Impact of Higher Capital Gains Inclusion Rate on Financial & Estate Planning

One change proposed in the April 16, 2024 Federal Budget is raising the inclusion rate on capital gains from 50% to 66.7%. For individual taxpayers, the initial $250,000 of capital gains remains taxed at the 50% inclusion rate. However, for corporations and trusts, the increased inclusion rate applies to all capital gains. These adjustments are slated to come into effect starting June 25, 2024.

What does this mean for individual taxpayers?

Income taxes on realized capital gains are increasing. For example, in B.C. with a top marginal income tax rate of 53.5%, taxes paid on capital gains under $250,000 are taxed at 26.75%. Now, for gains over $250,000 the tax rate increases to 35.85%. For most taxpayers, many of whom would not realize over $250,000 of capital gains in a taxation year, this change will not have any impact. However, for those who do realize such a gain the additional tax could be significant.

Consider someone who has just sold recreational property. If the amount of gain on that Whistler ski cabin, for example, was $500,000, the tax payable on the transaction will increase from $133,750 to $156,500. If that same property had been held in the family for generations the increase in taxes, with the new inclusion rate, could be substantial.

The same will be true for BC residents who own rental properties or investment portfolios that they wish to sell and generate profit. For each $100,000 of capital gain over the $250,000 limit they will pay an additional $9,100 in income tax.

The biggest potential impact of the increased inclusion rate on capital gains will be in estate planning. When a taxpayer in Canada dies, he or she is deemed to have disposed of all their capital property at fair market value. For estates with a large amount of non-registered investments, rental, and recreational property as well as other appreciable capital property, the inclusion rate of 66.7% will increase the final tax bill considerably.

What does this mean for owners of private corporations?

For private corporations (and trusts) there is no reduced inclusion rate for the first $250,000 of gain. Every dollar of realized capital gain is taxed based on an inclusion rate of 66.7%. Using the ski cabin in the first example, if that property had been held in a corporation, upon its sale, the full $500,000 would attract tax based on 66.7% inclusion, increasing the total tax payable to $179,150.

Many successful professionals earn their income in a private corporation retaining surplus income not required for immediate expenses to accumulate corporately for future use. The proposed tax increases on both corporate investment realization and shareholder access to proceeds have been substantial.

There is a vehicle for Canadian-Controlled Private Corporations (CCPCs) known as the Capital Dividend Account. This notional account allows a tax-free flow of the non-taxable portion of capital gains to the shareholder. The amount of tax-free capital dividends has now been reduced because of the increased inclusion rate. For instance, if a corporation realizes a $500,000 capital gain (using the example of a B.C. company with a 50.7% investment tax rate), the corporation’s tax liability would be $169,084, compared to the previous $126,750 with a 50% inclusion rate. Prior to June 25, 2024, the tax-free capital dividend flowing to the shareholder would be $250,000, decreasing to $166,500 thereafter. Consequently, more tax paid within the corporation translates to fewer tax-free proceeds for the shareholder.

For corporations, capital gains will increase their Adjusted Aggregate Investment Income (AAII) more quickly due to the higher inclusion rate. This will have the effect of accelerating the erosion of the Small Business Deduction (low rate of tax on the first $500,000 of active business income) which is reduced by $5 for every $1 of AAII.

Planning Opportunities and Strategies

What are some planning tips and strategies that can be used to mitigate the effect of these new provisions?

