Written by: Suzanne Cody CPA, CGA, Senior Partner
A question often asked by people is whether they should own their investments personally or hold them in a corporation to delay paying income tax. Remember! There is no avoidance in paying the tax only careful planning to minimize the damage. The government strives to equalize the taxation of investment income across the board so that there is no preference between earning interest from within a corporation or earning it personally. This goal is known as integration. This equalization is not perfect. For 2016, an Ontario corporation would be taxed at a combined rate of 50.57%. While not an exact match, it is quite close to the highest personal combined marginal rate of 53.31%.
To achieve integration, there is a refundable tax imposed on Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPCs) that earn investment income. In order to prevent double taxation, some of this corporate tax is refunded when dividends are distributed to an individual. The idea behind this is to prevent your corporation from having more after-tax money available for reinvestment than you would have if you had received the interest income personally. The bottom line is that your corporation will be refunded $1 for every $3 paid out to shareholders as dividends.
You can think of the refundable amount as taxes that have been paid out in advance. When the dividends are paid out to you, you will be taxed personally on the income. Where an individual’s personal income does not fall into one of the higher tax brackets, there may even be a disadvantage to this strategy. What I hope to have highlighted here is that there really is no income tax benefit to earning investment income from within your corporation.