do it in the most tax-efficient manner possible. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for this, which is why talking to a professional advisor is so important.

We can help design a tax-optimized compensation strategy for you. Contact us to set up a meeting today!

Financial Planning For Self-Employed Contractors

Financial Planning for Self-Employed Contractors

Being a self-employed contractor can bring you a large cash flow and the satisfaction of being your own boss – but it can also make financial planning more complicated than being an employee.

When creating a financial plan, Self-employed contractors need to keep the following in mind:

  • Cash flow management – Knowing what money you have moving in and out of your business is essential. You never want to suddenly find out you are short on cash, especially if you are considering expanding your business.
  • Tax planning – Tax planning can be complicated for self-employed contractors. Working with a professional can help ensure you are aware of your options, such as claiming the correct tax deductions and the most tax-effective way to pay yourself.
  • Attracting and retaining good employees – Employees are looking for more than just a good paycheque; they also want a robust benefits program, work-life balance, and pension plans.
  • Risk management – You must protect yourself if something happens to you, such as being injured or falling ill. The best way to protect yourself is with the right insurance, such as disability, critical illness, and life insurance.
  • Retirement planning – As a self-employed contractor, this is a must as you won’t have a company pension plan to fall back on. You can’t work forever, so it’s essential to have a variety of income sources during your retirement years, including RRSPs, TFSAs, and an Individual Pension Plan (IPP).
  • Succession planning – This type of planning is critical and can be triggered by various events, including divorce, retirement, and your illness or death. You must put a plan in place that covers what will happen if any of these events occur. In addition, it’s essential to have the financial resources to ensure the plan can be successfully enacted.
  • Buy-sell agreement – If you are a self-employed contractor working with a partner, you must have a buy-sell agreement. This agreement stipulates what will happen if one partner leaves the business for any reason. Buy-sell agreements can be funded in various ways, including via life insurance.

The best way to ensure you’ve got a solid financial plan is to work with a good team who has your best interests in mind. No matter what aspect of financial planning you are interested in – from tax planning to succession planning – we can help you get started. So call us or contact us online today to get started!

Group Retirement Benefits

Working at an organization that offers a pension plan is one of the greatest financial advantages a Canadian can enjoy. Pension plans are designed to provide retirement income and help employees reach their retirement goals and for business owners- help retain key employees.

Pension plans can offer:

  • Employer contributions

  • Forced retirement savings for employee

There are 2 main types of pension plan:

  • Defined Benefit Plan

  • Defined Contribution Plan

Defined Benefit Plan

  • Retirement income is guaranteed, contributions are not.

  • The pension amount is based on a formula that includes the employee’s earnings and years of service with the employer

  • Usually, contributions are made by the employee and employer

  • The employer is responsible for investing the contributions to ensure there’s enough money to pay the future pensions for all plan members.

  • If there’s a shortfall, the employer pays the difference.

Defined Contribution Plan

  • Contributions are guaranteed, retirement income is not.

  • Usually, contributions are made by the employee and employer.

  • The employee is responsible for investing all contributions.

  • The amount available in retirement depends on how the investment performs including total contributions.

  • At retirement, the money in the account can be used to generate retirement income through purchasing an annuity or transferring the amount to a locked-in retirement income fund.

In summary, a defined benefits plan guarantees you a retirement income and a defined contribution plan guarantees contributions but not retirement income.

Talk to us, we can help.

2021 Year-End Tax Tips for Business Owners

2021 Year-End Tax Tips for Business Owners

Now that we’re approaching the end of the year, it’s time to review your business finances. We’ve highlighted the most critical tax-planning tips you need to know as a business owner.

Salary and Dividend Mix

As a business owner, one essential part of tax planning is determining the right mix of salary and dividends for both yourself and your family members.

The following are the main options you can consider when determining how to distribute money from your business:

  1. Pay a salary to family members who work for your business and are in a lower tax bracket – This enables them to declare an income so that they can contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). You must be able to prove the family members have provided services in line with the amount of compensation provided.

  2. Pay dividends to family members who are shareholders in your company – The amount of dividends someone can receive without paying income tax on them will vary depending on the province or territory they live in.

  3. Distribute money from your business via income sprinkling – This is shifting income from a high-tax rate individual to a low-rate tax individual. However, this strategy can cause issues due to Tax On Split Income (TOSI) rules. A tax professional can help you determine the best way to “income sprinkle” so none of your family members are subject to TOSI.

