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Navigating New Tax-Filing Obligations for Trusts in 2024: A guide for High-Net-Worth Canadians

Introduction: Navigating the New Era of Trust Reporting in Canada

In the constantly evolving world of financial regulations and tax laws, 2024 marks a significant turning point for trusts in Canada. As we step into this new era, the landscape of trust administration and reporting is experiencing substantial changes that bring new challenges and responsibilities for trustees. These changes are particularly poignant for high-net-worth families and owners of family enterprises who rely on trusts as a cornerstone of their estate planning and wealth management strategies.

At the heart of these changes are the new trust reporting requirements instituted by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Effective for the taxation years following December 31, 2023, these requirements mandate more comprehensive and detailed reporting for a broader range of trusts, including those previously exempt from such scrutiny. The introduction of these new rules aims to enhance transparency, combat tax evasion, and align Canada’s practices with global standards in financial reporting and anti-money laundering efforts.

In this guide, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the new trust reporting requirements, the impact on different types of trusts, particularly bare trusts, and the steps necessary for compliance. We will delve into the specifics of the new rules, the exemptions, the potential pitfalls, and the practical steps you can take to ensure your trust meets its reporting obligations effectively and efficiently.

Whether you are a seasoned trustee or new to trust administration, this guide is designed to help you navigate these changes with clarity and confidence. Let’s embark on this journey together, ensuring that your trust remains compliant, your assets are protected, and your financial legacy is secured.


Section 1: Overview of New Tax Regulations for Trusts

The landscape of trust taxation in Canada is witnessing a significant shift as we cross into the new year. Effective for the taxation years following December 30, 2023, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is introducing comprehensive changes that will affect a wide array of trusts. Herein, we examine the nuances of these changes and the implications for trustees and beneficiaries.

Historically, not all trusts were obligated to file an annual T3 Trust Income Tax and Information Return. The new rules, however, cast a much wider net, bringing many previously exempt trusts into the reporting fold. Unless specific conditions are met, all trusts are now mandated to file a T3 return. This change heralds a more transparent era in trust reporting, aimed at curbing financial opacity and preventing the misuse of trusts for tax evasion or other illicit activities.

One of the pivotal elements of the new filing requirements is the completion of Schedule 15, which is integrated into the T3 return. This schedule is the conduit through which detailed information about the trust’s beneficiaries, settlors, and trustees is disclosed, painting a clear picture of the parties involved and the nature of their interest in the trust.

A significant point to note is the inclusion of bare trusts under the ambit of these new reporting rules. Bare trusts, which are characterized by the trustee’s role as merely nominal — holding legal title to the trust property and acting under the direct instruction of the beneficiary — are now unequivocally required to file T3 returns. This marks a substantial departure from previous practices, where the simplicity of bare trusts often meant they flew under the radar of such tax reporting obligations.

The scope of the new rules is extensive. A trust that is resident in Canada, which could include deemed resident trusts, must file if it is an express trust, which is a trust created with the explicit intention of the settlor, as opposed to one established by law or judgment. The legislation casts a wide net, capturing both resident and non-resident trusts, including listed trusts, under specific conditions.

The conditions triggering the requirement for a trust to file are varied. They include situations where the trust has tax payable, has been requested to file by the CRA, or is a deemed resident trust. Additionally, if a trust, resident in Canada, has disposed of or is deemed to have disposed of a capital property or has a taxable capital gain — such as from the sale of a principal residence or shares of a corporation — it must file. The same goes for non-resident trusts that realize a taxable capital gain or dispose of taxable Canadian property.

Moreover, the reporting requirements extend to trusts that provide a benefit exceeding $100 to a beneficiary for the maintenance of property intended for the beneficiary’s use. Furthermore, if a trust allocates income, gain, or profit to one or more beneficiaries, and the trust has total income exceeding $500, income of more than $100 allocated to any single beneficiary, made a distribution of capital, or allocated income to a non-resident beneficiary, it is required to file a T3 return.

In summary, the new reporting obligations for trusts aim to enhance the integrity of the tax system and ensure fairness. They necessitate a proactive approach from trustees and demand meticulous attention to the trusts’ activities and their beneficiaries’ interests. For high-net-worth families and their enterprises, these changes underscore the importance of vigilant tax planning and administration. It is a clarion call for trustees to scrutinize their trust arrangements and ensure compliance with the updated reporting requirements.


