Minister of Finance Bill Morneau announced a series of revisions to the federal government’s proposed corporate tax changes as well as a reduction to the small business tax rate. This announcement is a significant win for the business community and is a result of the hard work of business owners and chambers from across the country. The fight for tax fairness and our #protectgrowth campaign is not over yet, but keep reading to see what has been accomplished so far.
Small business tax rate reduction:
The small business tax rate will be reduced from 10.5% to 9% by 2019. This was originally part of the Liberal campaign platform, but was postponed indefinitely in Budget 2016. We are pleased to see this planned reduction restored.
Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE):
The government had planned to limit access to the LCGE as one of their three major changes to corporate taxation. This would have hurt family businesses by punishing intergenerational transfers. The government has cancelled this proposal and now says there will be no changes to the LCGE. The government has also indicated that it will ensure that the proposed tax reforms do not impede the intergenerational transfer of businesses. They have not yet provided any detail on this yet, but we will be monitoring the issue closely.
The government proposed onerous restrictions on how much family members could be paid. They said anything beyond a “reasonable” salary would be taxed at a much higher rate. The government has softened its approach, indicating that the tax reforms will only impact family members that make no “meaningful contribution” to a business. The government has also said it will simplify restrictions on income splitting. By excluding family members that make “meaningful contributions” to a business from this proposal, the government has taken a step in the right direction, but it is still not clear what exactly a “meaningful contribution” is. We are concerned that government still does not recognize the diverse contributions that family members make to a business.
The government is still moving forward on rules to discourage passive investment income, but they are setting a threshold that will allow $50,000 in income per year to be exempted. That means that $1 million held inside a corporation could earn 5% ($50,000) without being subjected to the new rules. We are still calling for government to completely cancel its proposed restrictions on passive investment income, but this ‘threshold’ is an improvement from the original proposal.
Although the federal government has taken some steps toward tax fairness through its reduction of the small business tax rate and revising its corporate tax proposals, there is more work to be done. The details of the government’s new proposals are still to be seen and the government has not yet conducted fulsome consultations or a comprehensive review of the tax code. That’s why we are calling for a Royal Commission to conduct a full and independent review of the tax system.
We urge you to continue to make your voice heard and contact your MP. Tell them that these revisions are a step in the right direction, but that Canada needs a Royal Commission. Make sure they hear your concerns so that Burlington can remain a fair place to do business. You can reach MP John Oliver here and MP Pam Damoff here.