  4. Keep money in the corporation if neither you nor your family members need cash – Taxes can be deferred if your corporation retains income and the corporation’s tax rate is lower than your personal tax rate.

No matter what strategy you take to distribute money from your business, keep in mind the following:

  • Your marginal tax rate as the owner-manager.

  • The corporation’s tax rate.

  • Health and payroll taxes.

  • How much RRSP contribution room do you have.

  • What you’ll have to pay in CPP contributions.

  • Other deductions and credits you’ll be eligible for (e.g., charitable donations or childcare or medical expenses).

Compensation

An important part of year-end tax planning is determining appropriate ways to handle compensation. The following are the main things to consider:

  1. Can you benefit from a shareholder loan? A shareholder loan is an agreement to borrow funds from your corporation for a specific purpose. The interest from the loan may be deductible if the proceeds of the shareholder loan were used to produce income from business or property.

  2. Do you need to repay a shareholder loan to avoid paying personal income tax on the amount you borrowed?

  3. Is setting up an employee profit-sharing plan a better way to disburse business profits than simply paying out a bonus?

  4. Keep in mind that when an employee cashes out a stock option, only one party (the employee OR the employer) can claim a tax deduction on the cashed-out stock option.

  5. Think about setting up a Retirement Compensation Arrangement (RCA) to help fund you or your employee’s retirement.

Passive Investments

One of the most common tax advantages available to Canadian-Controlled Private Corporations (CCPC) is the Small Business Deduction (SBD).

For qualifying businesses, the SBD reduces your corporate tax rate. Keep in mind that the SBD will be reduced by five dollars for every dollar of passive investment income over $50,000 your CCPC earned the previous year.

The best way to avoid losing any of the SBD is to make sure that the passive investment income within your associated corporation group does not exceed $50,000.

These are some of the ways you can make sure you preserve your access to the SBD:

  1. Defer the sale of portfolio investments as necessary.

  2. Adjust your investment mix to be more tax efficient. For example, you could choose to hold more equity investments than fixed-income investments. Only 50% of the gains realized on shares sold is taxable, but investment income earned on bonds is fully taxable.

  3. Invest excess funds in an exempt life insurance policy. Any investment income earned on an exempt life insurance policy is not included in your passive investment income total.

  4. Set up an individual pension plan (IPP). An IPP is like a defined benefit pension plan and is not subject to the passive investment income rules.

Depreciable Assets

Another tactic you should consider for year-end tax planning is to hasten your purchase of any depreciable assets. A depreciable asset is a type of capital property that you can claim the Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) on.

These are two of the best ways to make the most of tax planning with depreciable assets:

  1. Make use of the Accelerated Investment Incentive. With this incentive, some depreciable assets are eligible for an enhanced first-year allowance.

  2. Purchase equipment such as zero-emissions vehicles and clean energy equipment eligible for a 100 percent tax write-off.

Donations

Another essential part of tax planning is to make all of your donations before year-end. This applies to both charitable donations and political contributions.

For charitable donations, you need to consider the best way to make your donations and the different tax advantages of each type of donation. For example, you can:

  • Donate securities.

  • Give a direct cash gift to a registered charity.

  • Use a donor-advised fund account at a public foundation. A donor-advised fund is like a charitable investment account.

  • Set up a private foundation to solely represent your interests.

We can help walk you through the tax implications of each of these types of charitable donations.

Make the Most of Covid-19 Relief Programs

While some COVID-19 relief programs, such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) have ended, others are still available. See if your business can benefit from any of the following relief programs:

  1. Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP). This program will continue to run until May 2022. If your business is eligible and continues to experience a decline in revenues as compared to pre-pandemic levels. In that case, the CRHP will provide support to assist in hiring new staff or increasing the wages of your existing staff.

  2. Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program. This new program provides wage and rent support to eligible businesses such as hotels and restaurants with an average monthly revenue reduction of at least 40% over the first 13 qualifying periods for the CEWS and a current month revenue loss of at least 40%.

  3. Hardest Hit Business Recovery Program. This provides rent and wage support of up to 50% for eligible entities. Eligible entities must meet two conditions – an average monthly revenue reduction of at least 50% over the first 13 qualifying periods for the CEWS and a current month revenue loss of at least 50%.

  4. General support in the event of a public health lockdown. If there is a public health lockdown and your business loses sufficient revenue, your business would be eligible for support at the same subsidy rates as the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program.

  5. Know what’s included as taxable income. If you received assistance from the government assistance programs, including the CEWS, CERS, and CRHP, this assistance is taxable as income.