Section 2: The Impact of New Trust-Filing Requirements

The wave of change brought about by the latest trust-filing requirements is poised to ripple through the Canadian tax landscape, affecting a diverse group of taxpayers. These changes, while aiming to tighten the noose on tax evasion and enhance the anti-money-laundering regime, cast a wide net, capturing many individuals in its scope — some unsuspecting and potentially unprepared for the associated administrative and financial burdens.

Trusts that were previously passive on the sidelines of tax filing must now step into the arena of annual documentation. With the new rules in effect for trust taxation years after December 31, 2023, trustees find themselves navigating a more complex compliance pathway. The once-silent narrative of many trusts, particularly bare trusts, is now being rewritten to include detailed accounts of their activities and beneficiaries.

The completion of Schedule 15 as part of the T3 return brings to light the full spectrum of a trust’s anatomy — disclosing not just the income and distributions, but also painting a vivid portrait of the trust’s settlor, trustees, and beneficiaries. This requirement for transparency is not without its consequences. For many Canadians, some of whom may have been oblivious to their status within a trust, the revelation comes with the need for tax consultations, legal advice, and inevitably, the outlay of professional fees.

The cost implications are non-trivial. Tax experts estimate that engaging accountants and tax lawyers to comply with these obligations will impose a financial burden — likely starting at a threshold of $1,600 annually for each T3 return. This figure can escalate rapidly, depending on the complexity of the trust and the intricacies involved in establishing the required information for filing. The expense, while burdensome for any taxpayer, can be particularly acute for high-net-worth individuals managing multiple trust arrangements.

The broad application of the new rules means that even bare trusts, characterized by their simplicity and direct control by beneficiaries, are not exempt from these reporting obligations. The subtlety of bare trusts, often

crafted without formal documentation, poses a unique challenge. Many Canadians may find themselves part of a bare trust arrangement simply by having their name added to the title of a property or a bank account for administrative convenience, without realizing the tax implications that follow.

For family-owned enterprises and affluent families, this can be especially pertinent. Common arrangements, such as holding title to an aging parent’s home for ease of succession, or parents co-signing a mortgage and thus holding title to their adult child’s property, may now be classified as bare trusts with an accompanying obligation to file a T3 return. These scenarios underscore the latent tax responsibilities that can arise from seemingly innocuous estate planning or financial assistance strategies.

The consequence of non-compliance is not just the cost of filing itself but also the risk of penalties for late or incorrect filings. While the Canada Revenue Agency has indicated a temporary waiver of late-filing penalties for bare trusts for the 2023 tax year, this grace period is not an exemption from filing. It is a temporary reprieve, allowing trustees and beneficiaries time to acclimate to the new requirements.

For the uninitiated, the compliance landscape can be daunting. Many Canadians, particularly those without sophisticated tax advisory support, may be caught off-guard. The obligations extend beyond mere filing; trustees must now ensure that the trust’s activities, and their reporting of it, are accurate and complete. Even in cases where no tax is owed by the trust, the requirement to file remains — a point that may elude many until they are well within the scope of the CRA’s oversight.

In light of these developments, it becomes critical for those involved in trust activities, directly or indirectly, to seek expert advice. High-net-worth families, in particular, must engage with tax professionals who can navigate the intricate new rules, ensuring compliance and mitigating the risk of costly penalties. The new era of trust taxation is upon us, and with it, the necessity for diligent tax planning and meticulous record-keeping has never been more pronounced.


Section 3: Understanding Trusts and Bare Trusts

The concept of a trust is a cornerstone in the management of family wealth and estate planning. In essence, a trust is a fiduciary relationship in which one party, known as the settlor, gives another party, the trustee, the right to hold title to property or assets for the benefit of a third party, the beneficiaries. Trusts are traditionally used for wealth protection, ensuring the smooth transfer of assets, and, in some instances, tax planning. However, as the tax landscape evolves, so too does the scrutiny applied to these vehicles, particularly bare trusts, under the new trust reporting rules.

Bare Trusts Defined:

Bare trusts represent the most fundamental form of trust arrangements. In a bare trust, the trustee’s role is largely passive; they are considered to act merely as an agent for the beneficiaries, dealing with the trust’s property as directed. The trustee of a bare trust has no significant powers or responsibilities beyond holding legal title to the property. They cannot take independent actions without explicit instructions from the beneficiary, thus their function is nominal — to hold title and to act upon the beneficiary’s instructions.

