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Navigating T1135 Expert Tax Guidance for High-Net-Worth Canadian Families on Foreign Income Verification

Introduction: Mastering the T1135 for Global Investment Success

This blog post is crafted to illuminate the path to T1135 compliance, imparting the wisdom we have gathered over years of specialized practice. We will navigate through what the T1135 entails, who it impacts, how to file it accurately, and why it should be a pivotal part of your tax planning and estate management. With Shajani LLP, you gain more than just tax services; you gain a partner invested in your journey to financial success on the international stage.

Our firm, Shajani CPA, specializes in guiding Canadian high-net-worth families and their enterprises through the labyrinth of tax obligations with a keen eye on optimizing wealth and ensuring global compliance. The T1135 Foreign Income Verification Statement is a crucial piece in this puzzle, serving as a declaration of foreign assets that requires careful attention and strategic planning.

In the realm of high-net-worth individuals and family-owned enterprises, tax compliance is a sophisticated art that balances the nuances of domestic responsibilities with the complexities of international holdings. As a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) with advanced degrees in Tax Law (LL.M (Tax)) and Business Administration (MBA), as well as a Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP), I understand the intricacies of this balance intimately.

Our tagline, ‘Tell us your ambitions and we will guide you there,’ reflects our commitment to not only ensuring compliance but also aligning your tax strategies with your broader financial visions. As part of the global network of Russell Bedford International, we offer unparalleled expertise in managing T1135 filings as well as tax compliance across 110 countries, providing our clients with the confidence that their global tax strategy is both compliant and optimized for growth.

Understanding the T1135 Form

What is Form T1135, and who needs to file it?

Form T1135, also known as the Foreign Income Verification Statement, is a tax form used by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to track foreign investments held by Canadian residents. This form is a critical component of the Canadian tax system designed to ensure compliance with international tax obligations. It is mandatory for Canadian taxpayers who own foreign property with a total cost of more than CAD 100,000 at any point during the year. This includes individuals, corporations, trusts, and certain partnerships.

Overview of the reporting requirements for foreign investments

The T1135 form requires detailed disclosures about foreign property, including the following:

  • Funds held in foreign bank accounts.
  • Shares of non-Canadian corporations, even if held in a Canadian account.
  • Interests in non-resident trusts.
  • Real estate held outside of Canada (not personal use or for rental).
  • Other income-earning foreign property.

Each category of property must be reported separately, with specific details about the maximum cost amount during the year, the cost amount at year-end, and the income or loss generated from the property.

The implications of non-compliance

Filing the T1135 is not merely an administrative task—it’s a legal requirement. Failure to file can result in significant penalties. The CRA imposes a penalty of $25 per day for late filing, with a minimum penalty of $100 and a maximum of $2,500. If the failure to file is made knowingly or due to gross negligence, the penalties are even more severe, including a penalty of up to $12,000 or even criminal charges in cases of tax evasion.

Additionally, the CRA has a Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) that allows taxpayers to come forward and correct or disclose information that is not accurate, complete, or that has not been reported. However, the VDP may not be available if the CRA has already started a review or audit of the taxpayer’s returns.

Taxpayers should be aware that the CRA exchanges financial information with other countries through international tax treaties and agreements, which increases the likelihood of detecting non-compliance. Therefore, understanding and fulfilling the T1135 reporting obligations is not just good practice—it’s crucial for legal and financial health.

By accurately reporting foreign property on the T1135, Canadian taxpayers can avoid penalties, ensure they are compliant with Canadian tax laws, and maintain their financial integrity.

Who Should Pay Attention to the T1135?

Criteria for determining if high-net-worth individuals need to file

The T1135 form is a concern for high-net-worth individuals who are residents of Canada for tax purposes and have foreign property with a total cost amount of more than CAD 100,000 at any time during the year. It is not the value of the property but the cost amount that determines the reporting requirement. This form serves as a declaration of assets held outside Canada and is separate from any income tax owed or reported on these assets.

