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How Investment Income Is Taxed

Investments can represent a major source of income for some individuals and with that income comes a wide variety of tax implications. The good news is that some types of investment incomes are subject to special tax treatment. Understanding how your investments are taxed is an important part of your financial plan. The most common types of investment income most investors will have to deal with are interest, dividends, and capital gains.

What You Need to Know

Interest Income

Interest income refers to the compensation an individual receives from making funds available to another party. Interest income is earned most commonly on fixed income securities, such as bonds and GIC’s. It is taxed at your marginal tax rate without any preferential tax treatment and is taxed annually whether or not it has been withdrawn from the investment.

Example: An investor buys a 10-year GIC that has agreed to pay him 4% annually. If the investor bought the GIC for $100, he can expect to earn $4.00 in interest every year for the next 10 years. The investor must report the $4.00 of interest income on his income taxes and will be taxed at the marginal tax rate. 

Due to the fact that interest income is reported as regular income, it is the least favorable way to earn investment income.

Dividend Income

Dividend income is considered to be property income. A dividend is generally a distribution of corporate profit that has been divided among the corporation’s shareholders. The Canadian government gives preferential tax treatment to Canadian Controlled Public Corporations (CCPC) in the form of a dividend income gross up and Dividend Tax Credit (DTC). The two types of Canadian dividends are usually referred to eligible or non-eligible. It is possible to receive dividends from a foreign corporation, but these dividends are not subject to any special tax treatments and are to be reported in Canadian dollars as regular income.

Tax payers who receive eligible dividends are subject to a 38% dividend income gross up, which is then offset by a federal DTC worth 15.02% of the total grossed up amount. Non-eligible dividends are subject to a gross up of 17% and 10.5% DTC.

Example: A shareholder of a Canadian Controlled Public Corporation is paid out a dividend of $100. This income is considered to be an eligible dividend and is subject to the gross up and the DTC. His dividend would be gross up 38%, so he would now have an income of $138.00.  The DTC would be 15.02% of the grossed-up amount, equaling $20.73. Therefore, the shareholder would report a dividend income of $138.00, but would have his federal taxes owing reduced by $20.73. 

The rationale for the gross up and DTC is related to the fact that dividends are paid in after-tax corporate earnings. If there were no adjustment to the dividend, it would result in the dollars being double taxed.  This tax treatment makes dividends the most tax efficient way to receive income. Tax is payable when the dividends are paid out. It is, however, important to note that the gross up and DTC rates are influenced heavily by legislation and could change at any time.

Capital Gains

Capital gains are realized on equity investments (such as stocks) that appreciate in value. For example, if an investor bought a stock at $5.00 per share and sold them at $10.00 per share, they would have a capital gain of $5.00. What makes capital gains different from other types of investment income is that you only are required to pay tax on 50% of the gain. Another desirable trait of capital gain income is that you do not have to pay tax until the investment is disposed of, giving the investor some control over when they trigger the gain and pay the tax. Whether or not they are the most tax efficient income depends on your province of residence and subsequent tax rates.

The Bottom Line

It is important to ensure that investors understand how their investments are being taxed and the implications that different types of investment income can have on your taxes owing. A great first step is meeting with an advisor who can help you put together the most tax efficient investing strategy, making sure your money is reaching its full potential…not going to the tax man!

Owe More Taxes than You Can Pay? Here Are Your Options.

Tax season is upon us and unfortunately that means paying any taxes that may be outstanding. Taxes should be carefully planned each year to ensure they do not become overwhelming, but what happens if you are faced with an unexpectedly large bill?

The most important thing to do if you have a large tax bill coming your way is to file your taxes on time.  Avoidance does not work with the CRA and it is best to face tax debt head one.  Delaying will only end up with additional penalties. There are a number of strategies available to help you deal with your tax debt.