This type of trust arrangement is common in family relationships or between individuals and entities where there is a high degree of trust and a desire for uncomplicated management of certain assets. Examples include parents holding property in trust for their children or business partners holding shares of a company in trust for one another.

New Reporting Obligations for Bare Trusts:

Under the new trust reporting rules, bare trusts are not spared. The trustee of a bare trust is now required to file a T3 Trust Income Tax and Information Return. This is a significant shift from past practice, where bare trusts often operated under the radar of such detailed reporting requirements.

Additionally, these trusts must also file Schedule 15 annually, which serves to disclose detailed information about the trust’s activities and the parties involved. It is crucial to note that this requirement applies unless the trust qualifies as a listed trust, which is subject to different reporting standards.

A pivotal procedural step for trustees of bare trusts is the requirement to register for a trust number with the CRA. This formalizes the trust’s existence in the eyes of the tax authorities and serves as an identifier for all subsequent filings and interactions with the CRA. This registration is a one-time process, but it lays the foundation for the ongoing annual filing obligations.

The implication of these new rules is profound for trustees of bare trusts. They must now maintain records not only of the trust’s income and distributions but also of the instructions received from beneficiaries, as these underpin all actions taken by the trustee. The administrative burden has increased, and with it, the need for meticulous record-keeping and reporting.

Navigating the New Landscape:

For high-net-worth individuals and family enterprises, the increased transparency required for bare trusts necessitates a review of all such arrangements to ensure compliance. Trustees must be cognizant of their enhanced responsibilities and the need for accurate and timely filing.

The changes to trust reporting emphasize the importance of professional guidance in managing trusts. Engaging with tax experts and legal advisors will help trustees navigate these complexities, ensuring that all reporting obligations are met and that trusts continue to serve their intended purpose without unintended tax consequences or compliance issues.

In conclusion, the changes to the reporting of bare trusts are a clear indication of the direction in which the CRA is moving — towards greater transparency and accountability in the management and reporting of trusts. For those involved in bare trusts, the call to action is clear: review, register, and report. By doing so, trustees can ensure that their trusts remain compliant, beneficial, and aligned with the objectives of the settlors and the interests of the beneficiaries.


Section 4: Penalties and Relief for Non-Compliance with Trust Filing Requirements

The new trust filing requirements carry with them a regime of penalties for non-compliance, designed to encourage timely and accurate reporting. Under subsection 162(7) of the Canadian Income Tax Act, the failure to file penalty is substantial: $25 for each day the T3 return and associated Schedule 15 are late, with a minimum penalty of $100 and capping at $2,500. These penalties can accrue quickly, becoming a significant financial burden for trustees who delay or overlook their filing obligations.

For many trustees of bare trusts, this may be the first year they are encountering the obligation to file a T3 return. Recognizing this transition, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has provided a measure of relief specifically for bare trusts for the 2023 tax year. This proactive relief acknowledges that bare trusts did not have an obligation to file in years prior to the 2023 tax year. Consequently, for the 2023 tax year, late-filing penalties for bare trusts that file their T3 return and Schedule 15 after the deadline will be waived.

This relief, however, is narrowly tailored. It is exclusively for bare trusts and only for the 2023 tax year, serving as a one-time educational grace period to allow trustees to become familiar with the new requirements. It is crucial for trustees to understand that this is not an exemption from filing altogether but a temporary suspension of the late-filing penalties.

Trustees should be aware that this relief will not apply in all circumstances. If the CRA determines that the failure to file was made knowingly, or due to gross negligence, the penalties escalate significantly. In such cases, the penalty is the greater of $2,500 or 5% of the highest fair market value (FMV) of the property held by the trust at any time during the year. This steep penalty reflects the severity with which the CRA views willful or negligent non-compliance and serves as a stark warning to trustees to take their filing duties seriously.

The distinction between inadvertent non-compliance and intentional or negligent behavior is a critical one. It underscores the importance for trustees to not only file on time but to do so with diligence and accuracy. Given the potential for significant penalties, trustees must ensure that they are fully informed of the trust’s activities and assets, and that they maintain detailed and accurate records throughout the year.

