Posts

Estate Planning for Business Owners

Writing an estate plan is important if you own personal assets but is all the more crucial if you also own your own business. This is due to the additional business complexities that need to be addressed, including tax issues, business succession and how to handle bigger and more complex estates. Seeking professional help from an accountant, lawyer or financial advisor is an effective way of dealing with such complexities. As a starting point, ask yourself these seven key questions and, if you answer “no” to any of them, it may highlight an area that you need to take remedial action towards. 

  • Have you made a contingency plan for what will happen to your business if you are incapacitated or die unexpectedly?
  • Have you and any co-owners of your business made a buy-sell agreement?
  • If so, is the buy-sell agreement funded by life insurance?
  • If you have decided that a family member will inherit your business when you die, have you provided other family members with assets of an equal value?
  • Have you appointed a successor to your business?
  • Are you making the most of the lifetime capital gains exemption ($835,714 in 2017) on your shares of the business, if you are a qualified small business?
  • Are you taking care to minimize any possible tax liability that may be payable by your estate in the event of your death?

Estate freezes 

The process of freezing the value of your business at a particular date is an increasingly common way of protecting your estate from a large capital gains tax bill if your business increases in value. To achieve this, usually the shares in the business that have the highest growth potential are redistributed to others, often your children, meaning that they will be liable for the tax on any increase in their value in the future. In exchange, you will receive new shares allowing you to maintain control of the business with a key difference – the value of the shares is frozen so that your tax liability is lower and that of your estate when you die will also be reduced. 

Easy Exit: Business Succession in a Nutshell

Getting into the world of business is a meticulous task, but so is getting out of it Whether you’ve just hit the ground running on your business or if you’ve been at it for a long time, there is no better time to plan your exit strategy than now. Although the process may seem taxing, we’ve answered a few questions you may have about planning your business succession strategy. 

1. Who do I talk to about this? 

Deciding on how to go about the transition requires careful planning, and you need to consult no less than people who are well equipped to help you out. First, talk to your key advisors such as bankers and financial partners. You could also use some advice from your accountant and lawyers. If your company has an advisory board, better consult them as well. You may also hire a specialist or a consultant, depending on how you choose to go about your business succession plan. 

2. Who should I choose as a successor? 

There are several ways to go about this, and your decision will ultimately be your personal choice. You may pass on your business to a family member or to your top executives or managers. You may also choose to sell it to an outsider. Whichever path you choose, you can also decide on how much you want to be involved in the business after you pass it on. That is, if you want to be involved at all. 

3. When should I inform my successor about my plans? 

While a surprise inheritance may be heartwarming, it’s not the same with inheriting a business. Getting a successor ready—whether it’s a family member or someone from your company—requires careful planning and training. As soon as you’ve chosen a successor, better get started on getting them ready for the big shoes they’re about to fill. This includes helping them equip themselves with the necessary skills, knowledge and qualifications necessary to run your business. 

4. How do I plan the transition itself? 

The transition will be twofold—transferring ownership and handing over the business itself. As far as transferring ownership is concerned, you need to consider legal and financial details. These include valuation, financing and taxation. You also need to consider if you wish to keep your current legal structure (corporation, sole prop, partnership, etc.) or if you (or your successor) would like to change it. You also need to plan how to prepare various stakeholders in the business for the transition. How will you prepare your customers, clients, and employees? What would be their level of involvement? Make sure that you put different strategies in place in order to ensure transparency and consistency in communicating changes in your business, especially something as drastic as succession. 

5. Now that I have a business succession plan ready, can I go back to business as usual? 

Not really. Your business and your customers’ needs may change over time. This means that you need to keep reviewing and adjusting your plan as your business also evolves. 

Paying for Medical Expenses

Although we enjoy health care benefits in Canada, there are still some benefits that are not covered by the government. There are a number of ways to pay for these benefits such as directly paying out of pocket, using a health insurance plan or private health services plan or a combination of these structures.

As always, please consult us prior to implementing any of these strategies.