Explanation of ‘specified foreign property’

Specified foreign property is a term that encompasses a broad range of assets. For high-net-worth families, this might include:

  • Money in foreign bank accounts.
  • Shares in foreign companies, whether held abroad or in Canadian brokerage accounts.
  • Interests in foreign trusts that may have been set up for estate-planning purposes.
  • Real property outside Canada, such as vacation homes or rental properties, excluding personal use property.
  • Other foreign investments, such as partnership interests, that earn income or have the potential for capital appreciation.

Each type of property may have specific reporting nuances. For instance, shares in a foreign company held in a Canadian brokerage account are considered specified foreign property, but shares of a Canadian company held outside of Canada are not.

The threshold for reporting foreign assets

It’s essential to note that the CAD 100,000 threshold is not based on the income produced by the foreign assets but on their total cost. Once the aggregate cost amount exceeds this threshold, the taxpayer must provide detailed information for each asset. Moreover, the threshold applies to the cumulative value of all specified foreign property. Therefore, if an individual has a combination of assets that individually may be below the threshold but collectively exceed it, they must file the T1135.

This threshold serves as a criterion to sift through taxpayers who have minimal foreign investments from those with substantial foreign assets, ensuring that the CRA can monitor and enforce tax compliance effectively. For family-owned enterprises and high-net-worth individuals, staying aware of and compliant with the T1135 filing requirements is paramount, as their investment portfolios often include substantial foreign property.


Filing T1135: A Step-by-Step Guide

Filing the T1135 form can seem daunting, but with a structured approach, high-net-worth individuals and owners of family enterprises can navigate the process with confidence. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help ensure accurate and timely filing:

Step 1: Determine Eligibility

  • Begin by assessing whether the total cost amount of your foreign property exceeded CAD 100,000 at any point during the tax year.
  • Review all your assets to identify which ones are considered ‘specified foreign property.’

Step 2: Gather Necessary Information

  • For each foreign property, compile detailed information including:
  • The maximum cost amount during the year.
  • The cost amount at year-end.
  • The type of income earned from the property and the gross income for the year.
  • The gain or loss from the disposition of the property during the year.

Step 3: Understand the Categories of Property

  • The CRA requires information to be reported under different categories. Ensure you classify your foreign property into the correct category to avoid mistakes.
  • Categories include funds held on deposit, tangible and intangible property, shares, debt, and other properties.

Step 4: Complete the Form

  • Download the latest version of Form T1135 from the CRA website.
  • Enter your personal information, including your Social Insurance Number or Business Number.
  • Fill out the form section by section, reporting each property in the appropriate category.
  • Provide detailed information for each property, including the country where each asset is located.

Step 5: Double-Check Your Entries

  • Review the form to ensure that all information is complete and accurate.
  • Verify that you have reported all specified foreign property and the information matches your records.

Step 6: File the Form

  • The T1135 can be filed electronically with your tax return or separately by mail. Choose the method that is applicable to your situation.
  • If filing by mail, send the completed form to the address provided by the CRA specifically for foreign reporting.
  • Note that electronic filing may have different submission procedures, so check the CRA guidelines for the latest instructions.

Step 7: Keep Records

  • Maintain detailed records of all foreign property for at least six years from the end of the last tax year to which they relate. This is crucial in case the CRA requests additional information or audits your tax returns.
  • These records include bank statements, purchase and sales agreements, and other relevant financial documents.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Not reporting foreign property held within Canadian brokerage accounts.
  • Failing to report all properties if they collectively exceed the CAD 100,000 threshold.
  • Incorrectly classifying the type of property or the country of location.

Deadlines and Timelines for Submission

  • The T1135 must be filed on the same date as your income tax return for the year. For individuals, this is generally on or before April 30th of the following year. If you have self-employment income, the deadline extends to June 15th, but any taxes owed must still be paid by April 30th.
  • If you file electronically, ensure that the submission receipt is saved as proof of filing.


