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The Northwood Perspective

Navigating the Potential Impact of Tax Changes on Your Finances

Brad Jesson

Proposed AMT Changes and Their Impact on Donations

AMT or Alternative Minimum Tax in Canada is designed to ensure taxpayers pay a minimum amount of tax. It’s a separate tax calculation run alongside your standard tax calculation. If your standard tax calculation falls below the AMT amount, you will end up paying the AMT amount (i.e. the minimum amount).  

For context many Canadians donate publicly traded shares to charities as the gain realized on donating shares is not triggered and a tax credit for the full value of the shares is received – you are much better off tax wise donating shares in a gain position vs. selling the shares, paying tax on the gain, and donating what is leftover.

The 2023 Federal budget has proposed a few different changes, but the most notable relates to charitable giving. For AMT purposes, only 50% of the tax credit received from a donation would be included (down from 100%). Further, the new proposals will now include 30% of the gain from donations of shares in income for AMT purposes (up from nil).

The proposed changes could have a significant impact on the tax savings associated with donating shares. Given these proposed adjustments, it's advisable to reevaluate your charitable giving strategy. Assess whether the proposed AMT changes necessitate adjustments in your approach to charitable contributions. Keeping abreast of these developments will help you make informed decisions about your philanthropic endeavors.

Understanding the Implications of the Proposed Share Buyback Tax in Canada

Historically, in Canada, a share buyback has not triggered any tax implications. However, the 2023 Federal budget has introduced a proposal to impose a 2% tax on share buybacks starting in 2024. This development follows in the footsteps of the U.S, which implemented a 1% share buyback tax in 2022. Notably, this U.S. tax hasn't had a substantial impact on corporate behavior thus far, as evidenced in this Wall Street Journal article.

In the realm of managing profits or excess cash, companies have several avenues to explore. These include (1) retaining profits within the company for future growth or strategic investments, (2) reducing outstanding debt, (3) issuing dividends to shareholders, or (4) repurchasing their own shares from investors. When considering the option of a share buyback, management often believes that the company's shares are undervalued and can be acquired at a discount.

The primary goal of this policy change is to encourage companies to retain their profits within the organization, thereby facilitating growth and strategic spending that can contribute to economic development. Companies, however, retain the option to pursue alternatives such as reducing debt or issuing dividends, which may not have a direct impact on economic expansion.

The impact of this proposed tax in Canada remains to be seen. Will it follow a similar trajectory as in the U.S, where it becomes an additional cost for companies but doesn't significantly alter their behavior? Only time will reveal the true extent of its influence on Canadian corporations.


Brad Jesson

Brad is a member of Northwood’s family office advisory group, working with families in the areas of goals based financial planning, investment management, tax planning, and next-generation education. In addition to his work with families, Brad is actively involved with Northwood next generation education and regularly contributes to Northwood's Thought Leadership Newsletter.

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