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The dividend series – Dividends, Investment Income & Taxation – Part B

What does the future hold?

For taxation years beginning after December 31, 2018, all Canadian controlled private corporations (CCPCs) earning investment income must consider a new set of complex rules relating to their refundable dividend tax on hand (RDTOH) balances. These rules could increase the tax costs to individuals when distributing corporate funds from their private corporations. Before January 1, 2019, taxpayers will need to review their companies’ RDTOH balances to determine whether planning is required.

The new RDTOH regime

The 2018 federal budget announced new measures that restrict the ability to recover RDTOH through the payment of eligible dividends, with limited exceptions. This means that the cost of extracting profits from a CCPC may go up for the typical owner-manager.
Effective for taxation years beginning after December 31, 2018, the existing RDTOH account will be segregated into two new accounts:

  •  a non-eligible RDTOH (NRDTOH) account will track the refundable (Part I) taxes incurred on investment income earned (including taxable capital gains), and any refundable (Part IV) taxes on dividends received (net of Part IV taxes tracked in the eligible RDTOH [ERDTOH] pool)
    A refund of the NRDTOH will only be available upon the payment of non-eligible dividends. In all provinces these dividends are taxed at a higher rate than eligible dividends.
  • an ERDTOH account will track refundable (Part IV) taxes paid on eligible dividends received from corporations that are not connected,1 as well as eligible dividends received from connected corporations to the extent that these dividends triggered a dividend refund to the payor corporation
    A refund of the ERDTOH account will only be available upon the payment of eligible dividends.
    The existing RDTOH balance will be added to the NRDTOH account except for the transitional amount.

2019 transitional RDTOH amount

A CCPC’s opening ERDTOH account will have a one-time addition equal to the lesser of:

  • its existing RDTOH balance
  • 38.33% of the CCPC’s GRIP balance
    As a result:
  • the corporation’s GRIP balance must be at least 2.6 times the existing RDTOH pool in order for the entire RDTOH balance to qualify as ERDTOH, and
  • if the company has an RDTOH balance, but has no GRIP balance, all of the RDTOH will be added to the NRDTOH account

How can your accountant help with the planning strategy?

These new rules will impact taxation years commencing in 2019. To prepare for the change, you should discuss with your adviser whether:

  • it is possible to move the GRIP and RDTOH balances into the same company to maximize the addition to the ERDTOH account (for example, if a company has RDTOH but no GRIP, determine if the GRIP in a lower-tiered company can be moved to the higher-tiered company)
  • there is a plan to distribute corporate funds to individual shareholders in the next few years because there may be an advantage to speeding up the distribution before 2019 to realize a lower effective tax rate
  • for companies with GRIP, but limited RDTOH, it may make sense to trigger investment gains to create an ERDTOH account that can be used for future distributions

The 2018 Federal Budget confirmed the Canadian government’s intent to address Canadian controlled private corporations (CCPC) that earned significant investment income by targeting the Refundable Dividend Tax On Hand (RDTOH) regime. RDTOH is created from passive income earned by a CCPC and as implied in the name, is refunded to the corporation upon payment of taxable dividends. Investment income subject to the RDTOH regime is typically not added to a CCPC’s General Rate Income Pool (GRIP) from which eligible dividends are paid.

Under the historical RDTOH rules, an eligible dividend paid by CCPC could allow for a refund of RDTOH. This provided an opportunity to pay eligible dividends and still recover RDTOH created from investment income, which did not accrete to the CCPC’s GRIP from which the eligible dividend was paid. The eligible dividend would then be taxed at approximately 39 per cent personally rather than the approximate 46 per cent rate for non-eligible dividends (highest personal dividend tax rates in Ontario). Therefore, the individual is subject to a lower personal tax rate in comparison to receiving a non-eligible dividend that would otherwise be paid from passive investment income earnings, and the corporation continues to enjoy a RDTOH refund.

Under the new rules introduced in the 2018 Federal Budget, the existing RDTOH account will be split into eligible RDTOH and non-eligible RDTOH pools. RDTOH created from passive income will accrete to a CCPC’s non-eligible RDTOH account. This will be the case with most passive income apart from eligible dividend receipts. Only non-eligible dividends will result in a refund of non-eligible RDTOH balances. Further, ordering rules will also provide that amounts cannot generally be refunded from a CCPC’s eligible RDTOH account until the non-eligible RDTOH balance has been fully refunded. The character of RDTOH paid on dividends received from a connected corporation would match their payer’s eligible/ non-eligible RDTOH accounts.

The above rules will apply to taxation years beginning on or after January 1, 2019 and transitional measures have been included to compute the opening eligible RDTOH and non-eligible RDTOH balances of a CCPC. The eligible RDTOH balance will be calculated as the lesser of:

  • The existing RDTOH balance at the time of the transition; and
  • 38 1/3 per cent of the GRIP balance, at the time of the transition

Once the above allocation has been calculated, any remaining RDTOH would be allocated to the non-eligible RDTOH pool. Budget 2018 alludes to the fact that existing RDTOH should not be negatively affected on transition and should be in the eligible RDTOH pool. However, the transition rules included in the legislation create a problem.