The Importance of a Financial Plan

Working with us to create your financial plan helps you identify your long and short term life goals. When you have a plan, it’s easier to make decisions that align with your goals. We outline 8 key areas of financial planning:

  • Income: learn to manage your income effectively through planning
  • Cash Flow: monitoring your cash flow, will help you keep more of your cash
  • Understanding: understanding provides you an effective way to make financial decisions that align with your goals
  • Family Security: having proper coverage will provide peace of mind for your family
  • Investment: proper planning guides you in choosing the investments that fit your goals
  • Assets: learn the true value of your assets. (Assets – Liabilities)
  • Savings: life happens, it’s important to have access to an emergency fund
  • Review: reviewing on a regular basis is important to make sure your plan continues to meet your goal

Updated Small Business Tax Reforms

It has certainly been a busy week in terms of announcements regarding financial policies for small businesses. Following the series of proposed tax reforms that the government announced back in July, various tweaks and changes have subsequently been made, owing, perhaps in part, to confusion and frustration expressed among the small business community. This week Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, has made further clarifications and adjustments to his original set of proposals, aiming to bring more of a sense of balance to the plans. Like all policy changes, the detail can be a little overwhelming, so here is a summary of the key points for your reference: 

  • The government intends to honor a commitment made prior to the election, to reduce the small business tax rate from 10.5% to 9% by the year 2019. 
  • Morneau confirmed that the government has scrapped the proposal to limit access to the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption. 
  • The plans announced earlier in the year to reduce the value of passive investments made by corporations will continue in principle, but with few key changes. There will be a threshold of $50,000 of income per year, which will be excluded from the newly set higher rate of tax. 
  • The government has agreed to “simplify” the rules related to the new plans, to prevent income splitting for family members, who are not active in a business, but the plan will still move ahead in principle. 
  • Morneau has confirmed that the government will still provide good entrepreneurial incentives for venture capitalists and angel investors. The criteria for which still needs to be established. 
  • The proposed rules to limit the conversion of income to capital gains have been abandoned due to the concerns that many related to intergenerational transfers and insurance policies were held inside corporations. 

Of course, this is one area of government policy which is not only constantly changing, but particularly controversial in the current climate, so keep yourself updated regularly on new announcements and news, to ensure your understanding in this area and its potential impact on your family and business. If you have any questions, please talk to us. 

A Summary of Proposed Tax Changes in 2017

The month of July saw a set of proposed tax changes announced by the Federal Minister of Canada which are potentially the most impactful and significant amendments since the large-scale tax reform of 1972. We will go on to describe the detail and impact of the proposals, which fall into three main areas, below. In summary, however, the purpose of the changes introduced by the government is broadly to close the potential current perceived tax loopholes that exist for higher earners and owners of private corporations. In response to the proposals, the government is inviting views and opinions on the changes during a consultation period which will last until October 2 2017.

  1. Changes to Income Sprinkling

If a high earning individual moves a proportion of their income to a family member such as children or a spouse who hold a lower tax rate in an attempt to reduce the total amount of tax payable, this is known as income sprinkling. To mitigate this, the government is proposing to include adult children in the eligibility rules in addition to minors, as well as taking a “reasonability” approach to assessing their income and thus which rate the transferred income should be taxed at. This will mark a change to the current TOSI (tax on split income) rules which currently apply.

 2.  Minimizing the incentives of keeping passive investments in CCPCs

Currently, it can be advantageous for corporations to keep excess funds in a CCPC due to the fact that the corporate tax rate on the first $500,000 of taxable income is often much lower than the tax that would be payable by an individual. The government is moving to make this option less beneficial by the following two initiatives: firstly, by the removal of the option of crediting the capital dividend account (known as the CDA) equal to the amount of the non-taxable portion of any capital gains and secondly by removing the refundability of passive investment taxes.

 3.  Reducing the transfer of corporate surpluses to capital gains

Tax advantages can currently be achieved by the sharing out of corporate surpluses to shareholders through dividends or salaries, which are often taxed at a lower rate than if earned as personal income. This is due to the fact that just 50% of capital gains are taxable.

These are the first significant proposals since 1972, talk to us we can help. If these changes are of concern to you or your client, please send an email to Fin.consultation.fin@canada.ca or send an email to your local member of parliament.

Shared Ownership Critical Illness

Shared Ownership Critical Illness offers business owners and incorporated business professionals a way to access the retained earnings in their corporation or provide benefits to a key employee.

Talk to us to see how we can help you.

Read more

Capital Gains Exemption

Having a buy sell agreement is important business partners. A buy-sell agreement should outline the contingencies for different outcomes, trigger events and be put in place to protect you. Often Buy-sell arrangements are also insured.

Importance of a Buy Sell Plan

Having a buy sell agreement is important business partners. A buy-sell agreement should outline the contingencies for different outcomes, trigger events and be put in place to protect you. Often Buy-sell arrangements are also insured.