In the summer of 2017, the federal government proposed changes to the taxation of passive investment income of private corporations in Canada. Following angry feedback to the original proposals, the government introduced adjustments in their spring budget. The new measures they introduced will be applicable to company’s tax years beginning after 2018. In both sets of proposals, if a company earned over $50,000 of passive investment income, they would have been subject to new taxation rules. The first proposal would have resulted in an increase to the tax rate on investment income. In their revised proposal, rather than increasing the tax on investment income, the budget proposed to reduce the amount of small business deduction that would be available to a company that earned over $50,000 of passive investment income.

The small business deduction allows a private company to earn up to $500,000 at the lowest federal corporate tax rate. If a business earns passive investment income over the $50,000 threshold, their available small business deduction limit will be reduced. If this
income is greater than $150,000, the small business deduction will be eliminated.

One of the main concerns with the original proposal was that one time capital gains could push a company’s passive income over the threshold.

In response, the government has excluded capital gains on assets used in an active business by a company or a connected company; however, no adjustment has been made for gains on sales of passive investments.

Furthermore, capital losses from prior years are excluded, so taxpayers are unable to offset current gains with previous losses to reduce their income below this threshold.