Get year-end tax planning help from someone you can trust!

We’re here to help you with your year-end tax planning. Book some time with us today to learn how you can benefit from these tax tips and strategies.

The Importance of a Financial Plan

Working with us to create your financial plan helps you identify your long and short term life goals. When you have a plan, it’s easier to make decisions that align with your goals. We outline 8 key areas of financial planning:

  • Income: learn to manage your income effectively through planning

  • Cash Flow: monitoring your cash flow, will help you keep more of your cash

  • Understanding: understanding provides you an effective way to make financial decisions that align with your goals

  • Family Security: having proper coverage will provide peace of mind for your family

  • Investment: proper planning guides you in choosing the investments that fit your goals

  • Assets: learn the true value of your assets. (Assets – Liabilities)

  • Savings: life happens, it’s important to have access to an emergency fund

  • Review: reviewing on a regular basis is important to make sure your plan continues to meet your goal

Succession Planning for Business Owners

Succession Planning for Business Owners

Business owners deal with a unique set of challenges. One of these challenges includes succession planning. A succession plan is the process of the transfer of ownership, management and interest of a business. When should a business owner have a succession plan? A succession plan is required through the survival, growth and maturity stage of a business. All business owners, partners and shareholders should have a plan in place during these business stages.

We created this infographic checklist to be used as a guideline highlighting main points to be addressed when starting to succession plan.

Needs:

  • Determine your objectives- what do you want? For you, your family and your business. (Business’ financial needs)

  • What are your shares of the business worth? (Business value)

  • What are your personal financial needs- ongoing income needs, need for capital (ex. pay off debts, capital gains, equitable estate etc.)

There are 2 sets of events that can trigger a succession plan: controllable and uncontrollable.

Controllable events

Sale: Who do you sell the business to?

  • Family member

  • Manager/Employees

  • Outside Party

  • There are advantages and disadvantages for each- it’s important to examine all channels.

Retirement: When do you want to retire?

  • What are the financial and psychological needs of the business owner?

  • Is there enough? Is there a need for capital to provide for retirement income, redeem or freeze shares?

  • Does this fit into personal/retirement plan? Check tax, timing, corporate structures, finances and family dynamics. (if applicable)

Uncontrollable Events

Divorce: A disgruntled spouse can obtain a significant interest in the business.

  • What portion of business shares are held by the spouse?

  • Will the divorced spouse consider selling their shares?

  • What if the divorced spouse continues to hold interest in the business without understanding or contributing to the business?

  • If you have other partners/shareholders- would they consider working with your divorced spouse?

Illness/Disability: If you were disabled or critically ill, would your business survive?

  • Determine your ongoing income needs for you, your spouse and family. Is there enough? If there is a shortfall, is there an insurance or savings program in place to make up for the shortfall amount?

  • Will the ownership interest be retained, liquidated or sold?

  • How will the business be affected? Does the business need capital to continue operating or hire a consultant or executive? Will debts be recalled? Does the business have a savings or insurance program in place to address this?

Death: In the case of your premature death, what would happen to your business?

  • Determine your ongoing income needs for your dependents. Is there enough? If there is a shortfall, is there an insurance or savings program in place to make up for the shortfall amount?

  • Will the ownership interest be retained, liquidated or sold by your estate? Does your will address this? Is your will consistent with your wishes? What about taxes?

  • How will the business be affected? Does the business need capital to continue operating or hire a consultant or executive? Will debts be recalled? How will this affect your employees? Does the business have a savings or insurance program in place to address this?

Execution: It’s good to go through this with but you need to get a succession plan done.  Besides having a succession plan, make sure you have an estate plan and buy-sell/shareholders’ agreement.

Because a succession plan is complex, we suggest that a business owner has a professional team to help. The team should include:

  • Financial Planner/Advisor (CFP)

  • Succession Planning Specialist

  • Insurance Specialist

  • Lawyer

  • Accountant/Tax Specialist

  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)

Next steps…

  • Contact us about helping you get your succession planning in order so you can gain peace of mind that your business is taken care of.

Do you REALLY need life insurance?

You most likely do, but the more important question is, What kind? Whether you’re a young professional starting out, a devoted parent or a successful CEO, securing a life insurance policy is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make in your adult life. Most people would agree that having financial safety nets in place is a good way to make sure that your loved ones will be taken care of when you pass away. Insurance can also help support your financial obligations and even take care of your estate liabilities. The tricky part, however, is figuring out what kind of life insurance best suits your goals and needs. This quick guide will help you decide what life insurance policy is best for you, depending on who needs to benefit from it and how long you’ll need it. 

