Extended COVID-19 Federal Emergency Benefits

On Friday, February 19, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an extension to several of the COVD-19 federal emergency benefits.  The goal of this extension is to support Canadians who are still being financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following benefits are impacted:

  • Canada Recovery Benefit 

  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit 

  • Employment Insurance

Canada Recovery Benefit

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) provides income support to anyone who is:

  • Employed or self-employed, but not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.

  • Has had their income reduced by at least 50 percent due to COVID-19. 

You can receive up to $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) a week every two weeks for the CRB. The recent changes now allow you to apply for this benefit for a total of 38 weeks – previously the maximum was 26 weeks.  

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) helps support people who cannot work because they must supervise a child under 12 or other family members due to COVID-19. For example, a school is closed due to COVID-19 or your child must self-isolate because they have COVID-19.  

You can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for each 1-week period you claim the CRCB. The recent extension made now allows you to apply for this benefit for a total of 38 weeks instead of the previous 26 weeks. 

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

The $500 a week ($450 after taxes) Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) is also getting a boost. If you cannot work because you are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, you can now apply for this benefit for a total of four weeks. Previously, this benefit would only cover up to two missed weeks of work. 

Employment Insurance 

Finally, the government will also be increasing the amount of time you can claim Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. You will now be able to claim EI for a maximum of 50 weeks – this is an increase of 24 weeks from the previous eligibility maximum.

For full details, go to https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update/covid-19-benefits-credits-support-payments.html

Self-employed: Government of Canada addresses CERB repayments for some ineligible self-employed recipients

Great news for some ineligible self-employed Canadians who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). As per canada.ca:

“Today, the Government of Canada announced that self-employed individuals who applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and would have qualified based on their gross income will not be required to repay the benefit, provided they also met all other eligibility requirements. The same approach will apply whether the individual applied through the Canada Revenue Agency or Service Canada.

This means that, self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 and who applied for the CERB will not be required to repay the CERB, as long as their gross self-employment income was at least $5,000 and they met all other eligibility criteria.

Some self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 may have already voluntarily repaid the CERB. The CRA and Service Canada will return any repaid amounts to these individuals. Additional details will be available in the coming weeks.”

For full details, see full news release at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/news/2021/02/government-of-canada-announces-targeted-interest-relief-on-2020-income-tax-debt-for-low–and-middle-income-canadians.html

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.

Business Owners: 2020 Tax Planning Tips for the End of the Year

It’s a great time to review your business finances now that we are nearing year-end. Your business may be affected by recent tax changes or new measures to help with financial losses due to COVID-19. Figuring out the tax ramifications of these new measures can be complicated, so please don’t hesitate to consult your accountant and us to determine how this may affect your business finances.

We’re assuming that your corporate year-end is December 31. If it’s not, then this information will be useful when your business year-end comes up.

Below, we have listed some of the critical areas to consider and provide you with some helpful guidelines to make sure that you cover all the essentials. We have divided our tax planning tips into four sections:

  • Year-end tax checklist

  • Remuneration

  • Business tax

  • Estate

Business Year-End Tax Checklist

Remuneration

  • Salary/dividend mix

  • Accruing your salary/bonus

  • Stock option plan

  • Tax-free amounts

  • Paying family members

  • COVID-19 wage subsidy measures for employers

Business Tax

  • Claiming the small business deduction

  • Shareholder loans

  • Passive investment income including eligible and ineligible dividends

  • Corporate reorganization

Estate

  • Will review

  • Succession plan

  • Lifetime capital gains exemption

Remuneration

What is your salary and dividend mix?

Individuals who own incorporated businesses can elect to receive their income as either salary or as dividends. Your choice will depend on your situation. Consider the following factors:

  • Your current and future cash flow needs

  • Your personal income level

  • The corporation’s income level

  • Tax on income splitting (TOSI) rules. When TOSI rules apply, be aware that dividends are taxed at the highest marginal tax rate.

  • Passive investment income rules

Also consider the difference between salary and dividends:

Salary

  • Can be used for RRSP contribution

  • Reduces corporate tax bill

  • Subject to payroll tax

  • Subject to CPP contribution

  • Subject to EI contribution

Dividend

  • Does not provide RRSP contribution

  • Does not reduce a corporate tax bill

  • No tax withholdings

  • No CPP contribution

  • No EI Insurance contribution

  • Depending on the province¹, receive up to $50,000 of eligible dividends at a low tax rate provided you have no other sources of income

¹The amount and tax rate will vary based on province/territory you live in.

It’s worth considering ensuring that you receive a salary high enough to take full advantage of the maximum RRSP annual contribution that you can make. For 2020, salaries of $154,611 will provide the maximum RRSP room of $27,830 for 2021.

Is it worth accruing your salary or bonus this year?

You could consider accruing your salary or bonus in the current year but delaying payment of it until the following year. If your company’s year-end is December 31, your corporation will benefit from a deduction for the year 2020. The source deductions are not required to be remitted until actual salary or bonus payment in 2021.