For high-net-worth individuals and those managing family-owned enterprises, the implications are clear: the oversight of trusts must be diligent and proactive. It is advisable for trustees to engage with tax professionals well in advance of the filing deadline to review their trust arrangements, assess their filing requirements, and prepare the necessary documentation. By doing so, trustees can avoid the pitfalls of non-compliance and ensure that their trusts continue to operate as effective vehicles for managing and transferring wealth.

In summary, while the CRA has offered a temporary reprieve from penalties for the 2023 tax year for bare trusts, trustees must not be complacent. The relief is a one-time offer, and it does not extend to cases of intentional or grossly negligent non-filing. Trustees should take this opportunity

to acclimatize to the new requirements, establish robust reporting processes, and seek professional advice to navigate this complex regulatory environment. Looking beyond 2023, it is imperative to maintain strict adherence to filing deadlines and to uphold the highest standards of accuracy and transparency in all trust reporting to the CRA.

Section 5: Detailed Guide for Filing Schedule 15 for Bare Trusts

The nuances of trust reporting have broadened with the introduction of Schedule 15, which has become a crucial component of the T3 Trust Income Tax and Information Return. Except for listed trusts, every trust that is obligated to file a T3 return is required to complete this schedule. The intricacies of Schedule 15 lie in its demand for comprehensive information about all reportable entities associated with the trust throughout the year, including trustees, settlors, beneficiaries, and any controlling persons.

Understanding Reportable Entities:

For Schedule 15, a reportable entity refers to any individual or entity that has had a role or control in the trust, even if only for part of the tax year. Given the reach of these rules, trustees must be vigilant in tracking the involvement of all such entities from the beginning to the end of the year.

Completing Schedule 15 for Bare Trusts:

Bare trusts, with their unique structure and operation, present specific challenges in the context of these new reporting rules. Not all information requested on the T3 return may be directly applicable to bare trusts, given their straightforward nature. However, trustees are still required to navigate the filing process diligently. Here is a step-by-step guide tailored to assist in completing the T3 return for bare trusts:

  1. Step 1 – Identification and Other Information:
  • Select code 307 to indicate a “bare trust” on the T3 return.
  • If not previously submitted, attach trust documents to the CRA filing for verification.
  1. Final Return Information:
  • If the trust has been terminated or wound up within the year, indicate the applicable date.
  1. Page Two Questions:
  • Answer all questions on the second page of the T3 return, ensuring all information reflects the nature and activities of the bare trust.
  1. Step 5 – Summary of Tax and Credits:
  • Complete this section with the relevant tax details and any applicable credits.
  1. Certification:
  • Fill in the name and address of the person or company who prepared the return.
  • Ensure the “certification” part is duly signed, confirming the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.
  1. Schedule 15 Completion:
  • Fill out all parts of Schedule 15, providing detailed information for each reportable entity.
  • It is important to note that the income derived from the trust property should be reported on the beneficial owner’s personal income tax return.
  1. Filing Deadline:
  • For the 2023 tax year, where the trust’s tax year ends on December 31, 2023, the standard filing deadline of March 30, 2024, has been extended to April 2, 2024, which is the first business day after the original deadline.

Exclusions and Simplifications for Bare Trusts:

Considering the straightforward nature of bare trusts, where the trustee acts only upon instructions and the beneficial owner retains control and enjoys the benefits, certain parts of the T3 return may not be applicable. After completing Schedule 15 and the essential sections, trustees can leave the remaining parts of the T3 return blank, as the income from the trust property is to be reported directly by the beneficial owner.

The mandate to complete Schedule 15 represents a critical shift towards greater transparency in trust operations. For trustees of bare trusts, the process requires a meticulous approach to ensure compliance without overcomplicating the inherent simplicity of such trusts. By following the guidelines provided and taking advantage of professional tax advice, trustees can navigate these reporting requirements with confidence, ensuring that all necessary information is accurately disclosed to the CRA.

Section 6: Potential Costs of Compliance

The introduction of the new trust reporting rules has brought about a significant financial consideration for trustees, particularly of bare trusts, which have traditionally enjoyed a more streamlined approach. With the obligation to file a detailed T3 Trust Income Tax and Information Return, including Schedule 15, there are now potential costs associated with ensuring compliance with these new requirements.

Understanding the Compliance Costs:

The direct costs relate to the professional services required to complete and file the necessary documentation correctly. Accounting and legal fees vary widely depending on the complexity of the trust and the extent of the reporting required. For bare trusts, even though the trust structure is simple, the compliance has become more complex and, therefore, potentially more expensive.