Permanent or Term? 

Life insurance can be classified into two principal types: permanent or term. Both have different strengths and weaknesses, depending on what you aim to achieve with your life insurance policy. 

Term life insurance provides death benefits for a limited amount of time, usually for a fixed number of years. Let’s say you get a 30-year term. This means you’ll only pay for each year of those 30 years. If you die before the 30-year period, then your beneficiaries shall receive the death benefits they are entitled to. After the period, the insurance shall expire. You will no longer need to pay premiums, and your beneficiaries will no longer be entitled to any benefits.

Term life insurance is right for you if you are: 

  • The family breadwinner. Death benefits will replace your income for the years that you will have been working, in order to support your family’s needs.

  • A stay-at-home parent. You can set your insurance policy term to cover the years that your child will need financial support, especially for things that you would normally provide as a stay-at-home parent, such as childcare services.

  • A divorced parent. Insurance can cover the cost of child support, and the term can be set depending on how long you need to make support payments.

  • A mortgagor. If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, you can set up your term insurance to cover the years that you have to make payments. This way, your family won’t have to worry about losing their home.

  • A debtor with a co-signed debt. If you have credit card debt or student loans, a term life insurance policy can cover your debt payments. The term can be set to run for the duration of the payments. 

  • A business owner. If you’re a business owner, you may need either a term or permanent life insurance, depending on your needs. If you’re primarily concerned with paying off business debts, then a term life insurance may be your best option. 

Unlike term life insurance, a permanent life insurance does not expire. This means that your beneficiaries can receive death benefits no matter when you die. Aside from death benefits, a permanent life insurance policy can also double as a savings plan. A certain portion of your premiums can build cash value, which you may “withdraw” or borrow for future needs. You can do well with a permanent life insurance policy if you: 

  • …Have a special needs child. As a special needs child will most likely need support for health care and other expenses even as they enter adulthood. Your permanent life insurance can provide them with death benefits any time within their lifetime.

  • …Want to leave something for your loved ones. Regardless of your net worth, permanent life insurance will make sure that your beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to. If you have a high net worth, permanent life insurance can take care of estate taxes. Otherwise, they will still get even a small inheritance through death benefits.

  • …Want to make sure that your funeral expenses are covered. Final expense insurance can provide coverage for funeral expenses for smaller premiums.

  • …Have maximized your retirement plans. As permanent life insurance may also come with a savings component, this can also be used to help you out during retirement.

  • …Own a business. As mentioned earlier, business owners may need either permanent or term, depending on their needs.

A permanent insurance policy can help pay off estate taxes, so that the successors can inherit the business worry-free. Different people have different financial needs, so there is no one-sized-fits-all approach to choosing the right insurance policy for you. Talk to us now, and find out how a permanent or term life insurance can best give you security and peace of mind. 

Government of Canada to allow up to $400 for home office expenses

For the 2020 tax year, the Government of Canada introduced a temporary flat rate method to allow Canadians working from home this year due to Covid-19 to claim expenses of up to $400. Taxpayers will still be able to claim under the existing rules if they choose using the detailed method.

Eligibility

From the canada.ca website:

Each employee working from home who meets the eligibility criteria can use the temporary flat rate method to calculate their deduction for home office expenses.

To use this method to claim the home office expenses you paid, you must meet all of the following conditions:

  • You worked from home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • You worked more than 50% of the time from home for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020

  • You are only claiming home office expenses and are not claiming any other employment expenses

  • Your employer did not reimburse you for all of your home office expensesWhat if your employer has reimbursed you for some of your home office expenses

You need to meet all of the above conditions to be eligible to use the Temporary flat rate method.

New eligible expenses

For the detailed method, the CRA has expanded the list of eligible expenses that can be claimed as work-space-in-the-home expenses to include reasonable home internet access fees. A comprehensive list of eligible home office expenses has also been created.

Business Owners: 2020 Tax Planning Tips for the End of the Year

It’s a great time to review your business finances now that we are nearing year-end. Your business may be affected by recent tax changes or new measures to help with financial losses due to COVID-19. Figuring out the tax ramifications of these new measures can be complicated, so please don’t hesitate to consult your accountant and us to determine how this may affect your business finances.

We’re assuming that your corporate year-end is December 31. If it’s not, then this information will be useful when your business year-end comes up.