Strategic Tax Planning with T1135 in Mind

Incorporating T1135 considerations into your tax planning is not just about compliance—it’s about crafting a strategic approach to managing your foreign investments in alignment with your long-term financial goals. For high-net-worth individuals with family-owned enterprises, strategic tax planning with an eye on T1135 can offer several advantages.

Integrating T1135 into Your Overall Tax Strategy

Understanding the Interaction with Other Tax Provisions: Consider how the T1135 requirements interact with other tax provisions, such as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Common Reporting Standard (CRS). Aligning your reporting with these international standards can streamline your compliance processes.

Anticipating Changes in Foreign Asset Values: Keep abreast of changes in the value of your foreign assets, as these can impact your tax situation. Regular reviews of your investment portfolio will help ensure that you remain above the reporting threshold and compliant with T1135 obligations.

Tax Planning Opportunities

Utilizing Foreign Tax Credits: Be aware of the potential for foreign tax credits, which can mitigate the double taxation of income earned from foreign property. Ensure that you’re leveraging these credits to their fullest extent within the framework of the T1135 reporting.

Considering Timing of Acquisitions and Disposals: Timing is crucial in tax planning. The acquisition or disposal of foreign property may be better suited to a particular tax year, depending on other income and gains you expect to report.

Maintaining Compliance While Maximizing Growth

Regular Review and Adjustment of Investments: Regularly review your foreign investments for both compliance and performance. This proactive approach ensures that your portfolio not only meets the T1135 reporting requirements but also aligns with your wealth growth and preservation goals.

Engaging in Proactive Disclosure: Stay ahead of the curve by disclosing all necessary information before the CRA inquires. This can include amending past filings if mistakes are discovered, thus potentially reducing penalties.

Succession Planning and the T1135

Incorporating T1135 in Estate Planning: When planning for the future, consider how your foreign assets will be handled and reported by your successors. Proper succession planning should include education on T1135 compliance for the next generation.

Creating a Compliance Culture: Foster a culture of compliance within your family enterprise, emphasizing the importance of transparency and adherence to tax laws, including T1135 reporting.

Working with Tax Professionals

Seeking Expert Guidance: Given the complexity of tax laws and the severe consequences of non-compliance, working with a tax professional is advisable. An expert can provide valuable advice on optimizing your tax position while ensuring that all reporting obligations are met.

Regular Consultations: Establish a routine of regular consultations with your tax advisor to review your foreign property holdings, discuss any changes in tax legislation, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Case Studies: Strategic Utilization of the T1135 in Tax Planning and Estate Management

Case Study 1: Holistic Investment Review and Estate Planning

In one notable instance, we leveraged the T1135 filing requirement to conduct a comprehensive review of a client’s foreign investments. This high-net-worth family owned a diverse portfolio of foreign properties and securities, which had grown organically over time but without a cohesive tax or estate plan.

The Challenge: The family’s patriarch was unaware of some potential inefficiencies in their investment structure and the implications for estate planning. There was also a need to educate the next generation on managing and reporting foreign assets.

Our Approach: We began with a thorough review of the client’s T1135 reporting to ensure compliance. This process naturally extended into an analysis of the performance and tax efficiency of their foreign investments.

The Outcome: By restructuring the investments, not only did we streamline the T1135 filing process, but we also identified opportunities for tax savings. We utilized foreign tax credits and tax treaties to minimize the global tax liability. Moreover, we crafted an estate plan that ensured a smooth transition of foreign assets to the heirs, with clear guidelines on future T1135 reporting. This foresight led to definitive tax savings and set a strong foundation for the family’s financial legacy.

Case Study 2: Voluntary Disclosure Leading to Penalty-Free Compliance

Another compelling case involved a new client who came to us with concerns about previously unreported foreign assets. They had significant holdings that far exceeded the T1135 reporting threshold but had failed to file due to an oversight.

The Challenge: The client was facing potential penalties and interest charges for non-compliance, which could have been substantial given the years of non-reporting.