Based on the estimates provided by tax professionals, the starting cost for preparing and filing a T3 return with Schedule 15 is around $1,000. However, this is a baseline figure. Given the intricacies and potential complexities that can arise, especially with the identification and detailed reporting of all reportable entities, costs can escalate. For instance, if the trust has multiple beneficiaries, or if there are changes in trustees or beneficiaries within the tax year, additional work is required to accurately report these changes. This additional work can result in higher fees, and it would not be uncommon to see costs rise to $1,600 or more.

Budgeting for Compliance:

For high-net-worth families and family-owned enterprises, it is essential to budget for these increased costs. Trustees should consult with their accountants and legal advisors to get an estimate of the fees for the upcoming tax season and factor these into their financial planning. It is also prudent to consider engaging with tax professionals who specialize in trust reporting to potentially streamline the process and manage costs effectively.

Seeking Value in Compliance:

While the costs are not negligible, it is important for trustees to view compliance not just as a statutory obligation and a line item cost, but also as an investment in the trust’s integrity and the protection of the beneficiaries’ interests. Accurate and timely reporting helps maintain the trust’s standing with tax authorities and can prevent costly penalties and interest that would far exceed the cost of preparation.

Mitigating Costs through Proactive Management:

Proactive management of the trust throughout the year can help mitigate some of these costs. Keeping detailed records, maintaining clear communication with beneficiaries, and pre-emptively addressing any changes in the trust’s structure can simplify the reporting process, thereby potentially reducing the time and resources required by tax professionals to complete the filing.

The new trust reporting rules necessitate a reassessment of the costs associated with maintaining trusts, particularly bare trusts, which now require more detailed reporting. Trustees must be prepared for the potential increase in costs, ensuring that they allocate sufficient resources for compliance. By engaging with knowledgeable tax professionals and maintaining diligent records, trustees can navigate these changes effectively, ensuring that the trust fulfills its purpose while adhering to the new regulatory requirements.


Section 7: Exemptions and Pitfalls

As trustees of bare trusts and other trust arrangements grapple with the complexities of the new trust filing requirements, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the exemptions and potential pitfalls that accompany the updated regulations.

Understanding the Exemptions:

While the new rules are extensive, there are specific exemptions designed to alleviate the reporting burden for certain types of trusts. Trusts that hold assets with a total value not exceeding $50,000 throughout the year may be exempt from filing, provided these assets are within certain categories. These categories include deposits, government-debt obligations, and listed securities. This exemption is particularly relevant for smaller trusts or those that have been set up for specific, limited purposes.

However, trustees must exercise caution, as this exemption does not apply universally to all asset types. For example, trusts that hold shares in a private company, real estate, or other types of tangible or intangible property are required to file a T3 return, even if the total value of the trust assets is below the $50,000 threshold. The specific nature of the asset held by the trust is a determining factor for the filing requirement, making it critical for trustees to accurately assess the types of assets under their management.

Potential Pitfalls:

One of the significant pitfalls for trustees is the assumption that their trust automatically qualifies for exemptions without a thorough review of the asset types and values involved. Given the financial consequences and potential penalties for non-compliance, trustees must diligently verify whether their trust is indeed exempt from the filing requirements.

Moreover, even if a trust qualifies for exemptions based on the value and type of assets held, trustees should be mindful of any changes in the trust’s assets over the tax year. An increase in asset value or a change in asset type could shift the trust from an exempt status to one that requires full reporting, including the completion of Schedule 15.

Proactive Compliance Strategy:

To avoid the pitfalls associated with these exemptions, trustees should adopt a proactive compliance strategy. This involves:

  • Regularly reviewing the value and types of assets held by the trust throughout the year.
  • Maintaining accurate and up-to-date records for all trust transactions and asset valuations.
  • Consult with tax professionals to confirm the trust’s filing obligations based on current CRA guidelines.

The Importance of Vigilance:

Trustees must remain vigilant about their trust’s status in relation to the exemptions. The dynamic nature of financial markets and asset valuations can quickly alter a trust’s filing requirements. Additionally, trustees should be aware of the implications of providing benefits to beneficiaries, as these can also affect the need to file a T3 return.

