July 18, 2017 Department of Finance Draft Legislation on
Payments to Shareholders of Private Companies
Written By: Mark Hunter, CPA, CA
Tax Partner, Taylor Leibow LLP (an Independent Member of DFK Canada)
Overview of Proposed Changes
In 1999, responding to various family structures that split income amongst family members, the federal Department of Finance introduced a tax on split income (TOSI) that eliminated any tax benefit on income split with children under the age of 18. The TOSI mandated the top personal tax rate apply to dividends paid by private corporations, or income allocated via a partnership or trust, to family members who were under the age of 18.
The proposed legislation announced on July 18, 2017 by the Finance department will significantly increase the reach of the TOSI to include amounts paid to certain adult individuals who receive split income.
Specifically, the new legislation will:
TOSI applies to individuals who are “specified individuals”. Under the proposed legislation a specified individual is a Canadian resident, regardless of age, who receives split income derived from a business of a related individual who resides in Canada.
The proposed legislation would apply TOSI to any specified individual’s split income when the amount of income is deemed unreasonable according to certain legislated tests. Specifically, under the proposed changes, an amount would be unreasonable if it exceeds what an arm’s-length (non-related) person would have agreed to pay the specified individual considering the recipient’s:
The following is an example of the application of the proposed new TOSI rules provided by the Department of Finance in its summary document Tax Planning Using Private Corporations.
Morgan carries on a freight forwarding business through a corporation. Morgan owns all the voting shares of the corporation. Morgan’s 26 year old child, Jesse, is an accountant and, except as described below, does not participate in the freight forwarding business. Jesse owns dividend eligible shares of the corporation, which Jesse purchased for $1. Jesse’s shares do not participate in growth of the corporation. Both Morgan and Jesse are Canadian residents.
During the fiscal year, the corporation paid Jesse for accounting services he performed on behalf of the corporation. The amount paid by the corporation was equivalent to what the corporation would have paid an arm’s-length party to perform the services. The corporation also declared and paid a $100,000 dividend on the shares held by Jesse.
The dividend income received by Jesse will not meet the reasonableness test and will therefore be subject to the TOSI. Although Jesse is involved in the activities of the business, Jesse’s contributions were limited to providing accounting services. Jesse purchased the shares for $1, and, therefore, did not contribute assets or assume risks in respect of the business in any material way. Finally, although Jesse provided accounting services to the business, the business already paid Jesse for the fair market value of these services.
If, on the other hand, Jesse had contributed significant assets to the corporation, for example by purchasing shares from the corporation for a cash payment of $100,000, then Jesse would be permitted under the reasonableness test to a reasonable return on this investment without the return being subject to the TOSI. Further, if Jesse had been 24 instead of 26, the reasonableness of Jesse’s dividend would be determined using a higher standard of labour contribution and imposing a prescribed maximum return on the $100,000 contributed to the corporation.
The department of finance’s proposed expansion of the TOSI to adult recipients, as well as the requirement to determine what is reasonable will greatly increase the administrative burden. The burden to whom? It’s unclear. Will it be the burden of the payor or the recipient? Regardless, it will be a burden none-the-less.
The proposed addition of the connected individual test applies in respect of income from a corporation. The “connected individual” definition provides a link for the purposes of the TOSI rules between the specified individual who receives an amount, the corporation from which the amount is derived and the connected individual who is related to the specified individual and has a presumed degree of influence over the circumstances in which the amount is paid.
A ‘connected individual’ in respect of a corporation would mean an individual (other than a trust) who is resident in Canada where any of the following conditions are met:
Adult family members of connected individuals who receive dividends will be required to determine what amount, if any, is unreasonable.
In the above example, Jesse is the “specified individual”, and Morgan would be the “connected individual”.
Expand What Income The TOSI Will Apply To
The various types of income that the TOSI would apply to is expanded to include:
Potential Impact if Changes Become Law
If these measures are implemented, the ability of a business owner to split income with family members in a tax efficient manner through a corporation, partnership or family trust will be severely restricted. If, at any time, the business owner wishes to distribute income to a shareholder, partner or beneficiary they will need to assess the reasonableness of amount being paid and whether the recipient will risk paying tax on the income at the highest personal tax rate or not.
Practically speaking, the draft legislation is short on direction on what is reasonable. How will the individual determine the value of work done for a business, what are reasonable rates of returns, or who can receive distributions that are not split income when a business is run with little shareholder involvement?
What Should You Do Now?
What Are We Doing?
As part of DFK Canada, we are pro-actively seeking changes to these proposals by discussing their impact with our clients and contacting local MP’s to advise them of the far reaching impact these rule changes will have on all clients. Those most impacted by the proposals are being portrayed as the wealthiest of Canadians. We know otherwise. We will continue to keep our clients up to date as we learn more about the proposed changes.
The information provided in this article is intended for general purposes only. Care has been taken to ensure the information herein is accurate; however, no representation is made as to the accuracy thereof. The information should not be relied upon to replace specific professional advice.