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The Impact of the Revised AMT on Family-Owned Businesses and Charitable Giving: A CPA and Tax Law Perspective

The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is a parallel tax calculation that allows fewer deductions, exemptions, and tax credits than under the ordinary income tax rules.  As a CPA and Tax Law expert, I’ve closely analyzed the proposed amendments to the AMT regime introduced in the 2023 federal budget. Set to take effect for tax years beginning after 2023, these changes are poised to significantly affect high-income individuals, including those owning or involved in family-owned businesses. Particularly concerning is the impact these changes will have on charitable giving, a cornerstone of community support and civil society, especially within the family business sector.

How the Charitable Tax Credit Currently Works

In Canada, the Charitable Tax Credit is a significant incentive for individuals and businesses to contribute to charitable organizations. When you make a donation to a registered charity, you receive a tax credit that reduces your income tax for the year. For individuals, the federal government offers a 15% credit on the first $200 of donations, and a 29% credit on amounts beyond that. For donations over $200, higher-income earners can receive a 33% credit, depending on their tax bracket. Additionally, most provinces and territories also offer their own tax credits, which vary in rates, further reducing your overall tax liability. This dual-level tax benefit (federal and provincial) encourages Canadians to support charitable causes, effectively lowering the actual cost of their donations. It’s important to note that to benefit from this tax credit, donations must be made to registered charities and official receipts must be kept as proof for tax filing purposes.

Overview of the Proposed AMT Changes

The federal government’s proposed amendments intend to increase tax revenues by targeting high-income individuals. The key changes include:

  1. Increased Basic Exemption and AMT Rate: The basic AMT exemption will rise to CA$173,205, aligning with the lower threshold of the fourth federal income tax bracket. Concurrently, the AMT rate will increase from 15% to 20.5%.
  2. Broadened AMT Base: The amendments will expand the income items considered under AMT and limit certain deductions and credits.
  3. Impact on High-Income Individuals and Trusts: These changes will directly impact individuals with substantial incomes, including significant employee stock option benefits, and certain trusts.

Impact of the New AMT on Your Donation

If the charitable tax credit is not fully considered in the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) calculation, it could have significant repercussions for taxpayers, particularly those involved in family-owned businesses. Essentially, high-income individuals who make substantial charitable donations would not receive the full tax benefit of their contributions under the AMT regime. This scenario could lead to a situation where their effective tax rate is disproportionately high, despite their philanthropic efforts. Such an oversight in the AMT calculation may discourage charitable giving, as the fiscal incentive to donate is diminished. For family-owned businesses, often key contributors to charitable causes, this could mean reevaluating their donation strategies. This change would not only impact the donors but could also have a ripple effect on the financial health and support available to charities and non-profit organizations, potentially affecting their ability to serve the community.

The Concerns for Family-Owned Businesses

The revised AMT regime, while aiming at ‘fairness’ in the tax system, raises concerns for family-owned business owners. The increased AMT rate and the broadened base may lead to a higher tax burden for these individuals. This could inadvertently hamper investment and growth within the engine of the Canadian economy—family-owned businesses.

The Undervalued Role of Charitable Giving

A critical issue with the proposed AMT amendments is the overlooking of charitable donations. Under the current framework, the donation credit is not deducted before calculating the AMT. This oversight potentially discourages charitable giving by family business owners, who are often integral to fundraising efforts for charities.

Charitable contributions, especially from family-owned businesses, play a vital role in supporting various social causes and community projects. The lack of consideration for these contributions in the AMT calculation undermines the encouragement of a philanthropic spirit among high-income earners and business owners.

Recommendations for Promoting Civil Society

To truly foster a thriving civil society and encourage charitable giving among family business owners, the government must revise the AMT calculation to include donation credits. This amendment would align the tax system with the societal value of philanthropy, encouraging business owners to continue their vital support of charitable organizations.

The Need for Strategic Tax Planning

Given these impending changes, it’s more important than ever for family-owned business owners to engage in strategic tax planning. Understanding the nuances of the revised AMT and its implications on your tax liability and charitable giving strategies is essential.

How Shajani CPA Can Assist

At Shajani CPA, we specialize in offering comprehensive tax and legal advice tailored to the unique needs of family-owned businesses. Our team is well-versed in the complexities of the AMT and can guide you to ensure your business navigates these changes effectively. We are committed to helping you optimize your tax position while upholding your philanthropic values.

If you are a family-owned business owner concerned about the impact of the new AMT on your tax obligations and charitable contributions, we invite you to reach out to us. Let’s work together to find the best path forward in this changing tax landscape.

For more information see Budget 2023 Tax Measures Supplementary Information, or schedule a meeting with the tax professionals at Shajani CPA.

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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. ©2023 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.