Stock Option Plan

If your compensation includes stock options, check if you will be affected by the stock option rules that went into effect on January 1, 2020. These new rules cap the amount of specific employee stock options eligible for the stock option deduction at $200,000 as of January 1, 2020. These rules will not affect you if a Canadian controlled private corporation grants your stock options.

Tax-Free Amounts

If you own your corporation, pay yourself tax-free amounts if you can. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Pay yourself rent if the company occupies space in your home.

  • Pay yourself capital dividends if your company has a balance in its capital dividend account.

  • Return “paid-up capital” that you have invested in your company

Do you employ members of your family?

Employing and paying a salary to family members who work for your incorporated business is worth considering. You could receive a tax deduction against the salary you pay them, providing that the salary is “reasonable” with the work done. In 2020, the individual can earn up to $13,229 (increased for 2020 from $12,298) and pay no federal tax. This also provides the individual with RRSP contribution room, CPP and allows for child-care deductions. Bear in mind there are additional costs incurred when employing someone, such as payroll taxes and contributions to CPP.

COVID-19 wage subsidy measures for employers

To deal with the financial hardships introduced by COVID-19, the federal government introduced two wage subsidy measures:

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program. With this, you can receive a subsidy of up to 85% of eligible remuneration that you paid between March 15 and December 19, 2020, if you had a decrease in revenue over this period. You must submit your application for the CEWS no later than January 31, 2021.

  • The Temporary Wage Subsidy (TWS) program. With this program, which reduces the amount of payroll deductions you needed to remit to the CRA, you can qualify for a subsidy equal to 10% of any remuneration that you paid between March 18, 2020, and June 19, 2020. You can claim up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 in total.

You can apply for both programs if you are eligible. If you qualify for the TWS but did not reduce your payroll remittances, you can still apply. The CRA will then either pay the subsidy amount to you or transfer it over to your next year’s remittance.

Business Tax

Claiming the Small Business Deduction

Are you able to claim a small business deduction? The federal small business tax rate decreased to 9% in 2019. It did not increase in 2020, nor is it expected to increase in 2021. From a provincial level, there will be changes in the following provinces:

Therefore, a small business deduction in 2020 is worth more than in 2021 for these provinces.

Should you repay any shareholder loans?

Borrowing funds from your corporation at a low or zero interest rate means that you are considered to have received a taxable benefit at the CRA’s 1% prescribed interest rate, less actual interest that you pay during the year or thirty days after the end of the year. You need to include the loan in your income tax return unless it is repaid within one year after the end of your corporation’s taxation year.

For example, if your company has a December 31 year-end and loaned you funds on November 1, 2020, you must repay the loan by December 31, 2021; otherwise, you will need to include the loan as taxable income on your 2020 personal tax return.

Passive investment income

If your corporation has a December year-end, then 2020 will be the second taxation year that the current passive investment income rules may apply to your company.

New measures were introduced in the 2018 federal budget relating to private businesses, which earn passive investment income in a corporation that also operates an active business.

There are two key parts to this:

  • Limiting access to dividend refunds. Essentially, a private company will be required to pay ineligible dividends to receive dividend refunds on some taxes. In the past, these could have been refunded when an eligible dividend was paid.

  • Limiting the small business deduction. This means that, for impacted companies, the small business deduction will be reduced at a rate of $5 for every $1 of investment income over $50,000. It is eliminated if investment income exceeds $150,000. Ontario and New Brunswick are not following these federal rules. Therefore, the provincial small business deduction is still available for income up to $500,000 annually.

Suppose your corporation earns both active business and passive investment income. In that case, you should contact your accountant and us directly to determine if there are any planning opportunities to minimize the new passive investment income rules’ impact. For example, you can consider a “buy and hold” strategy to help defer capital gains.

Think about when to pay dividends and dividend type

When choosing to pay dividends in 2020 or 2021, you should consider the following:

  • Difference between the yearly tax rate

  • Impact of tax on split income

  • Impact of passive investment income rules

Except for two provinces, Quebec and Alberta, the combined top marginal tax rates will not change from 2020 to 2021 at a provincial level. Therefore, it will not make a difference for most locations if you choose to pay in 2020 or 2021.

In Quebec and Alberta, as there will be increases in the combined marginal tax rate, you will have potential tax savings available if you choose to pay dividends in 2020 rather than 2021.

When deciding to pay a dividend, you will need to decide whether to pay out eligible or ineligible dividends. Consider the following:

  • Dividend refund claim limits: Eligible refundable dividend tax on hand (ERDTOH) vs Ineligible Refundable dividend tax on hand (NRDTOH)

  • Personal marginal tax rate of eligible vs. ineligible dividends (see chart below)

Given the passive investment income rules, typically, it makes sense to pay eligible dividends to deplete the ERDTOH balance before paying ineligible dividends. (Please note that ineligible dividends can also trigger a refund from the ERDTOH account.)