What You Need to Know

1. Get a Personal Loan: This is the first step the CRA will expect you to take to pay off your debt.  Personal loans, borrowing against the value of your home, or borrowing from an individual are all options here. This will be the path of least resistance for most people. A personal loan will wipe out your debt to the CRA and allow you to create a reasonable payment plan for your situation that gives you flexibility to defer if necessary.

2. Access the Value in Your Home: Your home is often the biggest asset you own. Therefore, there are usually options to borrow against the value of the home. This can be done is a few ways:

  • Home Equity Line of Credit: The first options are looking into lending products such as a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). HELOC’s work by allowing a homeowner to take out of large line of credit on their home.  Many people use these products as a mortgage alternative, but they also work to access the value of your home without selling the property.
  • Refinancing your Home: Refinancing is essentially taking a new mortgage out on your house. If you currently have a mortgage, this may mean replacing that mortgage with a new one that has a higher principal amount. If you are currently living mortgage free, this means picking a mortgage on the house as you normally would if you were buying a new house.
  • Use Your House as Collateral for a Loan: Many loans, especially those of large amounts, require collateral before they are issued. This means the lending institution wants something of value put up against the loan in case the loan is not repaid.
  • Sell Your Property: A last resort but selling a property may be the only way to gain access to its value if you are unable to secure financing.

3. Request for Taxpayer Relief: Individuals with outstanding debts to the CRA may be able to request “Taxpayer Relief”. Taxpayer Relief can reduce your amount owing by offering relief from penalties and interest charges.  Typically, taxpayer relief is only granted under extraordinary circumstances such as job loss, serious illness, and a clear inability to pay. Taxpayers must submit a formal request to the CRA using form RC4288 and submitting complete and accurate documentation of their circumstances.

4. Request a Payment Plan: Taxpayers may request a payment plan from the CRA but only after they have exhausted all other reasonable options to pay their balance i.e. Personal loan, refinancing house etc. Payment plans are typically not available for large amounts that can’t be repaid in a year. When negotiating a payment plan with the CRA it is always best to involve a tax professional who can make the negotiation for you.  CRA negotiators are experienced and their main concern is getting the balance owing as quickly as possible. It isn’t uncommon for taxpayers to enter a payment plan that is unrealistic for their financial situation.  CRA’s priority will always be the debt owed to them.

5. Declare Bankruptcy: Declaring bankruptcy has devastating short- and long-term financial effects and should only be utilized as an absolute last resort. Assets could be ceased and you will be unable to obtain credit for many years.  All options should be exhausted before resorting to bankruptcy. Hiring a debt counselor to help you decide if bankruptcy is indeed your only option would be prudent.

The Bottom Line

Tax debt can be overwhelming but realize there are options available to you.  It is always recommended that a professional tax consultant be hired if debt becomes unmanageable. They can help you consolidate debt, make payment plans, and negotiate with the CRA on your behalf.

5 Ways to Avoid Capital Gains Tax

Capital Gains tax occurs when you sell capital property for more than you paid for it. In Canada, you are only taxed on 50% of your capital gain. For example, if you bought an investment for $25,000 and sold it for $75,000 you would have a capital gain of $50,000.  You would then be taxed on 50% of the gain. In this instance, you would pay tax on $25,000.  In Canada, there are some legitimate ways to avoid paying this tax: Tax shelters, Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption, Capital Losses, Deferring, and Charitable Giving. *

What You Need to Know

1.   Tax Shelters

RRSPs and TFSAs are investment vehicles that are available to Canadians that allow investments to be bought and sold with no immediate tax implications:

  • RRSPs – Registered Retirement Savings Plans are popular tax sheltering accounts.  Investments in these accounts grow tax free and you are not subject to capital gains on profits.  When you withdraw your funds, you will be taxed at your marginal tax rate.
  • TFSAs – Tax Free Savings Accounts are like RRSPs in that they allow investments to grow tax free and you are not subject to capital gains tax on the profits you make. The key difference between TFSAs and RRSPs is that TFSAs hold after tax dollars. This means you can withdraw from the account without incurring tax penalties.