Our Approach: We immediately recommended the CRA’s Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) as a course of action. Our team worked diligently to gather all necessary information for the past years, prepare accurate T1135 filings, and submit a comprehensive VDP application.

The Outcome: The CRA accepted the VDP application, allowing the client to file the delinquent T1135 forms without incurring any penalties or interest. This not only brought the client into compliance but also provided significant peace of mind and reinforced the importance of having a proactive tax strategy in place.

Expert Advice and Best Practices

Drawing from a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of tax law, we offer our clients expert advice and best practices to navigate the complexities of the T1135 form. This section provides insights and actionable advice for high-net-worth families and owners of family-owned enterprises.

Maximize the Use of Available Information

Leverage the detailed information required for the T1135 form to gain a comprehensive view of your foreign assets. This exercise can illuminate areas where financial performance can be optimized.

Stay Ahead of Legislative Changes

Tax laws, especially those affecting foreign property ownership and reporting, can change. Stay informed about these changes to ensure ongoing compliance and to take advantage of any new tax planning opportunities.

Incorporate Technology in Tax Filing

Utilize available software and digital tools for record-keeping and filing. Technology can streamline the process, reduce errors, and facilitate easier access to historical data for comparison and analysis.

Understand the Cost of Non-Compliance

Recognize that the costs associated with non-compliance can be significant. Penalties, interest, and the potential for additional scrutiny from the CRA can far outweigh the resources invested in proper reporting and planning.

Cultivate a Relationship with a Tax Professional

Establish a strong working relationship with a tax advisor who understands your unique financial landscape and can provide tailored advice. This relationship is crucial for navigating complex tax situations and for strategic planning.

Best Practices for Filing the T1135

  • Timeliness: File the form on time, every time. Even if you need to amend it later, it’s better to file by the deadline than to not file at all.
  • Accuracy: Ensure that all information is accurate. Inconsistencies can raise red flags with the CRA and may lead to audits.
  • Comprehensiveness: Disclose all required information. Partial disclosures can lead to penalties as if you had not disclosed at all.
  • Consistency: Be consistent in how you report from year to year unless there is a legitimate reason for a change in reporting.
  • Documentation: Maintain meticulous records. Should the CRA inquire for more information, having detailed documentation can expedite the review process.

Building a Legacy of Compliance

For families with significant wealth, especially those with enterprises that will pass through generations, creating a legacy of compliance is essential. It sets a precedent for future generations and establishes a foundation of trustworthiness and reliability.

Conclusion: Your Trusted Partner in Global Tax Compliance

Navigating the intricacies of the T1135 form is a task that requires precision, foresight, and an expert understanding of both domestic and international tax laws. As high-net-worth individuals and families with family-owned enterprises look toward preserving and growing their wealth across borders, the need for authoritative tax guidance becomes ever more critical.

At Shajani CPA, we bring a unique blend of local expertise and global reach to the table. With credentials that include Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA), Master in Tax Law (LL.M (Tax)), Master in Business Administration (MBA), and Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP), I lead our firm with a deep and specialized understanding of the tax landscape. This expertise is not just academic; it’s continually honed through real-world experience and a commitment to staying abreast of the latest developments in tax legislation and strategy.

Moreover, as part of Russell Bedford International, we are positioned to manage T1135 filings with a nuanced understanding of tax implications in over 110 countries. This global network empowers us to provide seamless service for your international tax needs, ensuring compliance and optimization of your foreign investments.

We understand that your ambitions are not just about reaching a destination but about navigating the journey with wisdom and foresight. At Shajani CPA, we are dedicated to guiding you through the complexities of tax planning and compliance, so you can focus on what matters most—growing your legacy.

For a partnership that transcends borders and anticipates your needs, trust in Shajani CPA to bring clarity, compliance, and strategic tax planning to your world of global investments. Let us be the compass that guides you to your financial aspirations.

Tell us your ambitions, and we will guide you there.


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.