Eligible dividends are taxed at a lower personal tax rate than ineligible dividends (based on top combined marginal tax rate). However, keep in mind that when ineligible dividends are paid out, they are subject to the small business deduction; therefore, the dividend gross-up is 15% while eligible dividends are subject to the general corporate tax rate, a dividend gross-up is 38%. It’s important to talk to a professional to determine what makes the most sense when selecting the type of dividend to pay out of your corporation.

Corporate Reorganization

It might be time to revisit your corporate structure, given recent changes to private corporation rules on income splitting and passive investment income to provide more control on dividend income distribution.

Before you issue dividends to other shareholders in your private company (this includes your spouse, children, or other relatives), review the TOSI rules’ impact with us or your tax and legal advisors.

Another reason to reassess your structure is to segregate investment assets from your operating company for asset protection. You don’t want to trigger TOSI, so make sure you structure this properly. If you are considering succession planning, this is the time to evaluate your corporate structure as well.

Another aspect of corporate reorganization can be loss consolidation – where you consolidate losses from within related corporate groups.

Estate

Ensure your will is up to date

If your estate plan includes an intention for your family members to inherit your business using a trust, ensure that this plan is still tax-effective; income tax changes from January 1, 2016 eliminated the taxation at graduated rates in testamentary trusts and now taxes these trusts at the top marginal personal income tax rate. Review your will to ensure that any private company shares that you intend to leave won’t be affected by the most recent TOSI rules.

Succession plan

Consider a succession plan to ensure your business is transferred to your children, key employees or outside party in a tax-efficient manner.

Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption

If you sell your qualified small business corporation shares, you can qualify for the lifetime capital gains exemption (In 2020, the exemption is $883,384), where the gain is entirely exempt from tax. The exemption is a cumulative lifetime exemption; therefore, you don’t have to claim the entire amount at once.

The issues we discussed above can be complicated. Contact your accountant and us if you have any questions. We can help.

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:

Applications for the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy starts today!

For businesses, non-profits and charities facing uncertainty and economic challenges due to COVID-19, the Government of Canada is now taking applications for the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). The CERS delivers direct and targeted rent support without the need to claim assistance through landlords and provides:

  • up to 65% of rent for businesses, charities and non-profits impacted by COVID-19.

  • an additional 25% Lockdown Support during a public health lockdown order.

From the canada.ca website:

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

Canadian businessesnon-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021.

This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords.

If you are eligible for the base subsidy, you may also be eligible for lockdown support if your business location is significantly affected by a public health order for a week or more.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible to receive the rent subsidy, you must meet all four of the following criteria – you:

  1. Meet at least one of these conditions:

    • You had a CRA business number on September 27, 2020

      OR

    • You had a payroll account on March 15, 2020, or another person or partnership made payroll remittances on your behalf

      OR

    • You purchased the business assets of another person or partnership who meets condition 2 above, and have made an election under the special asset acquisition rules
      These special asset acquisition rules are the same for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
      OR

    • You meet other prescribed conditions that might be introduced
      Note: there are no prescribed conditions at this time

    If you don’t have a business number but you qualify under condition b or c, you will need to set one up before you are able to apply for CERS. You do not need a payroll account to apply for CERS.

  2. Are an eligible business, charity, or non-profit (eligible entity)

    Check which types of businesses, charities, or non-profits are eligible

    If your business, charity, or non-profit is related to another eligible entity, you may be considered an “affiliated entity”. This may affect your calculations for the subsidy.

    Learn more about affiliated entities

  3. Experienced a drop in revenue

    Your drop in revenue is calculated by comparing your eligible revenue during the reference period with your eligible revenue from a previous period (baseline revenue).

    There is no minimum revenue drop required to qualify for the subsidy. The rate your revenue has dropped is only used to calculate how much subsidy you receive for these periods.

    Calculate your revenue drop online

    After you have read about the expenses you can claim, you can use the online calculator to find your revenue drop while calculating how much subsidy you may receive.

    OR

    Read about the calculation

    You can read the in-depth details of how the revenue drop is calculated.

    Check what counts as eligible revenue

    A CERS application must be filed no later than 180 days after the end of a claim period.

  4. Have eligible expenses

    To apply for CERS, you must have a qualifying property. Only certain expenses you pay for qualifying properties are eligible for CERS.
    Learn about qualifying properties and which expenses you can claim

The full details of the CERS can be found at: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-rent-subsidy.html

Accessing Corporate Earnings

One of the financial planning issues that business owners face is how to access their corporate earnings in a tax efficient way.

There are 5 standard methods:

  • Salary

  • Dividend

  • Shareholder Loans

  • Transfer Personal Assets

  • Income Splitting

There are also unique ways utilizing life insurance and critical illness insurance to access your retained earnings. Please contact us to learn how we can get more money in your pocket than in the government’s.