Survive the Tax Hike: Essential Strategies for Small Business Owners Faced With New Capital Gains Rules

NEW CAPITAL GAINS RULES

TL;DR: Essential Strategies for Small Business Owners Facing New Capital Gains Rules

The 2024 Federal Budget in Canada introduces significant changes to capital gains tax, impacting small business owners, investors, and corporations. The key change is the increase in the capital gains inclusion rate from 50% to 66.67%, affecting individuals with gains over $250,000 and all corporate gains. Here’s how to navigate these changes:

          1. Deferring Capital Gains

          • Don’t rush to trigger the old 50% rate. Deferring gains (like keeping a family cottage) can be beneficial despite the higher future rate due to the time value of money.
          1. Property Purchases: Personal vs. Corporate

          • Consider buying property personally if you have already-taxed funds to benefit from the lower inclusion rate on the first $250,000 of gains. Corporate purchases use pre-tax dollars but face higher future taxes.
          1. Maximize RRSPs Over Corporate Savings

          • Prioritize contributions to RRSPs and other registered accounts for better long-term tax deferral benefits compared to saving within a corporation.
          1. Strategic Tax Planning

          • Timing Realizations: Spread out the realization of gains to stay below the $250,000 threshold annually.
          • Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE): Use LCGE for qualified business shares and properties to reduce taxable gains.
          • Income Splitting: Utilize family trusts and spousal loans to distribute gains and lower overall tax rates.
          • Tax-Loss Harvesting: Offset gains with losses from other investments to reduce taxable income.
          1. Charitable Donations

          • Donate appreciated securities directly to charities to eliminate capital gains tax and receive enhanced tax credits under new rules.
          1. Corporate Structuring and Reorganization

          • Use holding companies, estate freezes, and Section 85 rollovers to defer and manage capital gains tax efficiently. Plan for smooth business succession and future tax planning.

Practical Tips

          • Consult Tax Professionals: Regularly engage with tax advisors to stay compliant and optimize strategies.
          • Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with legislative changes and adjust strategies accordingly.
          • Utilize Resources: Access CRA and professional association resources for guidance and updates.
Understanding the NEW CAPITAL GAINS RULES
  1. Introduction

Overview of the 2024 Federal Budget

The 2024 Federal Budget has introduced a series of significant changes aimed at addressing economic challenges and optimizing the tax system in Canada. Among these changes, the adjustments to capital gains tax are particularly noteworthy. These changes have implications for a wide range of stakeholders, including small business owners, investors, and corporations.

The budget seeks to strike a balance between increasing government revenue and maintaining a favorable environment for business growth and investment. By understanding these changes, small business owners can better navigate the new tax landscape and make informed decisions that optimize their financial outcomes.

 

Purpose of the Guide

This guide is designed to provide small business owners with a comprehensive understanding of the new capital gains tax changes introduced in the 2024 Federal Budget. It aims to:

  • Explain the key changes and their implications.
  • Offer strategic advice for minimizing tax liabilities.
  • Provide practical tips and best practices for adapting to the new tax environment.
  • Highlight additional resources and professional advice options.

 

Key Changes in Capital Gains Tax

The most significant change in the 2024 budget is the increase in the capital gains inclusion rate from 50% to 66.67%. This change applies to:

  • Individuals who realize more than $250,000 in capital gains in a year.
  • All gains realized by corporations and trusts, regardless of the amount.

 

This increase in the inclusion rate means that a larger portion of capital gains will now be subject to taxation, potentially resulting in higher tax liabilities for those affected. Understanding these changes and planning accordingly is crucial for mitigating their impact.

 

  1. Understanding Capital Gains Tax

 

Definition of Capital Gains

Capital gains refer to the profit earned from the sale of an asset, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, or a business. The gain is calculated as the difference between the purchase price (cost basis) and the sale price of the asset.

 

Historical Context of Capital Gains Tax in Canada

Historically, capital gains have been taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income to incentivize investment and economic growth. The inclusion rate, which determines the portion of capital gains subject to taxation, has varied over time. Prior to the 2024 changes, the inclusion rate was set at 50%, meaning only half of the capital gain was taxable.

This preferential treatment of capital gains has been a cornerstone of Canada’s tax policy, reflecting the belief that lower taxes on investment gains stimulate economic activity and job creation. However, with the new budget, the government has decided to increase the inclusion rate to address fiscal needs and promote tax fairness.

 

The Concept of Inclusion Rate

The inclusion rate is a crucial component of capital gains taxation. It specifies the percentage of the capital gain that is included in taxable income. For example, with an inclusion rate of 50%, only half of the capital gain is taxed. Under the new 2024 rules, this rate has increased to 66.67%, meaning two-thirds of the capital gain will now be taxable.

