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Integrated Tax Planning

By Nizam Shajani, CPA, CA, MBA

The perception of tax planning has often been misconceived as a simple choice between dividends and salary from an owner managed business.  The decision should consider a number of variances – one such consideration being integration.

The Canadian tax system is designed to equalize the combined corporate and personal tax rate paid regardless of how this was earned.  This attempt to equalize the tax treatment is called integration.

Integration often does not work perfectly and often leaves room for planning.  With changes occurring each year, revising your tax planning annually to verify optimization is prudent to minimizing your tax burden.

In Alberta, the combined federal and provincial corporate tax rate for businesses has decreased – as has four of the individual personal income tax brackets.  However, the highest marginal personal tax rate remains at a whopping 48%.  The recent changes in tax rules under TOSI and passive income are also reason for small and medium sized business owners to ensure their plan are optimized.

Personal rate changes on eligible and non-eligible dividends have also changed and left disintegration opportunities.  At the top marginal rate in Alberta – eligible dividends (largely for dividends received from corporations that paid the large corporate tax rate) are taxed at 34.31% and non-eligible dividends (for dividends received from corporations that paid the small business rate) are taxed at 42.31%.  However, dividend tax rates change progressively as individual taxable income changes and can be as low as 2.57% for income below $49,020 for eligible dividends and 15.86% for non-eligible dividends.

Cash flow considerations are also considered – where funds not needed personally can be reinvested within the corporation to allow for a tax deferred growth that may find a more efficient way to take funds out in future years – such as reinvesting income earned at the small business rate into a large business that pays a dividend or capital gain and then withdrawing those funds at the lower tax rates.  This should be considered along with other variances such as anticipated future cash flows and income splitting opportunities where available and the new passive income rules that impact availability of the small business corporate tax rate.

The changes necessitate small business owners to plan for remuneration in both the near and longer term.  At Shajani, we are happy to provide you with a personalized consultation on how to take money out of your corporation tax efficiently.  Our integrated approach will go beyond what you may be used to at traditional firms by collaborating with financial planners, lawyers and other service providers in a unique team based approach to provide both a tax efficient plan and a means to implement the plan.


2021 Integration table for funds taken at the highest tax bracket (Alberta Illustration Only)


2021 Integration
  Salary Only Small Business
Dividend Only
General Business
Dividend Only
Revenue          200,000                200,000                  200,000
Expenses          100,000                100,000                  100,000
Salary          100,000                            –                              –
Income before tax                     –                100,000                  100,000
Corporate tax                     –                  11,000                     23,000
Income available to distribute                     –                  89,000                     77,000
Dividend                     –                  89,000                     77,000
Personal Tax on Dividend                     –                  37,656                     26,419
Personal Tax on Salary            48,000                            –                              –
Cash in hand            52,000                  51,344                     50,581
Total Tax Paid            48,000                  48,656                     49,419

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. © 2020 Shajani LLP

Nizam Shajani, Partner, LLM, CPA, CA, TEP, MBA

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 CPA.

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.