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.

Optimizing Wealth Through Asset Re-Allocation

If you are an active investor, your investment holdings probably include many different asset classes. For many investors, diversification is a very important part of the wealth accumulation process to help manage risk and reduce volatility. Your investment portfolio might include stocks, bonds, equity funds, real estate and commodities. All these investment assets share a common characteristic – their yield is exposed to tax. From a taxation standpoint, investment assets fall into the following categories:

Tax-Adverse

The income from these investments are taxed at the top rates. They include bonds, certificates of deposits, savings accounts, rents etc. Depending on the province, these investments may be taxed at rates of approximately 50% or more. (For example, Alberta 48.0%, BC 53.5%, Manitoba 50.4%, Ontario 53.53%, Nova Scotia 54.0%).

Tax-Advantaged

These investments are taxed at rates lower than those that are tax-adverse. These investments include those that generate a capital gain (stocks, equity funds, investment real estate, etc.), or pay dividends. The effective tax rate on capital gains varies depending on province from approximately 24% to 27%. For non-eligible dividends, the range is between approximately 37% to 49%.

Tax-Deferred

Tax-deferred investments include those investments which are held in Registered Retirement Savings Plans or Registered Pension Plans (such as an Individual Pension Plan). One advantage of these investments is that the contribution is tax deductible in the year it was made. The disadvantage is that the income taken from these plans is tax-adverse as it is taxed as ordinary income and could attract top rates of income tax.

The growth in cash value life insurance policies such as Participating Whole Life and Universal Life is also tax-deferred in that until the funds are withdrawn in excess of their adjusted cost base while the insured is still alive, there is no reportable taxable income.

Tax-Free

Very few investments are tax-free in Canada. Those that are tax-free include the gain in value of your principal residence, Tax-free Savings Accounts (TFSA’s) and the death benefit of a life insurance policy (including all growth in the cash value account).

While Canada is not the highest taxed country in the world (that distinction belongs to Belgium) it is certainly not the lowest. (According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada sits as the 23rd highest taxed country in the world). It is also true that in addition to the taxes Canadians pay while they are living, the final insult comes at death.

Generally speaking, you have three beneficiaries when you die. You have your family, your favourite charities, and the Canada Revenue Agency. They all take a slice of your estate pie. Most people would rather leave more to their family and charities than pay the CRA more than they need to.

As our estates grow, they include funds that we intend to leave to our children and possibly to charity. They also include funds we are likely never going to spend while we are alive.

The secret to optimizing the value of your wealth for the benefit of your estate is to reallocate those assets that you are never going to spend during your lifetime from investments that are tax-exposed to those that are tax-free.

One of the best ways to do this is through life insurance. As mentioned earlier, assets which are tax-free include the death benefit of a life insurance policy. Systematically transferring funds from the tax-exposed investments to, for example, a Participating Whole Life Policy, not only eliminates the reportable tax on the funds transferred, it greatly increases the overall size of the estate to be left tax-free to your beneficiaries – your family and your charities.

Case Study

Let’s consider Ron and Sharon, aged 58 and 56 respectively. They have been told that they have a liquidity need of approximately $1,000,000 which would become payable at the second death. They are also unhappy about the taxes they are paying annually on their investments. They elect to reallocate some of their assets to a Participating Whole Life policy for $1,000,000 last-to-die policy with premiums of $35,000 per year for 20 years.

Over this period, they will transfer a total of approximately $700,000 of investments exposed to income tax to a tax-free environment. If we assume that their life expectancy is 34 years, the Whole Life policy will have grown to a death benefit of approximately $2,630,000*. This represents a pre-tax equivalent yield over this period of approximately 11%. Not only is there more than enough to pay the tax bill but there are funds left over for the family and any charitable donation they wish the estate to make.

In addition, with the transfer from a taxable to tax-free investment, income taxes that would have been paid during their lifetime has also been reduced. Along the way, the Participating Whole Life policy has a growing cash value account which could be borrowed against should the need arise. At the 20th year for example, the cash value of the policy (at current dividend scale), would be approximately $1,071,000.

This case illustrates only one example of how it is possible to optimize the value of an estate through asset re-allocation. By using funds you are never going to spend during your lifetime, you can create a much larger legacy to benefit others while reducing the total cost of your tax bill.

If you would like to investigate this concept to determine the value it can provide you and your family, please be sure to contact me. As always, please feel free to share this information with anyone you think would find it of interest.

* Values shown are using Manulife’s Par 100 Participating Whole Life policy assuming the current dividend scale with premiums paid for 20 years.

5 Top Financial Planning Strategies For Small Business Owners

Creating a financial plan for your business is critical not only for your business’ survival but also for its growth. However, many small business owners struggle to create a comprehensive financial plan that considers all of the financial needs of the business – which should include long term growth goals and contingency plans for any unexpected circumstances. Below, we have compiled a list of the strategies business owners should start with when considering a comprehensive financial plan.

Access To Capital And Debt Management

Talk to a professional when your business needs access to capital – especially if you have just opened your doors. Many new companies do not qualify for traditional, low-interest loans, and some new business owners mistakenly turn to loans with high-interest rates. This can turn out to be a problem for the business in the long-run. If sales are slow at the beginning, then the company could struggle with repaying its debt. It is a good idea to explore all loan options with a professional when you are considering options to raise capital to expand your business. Any financial plan should include ways of accessing capital that won’t cripple your business in the long run.