This change will affect the overall tax burden on capital gains, making it essential for small business owners and investors to re-evaluate their tax strategies and financial plans to account for the higher inclusion rate.

Understanding these fundamental concepts is the first step in navigating the new tax landscape effectively. The following sections will delve deeper into the practical implications and strategic responses to these changes for small business owners.

 

  1. Detailed Breakdown of the 2024 Changes

 

Increased Inclusion Rate: From 50% to 66.67%

The 2024 Federal Budget has introduced a significant change to the taxation of capital gains by increasing the inclusion rate from 50% to 66.67%. This means that two-thirds of any capital gains realized will now be included in taxable income, as opposed to the previous half. This adjustment aims to generate additional revenue for the government while aligning tax policies with equity principles.

 

Thresholds and Applicability

For individuals, the new inclusion rate applies to capital gains exceeding $250,000 in a year. Gains below this threshold will continue to be taxed at the 50% inclusion rate. However, for corporations and trusts, the 66.67% inclusion rate applies universally, regardless of the amount of gains realized.

 

Example:

  • An individual realizing $300,000 in capital gains will have the first $250,000 taxed at the 50% inclusion rate and the remaining $50,000 at the 66.67% rate.

  • A corporation realizing the same $300,000 will have the entire amount taxed at the 66.67% inclusion rate.

 

Impact on Individuals vs. Corporations

The impact of this change varies between individuals and corporate entities. Individuals benefit from the $250,000 threshold, which provides some relief for smaller gains. In contrast, corporations and trusts face a more substantial tax burden as the higher inclusion rate applies to all gains.

For small business owners, this means careful consideration is needed when planning the timing and realization of capital gains. It may also influence decisions related to corporate structuring and investment strategies.

 

  1. Implications for Small Business Owners

 

Direct Impact on Business Owners

Small business owners who sell business assets, real estate, or other investments will experience a higher tax burden on realized capital gains due to the increased inclusion rate. This change necessitates a re-evaluation of financial and tax strategies to mitigate the impact.

 

Key Areas Affected:

  • Sale of business assets or entire businesses.
  • Real estate transactions.
  • Investment portfolios held within the business.

 

Indirect Impact through Investments and Real Estate

Even if a small business owner does not directly realize large capital gains, the increased inclusion rate can affect investment decisions and real estate holdings. The higher tax burden may reduce the overall return on investments, prompting a reconsideration of portfolio strategies and asset allocations.

 

Case Studies of Small Businesses

Case Study 1: A small retail business owner(incorporated) plans to sell their business for $500,000(asset sale). Under the new rules, the capital gains tax liability will be higher, impacting the net proceeds from the sale.

Case Study 2: An entrepreneur with significant real estate investments must now consider the timing of property sales to manage the increased tax burden effectively. Strategies such as staggered sales over multiple years to stay below the $250,000 threshold may be beneficial(owned personally).

 

Strategic Tax Planning

Given the changes, small business owners should adopt strategic tax planning measures to minimize the impact:

  1. Timing of Capital Gains Realization: Consider delaying or staggering the realization of gains to spread the tax burden over multiple years.
  2. Utilizing Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption: Take advantage of the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE) where applicable to shield a portion of the gains from taxation.
  3. Income Splitting and Family Trusts: Use income splitting with family members or family trusts to lower the overall tax rate.
  4. Tax-Loss Harvesting Strategies: Offset gains with losses from other investments to reduce taxable income.

Example: A business owner can sell loss-making assets to offset gains realized in the same year, thereby reducing the taxable amount subject to the higher inclusion rate.

 

Understanding these new changes and their implications is crucial for small business owners to effectively navigate the 2024 tax landscape. Strategic planning, timing of transactions, and leveraging available exemptions and deductions will be essential to manage the increased tax liabilities resulting from the higher capital gains inclusion rate.

 

  1. Strategic Tax Planning

Timing of Capital Gains Realization

One of the most effective strategies for managing the impact of the increased capital gains inclusion rate is careful timing of gains realization. By spreading the sale of assets over multiple years, small business owners can potentially stay below the $250,000 threshold for individuals, ensuring that only a portion of their gains is taxed at the higher rate.

 

Strategies:

  • Staggered Sales: Plan asset sales in phases to avoid a large one-time capital gain.
  • Year-End Planning: Evaluate the timing of transactions near year-end to optimize tax outcomes.

 

Utilizing Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption

The Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE) can significantly reduce the taxable amount of capital gains for qualifying small business shares and qualified farm or fishing properties. In 2024, the LCGE is set at ~$1.00 million, indexed to inflation from 2026.