How does this change play out?

For example, let us assume that Mr. A owns 100 per cent of his holding company (“HoldCo”) and the HoldCo owns 100 per cent of an operating company (“OpCo”). Furthermore, let us assume that OpCo has a GRIP balance of $10,000,000 and RDTOH of NIL while HoldCo has a RDTOH balance of $2,000,000 and no GRIP.
On transition, HoldCo will have its eligible RDTOH balance calculated as the lesser of:

  • The existing RDTOH balance at the time of the transition ($2,000,000); and
  • 38 1/3 per cent of the GRIP balance, at the time of the transition ($NIL)
    Therefore, HoldCo’s entire RDTOH balance will be included in the non-eligible RDTOH pool and block any refund of RDTOH when GRIP dividends are paid from OpCo through HoldCo to the individual shareholder. As a result, there is no transitional relief on HoldCo’s RDTOHearned before the new legislation became law.

How to plan for transition

A simple planning decision, that can be undertaken prior to the new regime coming into effect, is to pay an eligible safe income dividend to cause the GRIP balance in HoldCo to equate to the RDTOH balance in HoldCo. To continue our previous example, OpCo would pay an eligible safe income dividend of at least $5,217,392 prior to the transition. On transition, the eligible RDTOH balance of HoldCo will now be calculated as the lesser of:

  • The existing RDTOH balance at the time of the transition ($2,000,000); and
  • 38 1/3 per cent of the GRIP balance, at the time of the transition ($2,000,000)

The resulting eligible RDTOH balance of HoldCo will now equal at least $2,000,000 with no amounts added to HoldCo’s non-eligible RDTOHpool. Accordingly, eligible dividends can continue to be paid from OpCo through HoldCo to the individual shareholder and still provide for a refund of HoldCo’s RDTOH balances.

Taxpayers should examine their corporate structures prior to the rules coming into force on January 1, 2019 to determine potential planning opportunities.

Corporate RDTOH Planning Opportunities

Currently, through the operation of the refundable dividend tax on hand (RDTOH) rules, a portion of the tax paid on passive income earned by a private corporation is refunded when the corporation pays dividends. The refund is available regardless of whether the dividends paid are eligible dividends (generally from active business income taxed at the general income tax rate) or non-eligible dividends (generally from passive investment income and active business income taxed at the small business tax rate).
As of January 1, 2019, changes to the RDTOH rules will limit the dividend refund to
(1) noneligible dividends paid by the corporation and
(2) Part IV tax on eligible portfolio dividends received by the corporation. What Planning Should You Consider Undertaking in 2018? If a corporation is planning to sell corporate assets in the near future or it has a holding corporation/operating corporation (Holdco/Opco) structure, there are two options that should be considered in 2018 to plan for the RDTOH rule changes.

  • Where possible, corporate asset sales planned within the next year or two should be completed before the end of 2018 in order to maximize the corporation’s RDTOH balance at 2018 year end. Due to a transitional rule, a corporation’s existing RDTOH balance at 2018 year end will be allocated to its eligible and non-eligible RDTOH balances for the 2019 taxation year.
  • Where a Holdco/Opco structure is in place and Opco has a balance in its general rate income pool (GRIP) and Holdco has RDTOH but low or no GRIP, consideration should be given to whether eligible dividends should be paid by the Opco to the Holdco in 2018 in order to maximize Holdco’s 2019 eligible RDTOH balance.

Non-Eligible Dividend Tax Credit Rates and Amount of Dividends That May be Received Without Incurring Tax in 2018a Current to: April 30, 2018

Actual Dividend Taxable Dividend Actual Dividend
Federal 11.64% 10.03% $30,733
British Columbia 2.40 2.07 22,334
Alberta 2.41 2.07 20,562
Saskatchewand 3.87 3.33 20,290
Manitoba 0.91 0.78 10,292
Ontarioe 3.62 3.12 30,733
Québecf—Amounts received before March 28, 2018 8.18 7.05 24,417
Amounts received after
March 27, 2018
7.28 6.28 22,261
New Brunswickg 3.31 2.85 18,650
Nova Scotia 3.67 3.16 16,699
Prince Edward Island 3.36 2.90 14,841
Newfoundland & Labrador 4.06 3.50 19,678
Northwest Territories 6.96 6.00 30,733
Nunavut 3.20 2.76 30,733
Yukon 2.62 2.26 15,747


*A table for 2019 will be added in Summer 2019.
This table assumes only “non-eligible dividend” income is earned and takes into account all federal and provincial taxes, surtaxes, and alternative minimum taxes, but does not include provincial premiums. The respective basic personal and dividend tax credits and provincial tax reductions, where applicable, are also included.“Non-eligible” dividends are those that are not subject to the dividend rules applying to “eligible” dividends (see table I-6). The gross-up rate for non-eligible dividends is 16%. The actual amount received is therefore multiplied by 1.16 to determine the taxable amount of the dividend.
A The federal and provincial dividend tax credit (DTC) rates in the table’s first column apply to the actual amount of the dividend received by an individual. The DTC rate can also be expressed as a percentage of the taxable dividend, as indicated in the table’s second column.
B The federal DTC rate that applies to non-eligible dividends decreased to 10.03% (from 10.52%) of taxable dividends beginning January 1, 2018. The dividend gross-up factor that applies to non-eligible dividends also decreased to 16% (from 17%) beginning January 1, 2018.
C Ontario decreased the province’s DTC rate that applies to non-eligibledividends to 3.12% (from 4.29%) of taxable dividends effective January 1, 2018.

