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Holding Investments In Your Corporation

Holding Investments in your Corporation

Traditional tax plans have hit a snag with the 2018 federal budget when it comes to holding investments in your corporation if that corporation uses the small business deduction. However, there are strategies that continue to allow for this.

Dividends in Alberta are taxed depending on the tax rate paid by the corporation issuing the dividend. If you have a small business that qualifies for the small business deduction (SBD), that corporation would be subject to 12% tax in Alberta on the first $500,000 of taxable active business income earned.  A dividend issued to an individual from that corporation would be subject to 16.02% to 42.47% tax in 2019 (14.86% to 41.54% in 2018).  This is considered an other than eligible dividend.

The 2018 federal budget has limited access to the SBD for corporations holding earning passive income. Passive income includes rents, royalties, dividends and interest – or more specifically income that is not active business income.  While $50,000 in passive income is permitted without penalty – each dollar above that mark will decrease access to the SBD by $5.  As such, a corporation that earns $150,000 is have their entire SBD clawed back and be subject to the general corporate tax rate.

It is important to note that the first $50,000 in passive income can be earned without penalty – and then the $500,000 limit starts to get clawed back.  If you are not utilizing the full $500,000 limit, an annual calculation may be all that is needed to be aware of you standing.

Corporations that do not qualify for the small business deduction are subject to the general corporate tax rate of 27% in Alberta.  A dividend issued to an individual from that corporation would be subject to -0.03% to 31.71% tax in 2019 (-0.03% to 31.71% in 2018).  This is considered an eligible dividend.

The integration of these rates varies between tax brackets. Two example, the first assuming the highest personal tax bracket and the second assuming a marginal tax bracket as this being the only income earned by the investor illustrates the overall relatively minor variances in overall tax paid.

Using Highest Personal RateSBDGeneral Rate
Revenue200,000 200,000
Expenses100,000100,000
Net Income Before Tax100,000100,000
Tax Rate12%27%
Corporate Tax12,00027,000
Net Income 88,00073,000
Available to Dividend(88,000)(73,000)
Personal Tax Rate 42.74%31.74%
Personal Tax37,611 23,170
Total Tax Paid49,611 50,170
Using Highest Personal RateSBDGeneral Rate
Revenue200,000 200,000
Expenses100,000100,000
Net Income Before Tax100,000100,000
Tax Rate12%27%
Corporate Tax12,00027,000
Net Income 88,00073,000
Available to Dividend(88,000)(73,000)
Personal Tax Rate marginalmarginal
Personal Tax16,649 3,038
Total Tax Paid28,649 30,038

The traditional strategy resulted in active business income being retained in the corporation to earn passive income via large cap stock or rental investments that earned passive income. As those investments were subject to the high rate of tax – the dividend once distributed at the personal level would be an eligible dividend and result in an overall tax savings with an incentive to save within the corporation.  This strategy continues to be relevant with the first $50,000 in passive income earned within the active business or up to the clawed back SBD limit being utilized by that business.

Where additional passive income is anticipated, the utilization of a whole life policy with high cash surrender values should be considered.  These somewhat sophisticated plans may also be beneficial where the $50,000 in passive income has not yet been achieved.

Shajani LLP CPAs would be happy to consult on an appropriate plan. 

To understand the traditional (and at times still relevant) strategy along with a contemporary plan, a recap of integration rules would be beneficial.

This information is for discussion purposes only and should not be considered professional advice. There is no guarantee or warrant of information on this site and it should be noted that rules and laws change regularly. You should consult a professional before considering implementing or taking any action based on information on this site. Call our team for a consultation before taking any action.

Nizam Shajani

I enjoy formulating plans that help my clients meet their objectives. It's this sense of pride in service that facilitates client success which forms the culture of Shajani LLP.

Shajani Professional Accountants has offices in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta. We’re here to support you in all of your personal and business tax and other accounting needs.