Navigating the exemptions and avoiding the pitfalls of the new trust reporting rules requires a careful and informed approach. Trustees must not only be aware of the conditions that may exempt their trust from filing but also actively manage and monitor the trust’s assets to ensure ongoing compliance. By understanding the exemptions and recognizing potential pitfalls, trustees can fulfill their responsibilities effectively, ensuring that their actions align with the best interests of the beneficiaries and the regulatory requirements set forth by the CRA.


Section 8: The Canada Revenue Agency’s Approach

In response to the significant changes in trust reporting requirements, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has adopted a specific approach for the implementation and enforcement of these new rules, especially concerning bare trusts. Understanding the CRA’s stance is crucial for trustees, as it offers insight into the expectations and potential leniencies available in this transitional phase.

Education-First Approach and Penalty Relief for 2023:

Recognizing the substantial shift in reporting obligations, particularly for bare trusts, the CRA has communicated an ‘education-first’ approach for the 2023 tax year. This approach indicates a focus on informing and guiding trustees through the new requirements rather than immediate penalization for non-compliance.

Central to this approach is the temporary relief from late-filing penalties for bare trusts that submit their T3 returns, including Schedule 15, after the deadline for the 2023 tax year. This relief is designed to provide trustees with the necessary time to adjust to the new requirements and to seek professional advice if needed. It’s important to note that this relief is specific to the 2023 tax year and only applies to bare trusts, reflecting the CRA’s understanding that these entities have not previously been subject to such reporting obligations.

Conditions for Relief and Continued Compliance Expectations:

While the CRA is offering penalty relief, trustees should not misconstrue this as an exemption from filing. The requirement to file a complete and accurate T3 return, along with Schedule 15, remains in place. The relief applies only to penalties associated with late filing, not to the act of filing itself.

Moreover, this leniency does not extend to cases where the CRA deems that the failure to file was done knowingly or due to gross negligence. In such situations, the usual penalties – the greater of $2,500 or 5% of the highest fair market value of the assets held in the trust during the year – will apply. This underscores the importance of trustees acting in good faith and making earnest efforts to comply with the reporting requirements.

Looking Beyond 2023:

For tax years following 2023, trustees should anticipate a return to the standard enforcement policies of the CRA. This means that late filings, inaccuracies, or omissions could result in the full imposition of penalties as outlined in the Income Tax Act. Trustees should use the 2023 tax year as a learning curve and prepare for stricter compliance and enforcement in subsequent years.

The CRA’s education-first approach for the 2023 tax year provides a buffer for trustees to adapt to the new reporting landscape. However, this should not lead to complacency. Trustees must use this period to ensure they understand the

requirements, establish appropriate record-keeping processes, and seek necessary professional advice. This transitional year offers a valuable opportunity for trustees to align their practices with the new standards without the immediate pressure of penalties for late filing.

Looking ahead, trustees must be prepared for more rigorous enforcement of these rules. The relaxation of penalties for the 2023 tax year is a temporary measure, and trustees should expect that in subsequent years, any failure to comply could result in significant financial consequences.

The CRA’s approach, while accommodating initially, ultimately signals a move towards greater transparency and accountability in trust management. Trustees should view this period as an opportunity to establish robust systems and practices that will stand up to the scrutiny of future tax years. By doing so, they can ensure the continued effectiveness and compliance of their trusts, thereby safeguarding the interests of the beneficiaries and upholding the integrity of the trust structure.


Section 9: Preparing for Compliance and Gathering Necessary Documents

As the deadline for the new trust reporting requirements approaches, trustees must take proactive steps to ensure compliance. This involves not only understanding the regulations but also preparing and organizing the necessary documents for submission. A well-prepared trustee can streamline the process, potentially reducing the complexity and cost of professional tax services.

Key Steps for Preparing for Compliance:

  1. Understand the Filing Requirements:

Ensure a clear understanding of what needs to be filed, including the T3 Trust Income Tax and Information Return and Schedule 15. Review the exemptions and understand whether they apply to your trust.

