2020 Tax Tips: Professionals and Business Owners

Chapter 3

Crowe Soberman Tax Team
Client Tool
| 1/21/2021
Tax Tips for Employers and Professionals

Our annual Tax Tips Guide is here to assist you in your tax planning, presenting some quick ideas and strategies for you to employ.

If you have your own corporation 

Consider your optimum salary/ dividend mix to achieve less overall tax: 

Salary will qualify you and other family members active in the business for RRSP contributions, Canada Pension Plan (“CPP”) contributions, and child-care deductions. In contrast, dividends will not qualify an individual for these contributions or deductions.

In the past, the payment of dividends to shareholders over 17 years of age was an easy way to achieve income splitting, costing the family unit less in current taxes. With the introduction of Tax on Split Income (“TOSI”), income splitting has become significantly more difficult. The TOSI eliminates the tax benefits of paying dividends to family members (with little or no other sources of income), who are not active in the business or who do not own “excluded shares” of the company. If TOSI applies to the dividends, the recipient individual will pay tax on these dividends at the highest marginal tax rate.  Speak to your Crowe Soberman advisor to determine whether you may still benefit from income splitting given your specific circumstances. 

However, if you have family members over the age of 17 who are actively engaged in the business (I.e., working at least 20 hours per week in the business) and own shares of the corporation (directly or indirectly through a family trust), you may split dividend income with them under certain circumstances. Additionally, dividend income may be split with family members over the age of 24 who are not otherwise engaged in the business but own shares of the corporation that entitle them to no less than 10 per cent of the votes and value.  These shares would be considered “excluded shares”, the dividends on which are not subject to TOSI. To meet the “excluded share” exception to the TOSI rules, the corporation can neither be a professional corporation, a corporation that earns its income from the provision of services, nor a holding corporation that receives dividends from its subsidiary operating company.

Family members can be employed in your business and paid salary or wages for their services. The business is entitled to a deduction in respect of this remuneration but only if the amount paid is reasonable for the work performed. Consider accessing funds from the corporation that can be withdrawn tax-free. For example, repay shareholder loans, return capital to shareholders up to the lesser of the paid-up capital and the adjusted cost base of the shares, or roll in personal assets with a high-cost base to the corporation on a tax-deferred basis to extract the cost base of the assets on a tax-free basis.

Defer income that is not required personally for longer period:

If you do not require cash from your corporation to spend personally, consider keeping the funds invested in your corporation and defer the tax payable on the ultimate withdrawal of the funds.  Note that if your corporation is carrying on an active business and the first $500,000 of profits in respect thereof are eligible for the small business deduction (“SBD”), earning more than $50,000 of annual investment income will reduce your corporation’s SBD entitlement.  Once annual investment income exceeds $150,000, the SBD is fully eliminated.  This investment income threshold applies to an associated group of corporations.  Therefore, it is important to monitor the aggregate annual investment income of all associated corporations in the group when assessing the SBD eligibility.

Consider instalments for 2020:

The threshold above which corporations must pay income tax, GST and source deductions instalments is $3,000. The threshold will be based on 2021 tax amounts payable.

Certain Canadian-controlled private corporations are allowed to make quarterly, instead of monthly, income tax instalments. To qualify, certain conditions must be met, including the following criteria relating to the 2020taxation year:

  • The corporation has been in perfect compliance in the previous 12 months;
  • The corporation was entitled to the small business deduction;
  • The taxable income of the associated group did not exceed $500,000; and
  • The taxable capital of the associated group did not exceed $10 million.

Instalment planning for 2021 can be addressed during 2020 by meeting the conditions where applicable.

chapter 3 tax tips for business owners and professionals

Did you know?

Effective for taxation years beginning in 2019, corporations must now track Refundable Dividend Tax on Hand into two separate pools, being Eligible Refundable Dividend Tax on Hand (“ERDTOH”) and Non-Eligible Refundable Dividend Tax on Hand (“NERDTOH”). As such, corporations will obtain a dividend refund on the payment of eligible dividends (which are subject to lower dividend tax rates in the hands of shareholders) only to the extent they have an ERDTOH pool.

Interest deductibility

Where possible, maximize interest deductions by structuring or arranging your borrowings to be incurred, first for business or investment purposes, and then, for personal use.

Where certain business or capital property (e.g., shares, but not real estate or depreciable property) is lost or ceases to earn income, the interest incurred on the related borrowing may in some cases continue to be deductible.

If you are self-employed

If you have a home office and you meet certain conditions, you can deduct eligible home office expenses, including a portion of your mortgage interest, home insurance, property taxes, utilities and minor repairs.

Consider the potential benefits of incorporating your business.

Watch more here.

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Adam Scherer
Managing Partner, (he/him)
Adam Scherer Professional Corporation