  • If you are holding investments with more than $250,000 in deferred capital gains, consider declaring them prior to June 25, 2024. This will require careful consideration as it will require tax to be paid sooner than originally expected. It may also have some Alternative Minimum Tax implications so take this strategy under advisement;

  • Consider a further diversification of your investments to limit capital gain exposure. Cash value life insurance, in particular Participating Whole Life, has been growing in popularity for several years, primarily due to its stable growth and tax-exempt status. This product could prove beneficial in a re-allocation of current investments;

  • Permanent life insurance products have long been used in providing necessary estate liquidity to pay taxes at death. With estates now having a possibility of higher taxes due to the higher inclusion rates, the amount of life insurance held for this purpose should be increased;

  • For owners of private corporations holding capital investments, consider allocating some of those investments to personal ownership to take advantage of the lower inclusion rate for up to $250,000;

  • Corporations should also consider diversifying and re-allocating corporate surplus to a tax-exempt life insurance policy owned by the corporation. This will shelter those investments from high passive corporate investment income tax as well as help protect the Small Business Income Tax rate on the first $500,000 of active business income;

  • You may also want to reassess corporately owned life insurance to help provide for the estate liquidity needs of the business owner, since the death benefit of the policy in excess of its ACB can be paid to the surviving shareholder or family tax free from the Capital Dividend Account.

As in previous budgets, there is currently no draft legislation enacting the provisions of the April 16th budget. Once enacted, however, the terms of the budget impacting the inclusion rate of capital gains will be effective June 25, 2024. It would be prudent to discuss your planning and develop strategies sooner rather than later.

Term Life Insurance – Two Valuable Options

For many Canadians, especially those with young families, term life insurance is most often the product of choice for protecting one’s family.  The major reason for this is that it is the lowest entry-level cost to purchase life insurance.

While permanent, cash value life insurance presents tax-advantaged opportunities for growth, the paradox of this type of insurance is that it is cheapest when you can least afford it.  For those wanting to make sure that their loved ones are adequately protected should they die, term life insurance is an easy decision.

The good news is that once the life insurance is in place, you have protection guaranteed for the lifetime of the policy contract.  The bad news is that with renewable term life insurance, upon renewal, the premiums increase substantially.  

How to keep your insurance premiums affordable

  • Reapply before the renewal date to obtain current rates for a person in good health

  • Convert at the earliest date possible to level cost or cash value insurance

The amount of the premium increase can be reduced if the insured re-applies for the coverage by providing new medical and other underwriting evidence.  Sadly, the possibility of becoming fully or partially uninsurable before the renewal date exists.  Should this occur and the coverage is still required, the insured might have no other option but to renew if it were not for two particularly important provisions contained in most term insurance policies.  These two options go a long way in protecting your future insurability. 

Two options to consider

  • Conversion option – At any time before age 70 or 75 (depending on company) the term insurance policy can be “converted” to a permanent plan without any medical evidence.  This is a valuable option for an insured who now requires lifetime protection for estate planning needs, such as payment of taxes upon death.  There is no medical exam required for this option, so your insurability is not considered.  Generally, the term policy can be converted to any permanent plan offered by the company including Whole Life, Universal Life or Term to Age 100.

  • The Exchange Option – The “exchange” option allows you to switch to another term insurance policy with no evidence of insurability. This feature allows for the policyholder to start a term policy with the lowest entry level premium (10 year renewable term) and without any risk of losing his or her insurability exchange it for a 20 year or 30 year renewable term during the first five policy years.  This option generally can only be used once but the exchanged policy would still have the full conversion option available for a future non-medical change to permanent coverage. While the conversion option is a feature included on almost all term life plans, the availability of the exchange option may not be available with all term insurance policies.  

If you have recently purchased a term insurance policy and want to look at securing rates for a longer term, you may want to investigate exercising either your conversion or term exchange option.  

If you are currently considering purchasing term insurance, you will want to make sure that the plan you are considering offers both conversion and term exchange features.  

Reach out to me if you have any questions. As always, please feel free to share this information with anyone you think would find it of interest.

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CERB Extended | Business Owners who did not qualify previously – expanded CEBA starts June 19th

CERB Extended 2 more months

Great news for Canadians out of work and looking for work. The CERB will be extended another 8 weeks for a total of up to 24 weeks.