Below, we have listed some of the critical areas to consider and provide you with some helpful guidelines to make sure that you cover all the essentials. We have divided our tax planning tips into four sections:

  • Year-end tax checklist

  • Remuneration

  • Business tax

  • Estate

Business Year-End Tax Checklist

Remuneration

  • Salary/dividend mix

  • Accruing your salary/bonus

  • Stock option plan

  • Tax-free amounts

  • Paying family members

  • COVID-19 wage subsidy measures for employers

Business Tax

  • Claiming the small business deduction

  • Shareholder loans

  • Passive investment income including eligible and ineligible dividends

  • Corporate reorganization

Estate

  • Will review

  • Succession plan

  • Lifetime capital gains exemption

Remuneration

What is your salary and dividend mix?

Individuals who own incorporated businesses can elect to receive their income as either salary or as dividends. Your choice will depend on your situation. Consider the following factors:

  • Your current and future cash flow needs

  • Your personal income level

  • The corporation’s income level

  • Tax on income splitting (TOSI) rules. When TOSI rules apply, be aware that dividends are taxed at the highest marginal tax rate.

  • Passive investment income rules

Also consider the difference between salary and dividends:

Salary

  • Can be used for RRSP contribution

  • Reduces corporate tax bill

  • Subject to payroll tax

  • Subject to CPP contribution

  • Subject to EI contribution

Dividend

  • Does not provide RRSP contribution

  • Does not reduce a corporate tax bill

  • No tax withholdings

  • No CPP contribution

  • No EI Insurance contribution

  • Depending on the province¹, receive up to $50,000 of eligible dividends at a low tax rate provided you have no other sources of income

¹The amount and tax rate will vary based on province/territory you live in.

It’s worth considering ensuring that you receive a salary high enough to take full advantage of the maximum RRSP annual contribution that you can make. For 2020, salaries of $154,611 will provide the maximum RRSP room of $27,830 for 2021.

Is it worth accruing your salary or bonus this year?

You could consider accruing your salary or bonus in the current year but delaying payment of it until the following year. If your company’s year-end is December 31, your corporation will benefit from a deduction for the year 2020. The source deductions are not required to be remitted until actual salary or bonus payment in 2021.

Stock Option Plan

If your compensation includes stock options, check if you will be affected by the stock option rules that went into effect on January 1, 2020. These new rules cap the amount of specific employee stock options eligible for the stock option deduction at $200,000 as of January 1, 2020. These rules will not affect you if a Canadian controlled private corporation grants your stock options.

Tax-Free Amounts

If you own your corporation, pay yourself tax-free amounts if you can. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Pay yourself rent if the company occupies space in your home.

  • Pay yourself capital dividends if your company has a balance in its capital dividend account.

  • Return “paid-up capital” that you have invested in your company

Do you employ members of your family?

Employing and paying a salary to family members who work for your incorporated business is worth considering. You could receive a tax deduction against the salary you pay them, providing that the salary is “reasonable” with the work done. In 2020, the individual can earn up to $13,229 (increased for 2020 from $12,298) and pay no federal tax. This also provides the individual with RRSP contribution room, CPP and allows for child-care deductions. Bear in mind there are additional costs incurred when employing someone, such as payroll taxes and contributions to CPP.

COVID-19 wage subsidy measures for employers

To deal with the financial hardships introduced by COVID-19, the federal government introduced two wage subsidy measures:

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program. With this, you can receive a subsidy of up to 85% of eligible remuneration that you paid between March 15 and December 19, 2020, if you had a decrease in revenue over this period. You must submit your application for the CEWS no later than January 31, 2021.

  • The Temporary Wage Subsidy (TWS) program. With this program, which reduces the amount of payroll deductions you needed to remit to the CRA, you can qualify for a subsidy equal to 10% of any remuneration that you paid between March 18, 2020, and June 19, 2020. You can claim up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 in total.

You can apply for both programs if you are eligible. If you qualify for the TWS but did not reduce your payroll remittances, you can still apply. The CRA will then either pay the subsidy amount to you or transfer it over to your next year’s remittance.

Business Tax

Claiming the Small Business Deduction

Are you able to claim a small business deduction? The federal small business tax rate decreased to 9% in 2019. It did not increase in 2020, nor is it expected to increase in 2021. From a provincial level, there will be changes in the following provinces:

Therefore, a small business deduction in 2020 is worth more than in 2021 for these provinces.

Should you repay any shareholder loans?