 

Action Steps:

  • Qualification Check: Ensure the assets meet the criteria for LCGE.
  • Maximizing Exemption: Plan sales to fully utilize the exemption, especially before retirement or significant life events.

 

Income Splitting and Family Trusts

Income splitting and the use of family trusts can be effective in lowering the overall tax burden by spreading income across multiple family members in lower tax brackets.

 

Approaches:

  • Spousal Loans: Provide loans to a spouse at the prescribed rate, where investment income is taxed at the spouse’s lower rate.
  • Family Trusts: Allocate capital gains to beneficiaries in lower tax brackets through a family trust.

 

Tax-Loss Harvesting Strategies

Tax-loss harvesting involves selling investments that are currently at a loss to offset gains realized in other investments. This strategy can help reduce the overall taxable capital gains.

 

Implementation:

  • Identify Loss Positions: Regularly review investment portfolios to identify potential loss positions.
  • Offset Gains: Use realized losses to offset gains within the same tax year or carry back to previous years.

 

  1. Charitable Donations and Capital Gains

 

Updated Rules for Charitable Donations of Shares

The 2024 Federal Budget includes changes to the rules governing charitable donations of shares, particularly regarding the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Under the new rules, individuals can now claim 80% of the charitable donation tax credit, an increase from the previously proposed 50%, when calculating the AMT. This adjustment aims to encourage more significant charitable contributions by reducing the tax burden on donors.

 

Key Points:

  • Increased AMT Relief: The higher percentage for AMT calculations means donors can receive a more substantial tax credit for their charitable donations.
  • Impact on High Net-Worth Individuals: This change is particularly beneficial for high net-worth individuals who make significant donations, as it mitigates the potential AMT liability.

 

Maximizing Tax Credits through Donations

Small business owners can leverage charitable donations to optimize their tax position, especially given the updated rules. Donating appreciated securities directly to a charity can provide a dual benefit of a charitable tax credit and the elimination of the capital gains tax on the donated securities.

 

Strategies:

  • Direct Donations of Shares: Donate shares that have appreciated in value to eliminate capital gains tax and receive a charitable tax credit.
  • Planned Giving: Incorporate charitable donations into long-term financial and estate planning to maximize tax benefits over time.

 

Example:

A business owner donates shares worth $100,000, originally purchased for $50,000. Under the new rules, they avoid the capital gains tax on the $50,000 gain and receive a tax credit for the full market value of the donation.

 

  1. Corporate Structuring and Reorganization

Structuring Businesses to Minimize Tax Impact

Effective corporate structuring can help small business owners manage the increased tax burden from the higher capital gains inclusion rate. By organizing the business in a tax-efficient manner, owners can reduce their overall tax liability.

 

Approaches:

  • Holding Companies: Use holding companies to defer capital gains and manage income distribution more effectively.
  • Shareholder Agreements: Review and update shareholder agreements to reflect the new tax environment and optimize tax outcomes for all parties involved.

 

Example:

A holding company structure can allow a business owner to defer realizing capital gains until a more favorable tax environment or until they can offset gains with other losses.

 

Reorganizations and Deferral Strategies

Reorganizing the business can provide opportunities to defer or reduce capital gains taxes. Techniques such as estate freezes, rollovers, and using family trusts can be particularly effective.

 

Strategies:

  • Estate Freezes: Lock in the current value of the business and transfer future growth to the next generation, reducing immediate capital gains liability.
  • Section 85 Rollovers: Defer capital gains tax by transferring assets to a corporation in exchange for shares under Section 85 of the Income Tax Act.
  • Family Trusts: Use family trusts to allocate income and capital gains to beneficiaries in lower tax brackets, spreading the tax burden.

 

Impact on Succession Planning:

  • Smooth Transitions: Estate freezes and other reorganization strategies can facilitate smoother transitions of business ownership to the next generation, minimizing tax impacts.
  • Future Tax Planning: By planning for succession early, business owners can take advantage of current tax rules and prepare for potential future changes.

 

  1. Practical Tips and Best Practices

Consultation with Tax Professionals

Engaging with tax professionals is essential to navigate the complexities of the new capital gains tax rules effectively. They can provide tailored advice and help implement strategies to minimize tax liabilities.

Benefits:

  • Expertise and Guidance: Tax professionals offer insights into the latest tax laws and regulations, ensuring compliance and optimal tax planning.
  • Customized Strategies: Professionals can develop customized tax strategies based on the specific circumstances and goals of the business.