As the country begins to restart the economy, the Federal government will be making changes to the program to encourage Canadians receiving the benefit to get people back on the job. From Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s website:

“The Government of Canada introduced the CERB to immediately help workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so they could continue to put food on the table and pay their bills during this challenging time. As we begin to restart the economy and get people back on the job, Canadians receiving the benefit should be actively seeking work opportunities or planning to return to work, provided they are able and it is reasonable to do so.

That is why the government will also make changes to the CERB attestation, which will encourage Canadians receiving the benefit to find employment and consult Job Bank, Canada’s national employment service that offers tools to help with job searches.”

More small businesses can apply for CEBA $40,000 no-interest loans

Applications for the expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be accepted as of Friday, June 19th, 2020. Small businesses that are:

“… owner-operated small businesses that had been ineligible for the program due to their lack of payroll, sole proprietors receiving business income directly, as well as family-owned corporations remunerating in the form of dividends rather than payroll will become eligible this week.”

Apply online at the financial institution your business banks with:

There are restrictions on the funds can be used. From their website https://ceba-cuec.ca/:

“The funds from this loan shall only be used by the Borrower to pay non-deferrable operating expenses of the Borrower including, without limitation, payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax and regularly scheduled debt service, and may not be used to fund any payments or expenses such as prepayment/refinancing of existing indebtedness, payments of dividends, distributions and increases in management compensation.”

A Lifetime Gift for Your Grandchildren

The Cascading Life Insurance Strategy

If you are a grandparent wishing to provide an asset for your grandchildren without compromising your own financial security, you may want to consider an estate planning application known as Cascading Life Insurance.

How does the Cascading Life Insurance Strategy work?

  • The grandparent would purchase an insurance policy on his or her grandchild and funds the policy to create significant cash value;

  • The grandparent would own the policy and name the parent of the grandchild as contingent owner and primary beneficiary;

  • The cost of life insurance is lowest at younger ages, maximizing the tax deferred growth of the cash value in the policy.

What are the benefits of the Cascading Life Insurance Strategy?

  • Tax deferred or tax free accumulation of wealth;

  • Generational transfer of wealth with no income tax consequences;

  • Avoids probate fees;

  • Protection against claims of creditors;

  • Provides a significant legacy;

  • Access the cash value to pay child’s expenses such as education costs. (Withdrawal of cash value may have tax consequences);

  • It’s a cost effective way for grandparents to provide a significant legacy.

For the grandchild, he or she ultimately receives a gift that will provide significant benefits:

  • A growing cash value that can never decline;

  • Access to borrow from the policy for education, down payment on a home, or to invest in a business;

  • The policy could also provide an annual income by changing the dividend option to cash;

  • Life insurance which continues to grow in death benefit to protect his or her future family.

Case Study

Let’s look at an example of this strategy. Grandpa Brian is 65 and has funds put aside for the benefit of his grandson, Ian.

  • Grandpa Brian purchases a 20 Pay Participating Whole Life policy on Ian, age 11, for an annual deposit of $5,000;

  • Brian’s daughter, Kelly is named as contingent owner in the event of Grandpa Brian’s death and beneficiary in the event of Ian’s death;

  • At Ian’s age 31, the policy becomes paid up with no future premiums.

If Grandpa Brian were to die at age 85 the following could happen:

  • The ownership of the policy now passes to Ian’s mom Kelly;

  • The cash value of the policy (at current dividend assumptions) would be $ 134,049 and the death benefit of the policy would be $679,634;

  • Kelly has a choice to remain the owner of the policy or transfer the ownership to her 31-year-old son without any tax consequences.

Because of Grandpa Brian’s legacy planning, Grandchild Ian, now age 31, has a significant insurance estate that will continue to grow with no further premiums! By Ian’s age 45, the death benefit, at current dividend scale, would be $1,030,045 with a cash value of 311,811.

Please call me if you think your family would benefit from this strategy or share this article with a friend or family member you think may find this information of value.

Note – The numbers shown in the Case Study are using Equitable Life’s Estate Builder 20 pay Participating Whole Life policy with maximum Excelerator Deposit Option.