Favourable Tax Strategies For Your Business

We get it. Business owners are often too busy to research the most favourable tax strategies available to them. However, paying more in taxes can be avoided. Examining different tax strategies with a professional could free up cash and allow the business to achieve its maximum growth potential.

Prepare For The Unexpected

As 2020 has taught us, anything can happen. Regardless of the external or internal circumstances, your business should be prepared. It is a solid financial strategy to develop a contingency plan that will allow your business to adapt to new circumstances.

Do you have a key employee or employees that you rely on to run the business? What would happen if they became ill? What if something happened to you? Would your family still receive an income? Luckily, there are insurance policies designed to protect your business and family in the event that any of these possibilities become an unexpected reality.

Prepare For The Expected, Too

Most of us will want to retire at some point. But how do you plan on transitioning out of the business and into retirement? Many successful business owners understand the importance of having a retirement plan for themselves and their spouse independent from the business. Take a moment and jot down some retirement goals to get a general idea of what your retirement will look like for you. Do you plan on passing the business down to your children? At what age would you like to retire? A good financial plan will help you to retire when you want and how you want.

Protect Your Assets From A Lawsuit

Let’s face it. These days lawsuits happen more frequently than business owners like to admit, so it is a good idea to be prepared. When designing a financial plan, investigate what type of liability insurance would be best to protect your small business. Would general liability insurance suit your needs? Or would you be better suited for a professional liability insurance plan?

This is certainly not a complete list of all the main strategies that a financial plan should include, but it is a starting point to work from. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you think we can help develop a financial plan for you and your business.

As usual, please feel free to share this article with anyone you think might find it of interest.

Government of Canada to allow up to $400 for home office expenses

For the 2020 tax year, the Government of Canada introduced a temporary flat rate method to allow Canadians working from home this year due to Covid-19 to claim expenses of up to $400. Taxpayers will still be able to claim under the existing rules if they choose using the detailed method.

Eligibility

From the canada.ca website:

Each employee working from home who meets the eligibility criteria can use the temporary flat rate method to calculate their deduction for home office expenses.

To use this method to claim the home office expenses you paid, you must meet all of the following conditions:

  • You worked from home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • You worked more than 50% of the time from home for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020

  • You are only claiming home office expenses and are not claiming any other employment expenses

  • Your employer did not reimburse you for all of your home office expensesWhat if your employer has reimbursed you for some of your home office expenses

You need to meet all of the above conditions to be eligible to use the Temporary flat rate method.

New eligible expenses

For the detailed method, the CRA has expanded the list of eligible expenses that can be claimed as work-space-in-the-home expenses to include reasonable home internet access fees. A comprehensive list of eligible home office expenses has also been created.

Highlights of the 2020 Federal Fall Economic Statement | Additional $20,000 CEBA loan available now

On November 30, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland provided the government’s fall economic update. The fall economic update provided information on the government’s strategy both for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its plan to help shape the recovery. We’ve summarized the highlights for you.

Corporate Tax Changes

Information on several subsidy programs was included in the update. These changes apply from December 20, 2020 to March 13, 2021.

  • The government has provided an increase in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to a maximum of 75% of eligible wages.

  • If you are eligible for the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (eligibility is based on your revenue decline), you can claim up to 65% of qualified expenses.

  • The Lockdown Support Subsidy has also been extended – if you are eligible, you can receive a 25% subsidy on eligible expenses.

Also, there were two other significant corporate tax changes:

  • Starting January 1, 2022, the government plans to tax international corporations that provide digital services in Canada if no international consensus on appropriate taxation has been reached.

  • The tax deferral on eligible shares paid by a qualifying agricultural cooperative to its members has been extended to 2026.

Personal Tax Changes

The following personal tax changes were included in the update:

  • The update confirmed the government’s plan to impose a $200,000 limit (based on fair market value) on taxing employee stock options granted after June 2021 at a preferential rate. Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs) are not subject to these rules.

  • If you started working from home due to COVID-19, you could claim up to $400 in expenses.

  • The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) has temporarily been increased to include four additional payments. Depending on your income, you could receive up to $1200.

  • Additional modifications were proposed to how the “assistance holdback” amount is calculated for Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP). The goal of these modifications is to help RDSP beneficiaries who become ineligible for the Disability Tax Credit after 50 years of age.

Indirect Tax Changes

GST/HST changes impacting digital platforms were included in the update. They will be applicable as of July 1, 2021:

  • Foreign-based companies that sell digital products or services in Canada must collect and remit GST or HST on their taxable sales. Also, foreign vendors or digital platform operators with goods for sale via Canadian fulfillment warehouses must collect and remit GST/HST.

  • Short-term rental accommodation booked via a digital platform must charge GST/HST on their booking. The GST/HST rate will be based on the province or territory where the short-term accommodation is located.

And some good news on a GST/HST removal! As of December 6, and until further notice, the government will not charge GST/HST on eligible face masks and face shields.

The Takeaway

A lot of changes came out of the fall update – and you may be feeling overwhelmed. But help is at hand!

Contact us to learn more about how these changes could impact your personal and business finances.


Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) $20,000 expansion available now

The Government of Canada website has been updated with the new CEBA requirements and deadlines:

  • As of December 4, 2020, CEBA loans for eligible businesses will increase from $40,000 to $60,000.

  • Applicants who have received the $40,000 CEBA loan may apply for the $20,000 expansion, which provides eligible businesses with an additional $20,000 in financing.

  • All applicants have until March 31, 2021, to apply for $60,000 CEBA loan or the $20,000 expansion.

Apply online at the financial institution your business banks with:

To get the full details:

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.