Borrowing funds from your corporation at a low or zero interest rate means that you are considered to have received a taxable benefit at the CRA’s 1% prescribed interest rate, less actual interest that you pay during the year or thirty days after the end of the year. You need to include the loan in your income tax return unless it is repaid within one year after the end of your corporation’s taxation year.

For example, if your company has a December 31 year-end and loaned you funds on November 1, 2020, you must repay the loan by December 31, 2021; otherwise, you will need to include the loan as taxable income on your 2020 personal tax return.

Passive investment income

If your corporation has a December year-end, then 2020 will be the second taxation year that the current passive investment income rules may apply to your company.

New measures were introduced in the 2018 federal budget relating to private businesses, which earn passive investment income in a corporation that also operates an active business.

There are two key parts to this:

  • Limiting access to dividend refunds. Essentially, a private company will be required to pay ineligible dividends to receive dividend refunds on some taxes. In the past, these could have been refunded when an eligible dividend was paid.

  • Limiting the small business deduction. This means that, for impacted companies, the small business deduction will be reduced at a rate of $5 for every $1 of investment income over $50,000. It is eliminated if investment income exceeds $150,000. Ontario and New Brunswick are not following these federal rules. Therefore, the provincial small business deduction is still available for income up to $500,000 annually.

Suppose your corporation earns both active business and passive investment income. In that case, you should contact your accountant and us directly to determine if there are any planning opportunities to minimize the new passive investment income rules’ impact. For example, you can consider a “buy and hold” strategy to help defer capital gains.

Think about when to pay dividends and dividend type

When choosing to pay dividends in 2020 or 2021, you should consider the following:

  • Difference between the yearly tax rate

  • Impact of tax on split income

  • Impact of passive investment income rules

Except for two provinces, Quebec and Alberta, the combined top marginal tax rates will not change from 2020 to 2021 at a provincial level. Therefore, it will not make a difference for most locations if you choose to pay in 2020 or 2021.

In Quebec and Alberta, as there will be increases in the combined marginal tax rate, you will have potential tax savings available if you choose to pay dividends in 2020 rather than 2021.

When deciding to pay a dividend, you will need to decide whether to pay out eligible or ineligible dividends. Consider the following:

  • Dividend refund claim limits: Eligible refundable dividend tax on hand (ERDTOH) vs Ineligible Refundable dividend tax on hand (NRDTOH)

  • Personal marginal tax rate of eligible vs. ineligible dividends (see chart below)

Given the passive investment income rules, typically, it makes sense to pay eligible dividends to deplete the ERDTOH balance before paying ineligible dividends. (Please note that ineligible dividends can also trigger a refund from the ERDTOH account.)

Eligible dividends are taxed at a lower personal tax rate than ineligible dividends (based on top combined marginal tax rate). However, keep in mind that when ineligible dividends are paid out, they are subject to the small business deduction; therefore, the dividend gross-up is 15% while eligible dividends are subject to the general corporate tax rate, a dividend gross-up is 38%. It’s important to talk to a professional to determine what makes the most sense when selecting the type of dividend to pay out of your corporation.

Corporate Reorganization

It might be time to revisit your corporate structure, given recent changes to private corporation rules on income splitting and passive investment income to provide more control on dividend income distribution.

Before you issue dividends to other shareholders in your private company (this includes your spouse, children, or other relatives), review the TOSI rules’ impact with us or your tax and legal advisors.

Another reason to reassess your structure is to segregate investment assets from your operating company for asset protection. You don’t want to trigger TOSI, so make sure you structure this properly. If you are considering succession planning, this is the time to evaluate your corporate structure as well.

Another aspect of corporate reorganization can be loss consolidation – where you consolidate losses from within related corporate groups.

Estate

Ensure your will is up to date

If your estate plan includes an intention for your family members to inherit your business using a trust, ensure that this plan is still tax-effective; income tax changes from January 1, 2016 eliminated the taxation at graduated rates in testamentary trusts and now taxes these trusts at the top marginal personal income tax rate. Review your will to ensure that any private company shares that you intend to leave won’t be affected by the most recent TOSI rules.

Succession plan

Consider a succession plan to ensure your business is transferred to your children, key employees or outside party in a tax-efficient manner.

Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption

If you sell your qualified small business corporation shares, you can qualify for the lifetime capital gains exemption (In 2020, the exemption is $883,384), where the gain is entirely exempt from tax. The exemption is a cumulative lifetime exemption; therefore, you don’t have to claim the entire amount at once.

The issues we discussed above can be complicated. Contact your accountant and us if you have any questions. We can help.