2.   Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption

The Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption is available to some small business owners in Canada. It is allowing them to avoid capital gains when they sell shares of their business, a farming property, or fishing property. The CRA determines the exemption amount annually.  The Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption amount is cumulative over your lifetime and can be used until the entire amount has been applied.

3.   Offset Capital Losses

Generally, if you have had an allowable capital loss for the year, you can use it offset any capital gain tax you have owing. This can reduce or eliminate the taxes you will owe. There are a few considerations for employing this strategy:

  • Losses have to a real loss in the eyes of the CRA. Superficial losses will not be allowed to offset gains.
  • You can carry your losses forward or backward to apply them to different tax years. Losses can be carried back 3 years and carried forward indefinitely. This means you can accumulate losses that can be used to offset gains in future years.

4.   Defer Your Earnings

A possible strategy is to defer your earnings on the sale of an asset because you only will owe tax on the earnings that you have received.  For example, if you sell a property for $200,000 you could ask the buyer to stagger their payments over 4 years. Then you would receive $50,000 a year. This would allow you to spread out your capital gain tax.

This strategy is known as the Capital Gain Reserve.  There are a few things you need to keep in mind before using this strategy:

  • The Capital Gains Reserve can be claimed up to 5 years.
  • There is a 20% inclusion rate for each year. This means you must include at least 20% of the proceeds in your income each year for up to 5 years.
  • There are some instances that the 5-year period can be extended to 10 years.

5.   Charity

Consider donating shares of property to charities instead of cash. This method allows you to make a charitable donation, receive a tax credit based on the donation, and avoid tax on any profit. Win-win!

* Avoiding or deferring Capital Gain Taxes should always be done with the guidance of a professional financial advisor and accountant to ensure all CRA guidelines are being carefully followed.

Book an appointment to meet with us! Click Here

The Insanity of RRSP Season

As each February concludes and RRSP contribution season ends, investors across Canada exhale and exclaim, “Never again.”  Investors go through a swirl of emotions awaiting annual bonuses and jumping through hoops to make their annual RRSP contribution. And the next year, they will do it all over again. To change this hamster-wheel of hastily called meetings, sound recommendations hobbled by hurried decisions the planning should begin long before RRSP season. There is no time like the present to change the upcoming flurry of activity associated with RRSPs.

Most importantly of all, a last-minute approach to retirement saving and investing means that you do not benefit as much as you could. Instead of enjoying the rewarding experience of saving for the future, it becomes a panicked, last-minute appointment. This is far from the measured, planned and calm approach that trusted Advisors espouse. A new routine can be created with a Pre-Authorized Credit (PAC) that makes regular contributions to your RRSP.

 What you need to know

What would be the difference to an investor between depositing $24,000 per year at the end of February versus $2,000 at the beginning of every month?  The difference becomes clear when calculated over a 20-year period. In both scenarios an investor has contributed the same amount, $600,000 (25 x $24,000 or 300 x $2,000).

But the amount at the end of the period is not the same! 

  • At 6% after 25 years the annual $24,000 approach will yield $1,316,748
  • At 6% after 25 years the monthly $2,000 approach will yield $1,385,988

A difference of nearly $70,000!

In almost every case, this is a conservative estimate. The difference is usually much larger because an investor who commits to monthly contributions and agrees to a PAC (Pre-Authorized Contributions) is much more disciplined. An annual, large payment is more susceptible to the negative effects of variations in year-end bonuses and a year of day-to-day spending. The temptation is to believe that, if skipped, payments can be caught-up later, which the effects of compound interest make it difficult to achieve.

 The Bottom Line

Setting up a monthly PAC can help you retire sooner. The only difference is how frequently you make your RRSP contributions. Nothing more, nothing less.

Contact us to discuss starting or increasing your RRSP PAC!! Click Here!