 

Best practices:

  • Don’t Rush to Trigger the 50% Inclusion Rate: While the increase in the capital gains inclusion rate from 50% to 66.67% might seem daunting, it’s essential to consider the long-term perspective. The effective tax rate increase is about 32%, but paying the higher rate in the distant future may be more beneficial due to the time value of money. For instance, if you own a cottage you intend to keep within your family, it’s generally wiser to defer realizing gains (and thus paying taxes) for another 20-30 years. Although the tax rate will be higher, deferring the tax allows you to use the funds that would have been paid in taxes to generate additional returns over time, potentially outweighing the cost of the increased tax rate.
  • Buying New Property Personally or in a Corporation: When deciding whether to purchase property personally or through a corporation, consider the long-term tax implications. Buying property through a corporation allows you to use pre-tax dollars for the down payment, which can be advantageous initially. However, this comes with the downside of higher capital gains taxes when the property is sold. If you have already taxed personal funds available, it might be more beneficial to buy the property personally. This approach takes advantage of the first $250,000 of capital gains being taxed at the lower 50% inclusion rate, reducing your overall tax burden.
  • Should I Save Up in My Corporation or Personal RRSPs?: For most small business owners, it’s advisable to prioritize maximizing contributions to registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and other tax-advantaged accounts (like TFSAs) before saving within the corporation. These registered accounts offer significant long-term tax deferral benefits. Investing in publicly traded securities or private equity placements through RRSPs ensures that your investments grow tax-free until withdrawal, often resulting in a more favorable tax outcome compared to saving within a corporate account where investment income might be subject to higher taxes.

 

  1. Additional Resources

Government Resources and Publications

Utilize resources provided by government agencies to understand tax obligations and benefits. These resources often include guides, forms, and updates on tax regulations.

 

Key Resources:

 

Professional Associations and Advisory Services

Joining professional associations and leveraging advisory services can provide valuable support and networking opportunities for small business owners.

 

Examples:

  • Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB): Provides advocacy, resources, and support for small businesses in Canada.
  • Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Canada: Offers resources, education, and professional development for accountants and business owners.

 

 

  1. Conclusion

Recap of Key Points

The 2024 Federal Budget’s increase in the capital gains inclusion rate from 50% to 66.67% represents a significant change for small business owners. By understanding these changes and implementing strategic tax planning measures, business owners can minimize their tax liabilities and optimize their financial outcomes.

 

  1. Be Proactive: Start planning early and review your financial situation regularly to identify tax planning opportunities.
  2. Consult Professionals: Work with tax advisors and financial professionals to develop and implement effective strategies.
  3. Stay Informed: Keep up with legislative changes and adapt your strategies as needed to remain compliant and take advantage of new opportunities.

 

Appendices

 

Appendix A: Detailed Examples and Calculations

Example 1: Calculating Capital Gains Tax for an Individual

  • Purchase price of asset: $100,000
  • Sale price of asset: $300,000
  • Capital gain: $200,000
  • Taxable gain at 50% inclusion rate (first $250,000): $100,000
  • Taxable gain at 66.67% inclusion rate (remaining $50,000): $33,335
  • Total taxable amount: $133,335

Example 2: Utilizing Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption

  • Sale of qualified small business shares: $1,000,000
  • Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE): $1,250,000
  • Taxable capital gain after LCGE: $0

 

Appendix B: Glossary of Terms

 

  • Capital Gain: The profit from the sale of an asset.
  • Inclusion Rate: The percentage of a capital gain that is taxable.
  • Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE): A tax exemption for gains on the sale of qualified small business shares and qualified farm or fishing properties.

 

References resources

  • Canada Revenue Agency. (2024). “Capital Gains Tax Information.” [CRA Website](https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/publications/t4037/capital-gains.html)
  • Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). (2024). “Capital Gains Changes.” [CFIB Website](https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/en/research/capital-gains-changes)
  • BMO Private Wealth. (2024). “Federal Budget 2024: Capital Gains Taxes Climb; Some Nuggets for Entrepreneurs.” [BMO Private Wealth Insights](https://privatewealth-insights.bmo.com/federal-budget-2024-capital-gains-taxes-climb)
Eric Saumure, CPA, CA, Principal

Eric Saumure, CPA, CA, Principal

Eric is a recognized Chartered Accountant (CA) and Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) in the province of Ontario. Eric Saumure studied Accounting and Business at University of Ottawa, and obtained his CPA, CA designation during his time at KPMG LLP. Eric has 11 years of experience and actively works with over 300 clients. Eric Saumure is a Quickbooks Online ProAdvisor and a Xero Certified Partner.
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

STAY IN THE LOOP with zenbooks by signing up FOR OUR NEWSLETTER