Coming Next……..

The Federal Dividend Tax Credit in Canada…. Part C

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Top Traits of a Successful Small Business Accountant

When surveyed about key factors that led to their success, most small business owners singled out the selection of a good accountant as the most important asset. This resource was found to be a common factor for businesses that were acquired from a previous owner, inherited from a family member, or founded as a startup.

This survey of small business owners also uncovered fourteen important qualities (mentioned below), which were identified as the top traits shared by successful small business accountants:

1. An advisor and a business partner

These accountants provided much more than simple records of transactions and yearly tax filing services.

Successful small business accountants partnered with business owners in driving the strategy of the business, with well-constructed business plans and monthly face-to-face sessions supported by valuable data analysis.

2. Monthly financial statements

These accountants used sophisticated systems and processes to generate monthly financial statements for the following:

  • Profit & Loss
  • Balance Sheet
  • Cash Flow
  • Bank Reconciliation

They were also able to provide data in real-time through systems based on cloud computing and assisted by artificial intelligence.

3. Expert planners with a strategic mindset

These accountants had the business experience and the professional background to think Strategically. They also provided valuable advice on long-term business plans, structure for pricing, volume analysis, sales channels selection, fixed and variables costs analysis, and the precise calculation of taxes.

4. Advanced tax planning

One valuable by-product of monthly financial statements, meetings, and a strategic mindset is that the accountant and the business owners were able to discuss and execute tax strategies fairly in advance and generate substantial savings.

5. Cash flow-focused

Monitoring and projecting advanced cash flow is like monitoring the lifeblood of the business. Profits do not necessarily translate into much needed cash. A close monitoring of bank reconciliations on a monthly, if not a daily basis, is another key process that good accountants and businesses will follow.

6. Analytical mind

One of the most appreciated traits of a successful accountant — which leads to good advice and follow-up — is an analytical mind that is trained to generate and interpret pertinent information. This analytical mind provides the ability to spot any telling signs or trends that would otherwise escape the layman.

7. Professionally qualified & knowledgeable

It almost goes without saying, but a professionally qualified and trained accountant is a necessity, if you want to be successful. Professional qualifications show that the accountant knows how to maintain high professional standards and ethical conduct in all matters, in addition to possessing a deep understanding of numbers, rules, regulations, and laws.

8. Works with the latest technologies

Technology is developing at an astonishing rate, with cloud computing, artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies forming a substantial part of the accounting ecosystem.

Today’s accountant must be comfortable working with these technologies to help grow your revenue faster, track costs better, help choose the right inventory systems, and so on.

9. Access to other small business service providers

Small business owners need access to the same professionals that their larger counterparts use to run their business, (i.e bankers, foreign exchange traders, lawyers, and wealth managers). Great accountants will usually partner with these professionals, especially those catering to small businesses. Your accountant should be able to refer you to these types of service providers when you need them.

10. Cost management and investment monitoring

A good accountant understands the delicate balance that the small business owner must maintain between reducing waste and investing to boost future revenues. A good accounting partner will be able to help a small business owner measure the cost of those additional investments or the impact of reducing costs.

11. Succession planning capabilities

At a certain stage of the business lifecycle, small business owners will face the decision to either go public, name heirs to the business, or sell it. A professional accountant can help with the selection of professional valuation firms, the IPO process, or simply assist in transitioning the business legally and financially to the heirs.

12. Corporate structuring

As a business partner who has access to the market, and the inner workings of other successful businesses, the accountant is usually in a position to recommend changes to the business’s corporate structure that would further boost growth or stem any loss of revenue.

13. Debt planning

At a certain stage of growth, all businesses may require access to banking channels, debt markets, and other lenders to either enhance capital or borrow on short and long terms. This is especially true for start-up businesses. A great accountant has connections in the marketplace and will be able to access these funds or make recommendations to the business owner.

14. Acquisition as a growth strategy

In some instances, small businesses hit a plateau, in terms of growth, where organic business growth strategy is simply not an option. During their career, a successful accountant has usually worked on an acquisition and will understand what is required in terms of due diligence, purchase, bedding the acquisition, and so on. In an ideal situation, they will have handled the complete acquisition cycle and can work with a team of professionals to identify the right fit for their client.

Looking for an accountant who fits the above traits? Book a consultation with the team at Clearwater to see if we’d be a good fit for your business.

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