  1. Gather Essential Documents:
  • Collect all relevant trust documents. These include the trust deed or agreement, amendments, and any other documentation that outlines the terms, conditions, and parties involved in the trust.
  • Prepare a list of all assets held by the trust, along with their valuations. This should include real estate appraisals, financial statements for business interests, and current statements for bank and investment accounts.
  • Compile detailed information about all reportable entities – trustees, beneficiaries, and settlors – for the entire year. This includes names, addresses, and Social Insurance Numbers (SINs) or Tax Identification Numbers.
  • If there have been any changes in trustees or beneficiaries during the year, gather documentation that reflects these changes.
  1. Record Transactions and Trust Activities:
  • Maintain a record of all transactions involving the trust’s assets. This includes acquisitions, dispositions, and any income or expenses related to the trust’s assets.
  • If the trust has distributed income or capital to the beneficiaries during the year, ensure that these distributions are properly documented.
  1. Prepare for the Financial Aspects:
  • Review any income generated by the trust’s assets and ensure it is ready to be reported. This might include interest, dividends, or rental income.
  • If the trust has incurred expenses, such as property maintenance or administrative costs, gather receipts and records of these expenses.
  1. Consult with a Professional:
  • Schedule a meeting with your accountant or tax advisor. Provide them with all the gathered documents and discuss any concerns or questions you might have about the filing process.
  1. Review and Submit:
  • Once the return is prepared, review it carefully for accuracy. Ensure that all required sections are completed and that the information provided matches the records you have.
  • Submit the return by the deadline, keeping a copy for your records.


Preparing for compliance with the new trust reporting rules requires thoroughness and attention to detail. By gathering the necessary documents and understanding the requirements, trustees can facilitate a smoother filing process. Engaging with tax professionals early and providing them with complete and organized information can lead to more efficient and accurate compliance, potentially reducing the risk of errors and the cost of professional services. As trustees navigate these new requirements, proactive preparation will be key to successful and stress-free compliance, ensuring that the trust continues to operate within the legal framework set forth by the CRA.

The effort invested in preparing for compliance not only aids in meeting the current year’s requirements but also establishes a foundation for maintaining ongoing compliance in the future. Keeping organized records, staying informed about changes in trust legislation, and maintaining open communication with tax advisors are practices that will benefit trustees well beyond the immediate tax season.

In summary, effective preparation for trust reporting is a multifaceted process. It involves understanding the obligations, gathering and organizing necessary documentation, consulting with professionals, and ensuring timely and accurate submission. By adhering to these steps, trustees can navigate the complexities of trust reporting, uphold their fiduciary responsibilities, and maintain the trust’s compliance with Canadian tax laws.

Conclusion: Navigating Trust Reporting with Expertise and Precision

As we close this comprehensive guide on the new trust reporting requirements in Canada, it’s evident that the landscape of trust administration has undergone a significant transformation. The intricacies of these changes, from the expanded scope of trusts required to file to the detailed information required on Schedule 15, underscore the need for meticulous attention to detail and a deep understanding of trust law and taxation.

In this evolving environment, the value of expert guidance cannot be overstated. For trustees, especially those managing bare trusts or involved in complex trust structures, the assistance of seasoned professionals is vital in ensuring compliance, minimizing liabilities, and upholding the trust’s objectives.

At Shajani CPA, we bring a unique blend of expertise and experience to the table. With my background as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), holding an LL.M in Tax Law, an LL.B, and being a Trust Estate Practitioner (TEP), I lead a team equipped to navigate the complexities of trust reporting. Our firm’s proficiency is not just in understanding the letter of the law but in appreciating the nuances that each trust brings.

Our approach is rooted in a comprehensive understanding of your trust’s unique characteristics, coupled with a commitment to personalized service. We recognize that each trust has its own story, its own purpose, and its own set of challenges. Our goal is to align our services with your specific needs, ensuring that your trust not only complies with the latest regulations but also continues to fulfill its intended role effectively.

In choosing Shajani CPA for your trust reporting needs, you are opting for a partner who values the importance of your trust’s integrity as much as you do. We offer a seamless, informed, and meticulous approach to trust reporting, ensuring that every detail is accounted for, every requirement is met, and every filing is completed with precision.

In conclusion, as the trust reporting landscape continues to evolve, having a trusted advisor by your side is more important than ever. We invite you to leverage our expertise and experience to navigate these changes confidently. Let us help you ensure that your trust remains compliant, efficient, and aligned with your objectives. At Shajani CPA, we are more than just accountants and advisors; we are partners in your trust’s journey towards compliance and success.

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. ©2024 Shajani CPA.

Shajani CPA is a CPA Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer firm and provides Accountant, Bookkeeping, Tax Advice and Tax Planning services.

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.