On November 21, 2023, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, presented the 2023 Fall Economic Update.
This update proposes new measures aimed at making changes to the Underused Housing Tax, supporting employee ownership trusts, providing amendments to concessional loans and expanding eligibility for the Clean Technology and Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credits.
Here are the highlights of the 2023 fall economic update.
An Employee Ownership Trust owns shares in a business on behalf of its employees, enabling greater worker participation in business decisions and profits. Budget 2023 introduced tax rules to facilitate the creation of Employee Ownership Trusts.
The Economic Statement proposes to exempt the first $10 million in capital gains realized on the sale of a business to an Employee Ownership Trust from taxation, subject to certain conditions.
This incentive would be in effect for the 2024, 2025, and 2026 tax years. Further details will be provided in the coming months.
The Economic Statement proposes to amend the Income Tax Act (ITA) to provide legislative authority for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to share taxpayer information with an official of Public Services and Procurement Canada solely for the purposes of the administration or enforcement of the Canadian Dental Care Plan.
These amendments would come into force upon royal assent.
Under the ITA, if a taxpayer receives government assistance in the course of earning income from a business or property, the amount of that assistance may reduce the amount of a related expense or the cost or capital cost of a related property or may be included in the taxpayer’s income. The amount of assistance may also reduce the amount of an expenditure on which an associated investment tax credit is based.
Historically, non-forgivable loans from public authorities were generally not considered government assistance. This position extended to concessional loans (meaning loans that do not bear interest or that bear interest at below-market rates) from public authorities. However, in a 2021 decision, the Tax Court of Canada determined that the full principal amount of a concessional loan was government assistance. This decision was affirmed by the Federal Court of Appeal in 2022.
The Economic Statement proposes to amend the ITA to provide that bona fide concessional loans with reasonable repayment terms from public authorities will generally not be considered government assistance.
This amendment would come into force on November 21, 2023.
The ITA permits corporations to claim a deduction in respect of dividends received on shares of other corporations resident in Canada. Budget 2023 proposed to deny the dividend received deduction in respect of dividends received by financial institutions on shares that are mark-to-market property.
The Economic Statement proposes an exception to this measure for dividends received on “taxable preferred shares” (as defined in the ITA). This exception, along with the rest of the measure, would apply to dividends received on or after January 1, 2024.
Budget 2023 proposed to introduce the Clean Hydrogen Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and announced the credit’s main design elements in respect of eligible projects, credit rates, measuring carbon intensity, eligible equipment, verification, and compliance.
Budget 2023 also indicated that additional details on the design elements of the Clean Hydrogen ITC would be announced at a later date. The Economic Statement proposes the details in respect of these design elements:
The Economic Statement proposes to expand eligibility for:
The labour requirements to pay prevailing wages and provide apprenticeship training opportunities will apply to the expanded investment tax credits.
The Economic Statement proposes to increase the cap on labour expenditures per eligible newsroom employee from $55,000 to $85,000. It is further proposed that the Canadian journalism labour tax credit rate be temporarily increased from 25 per cent to 35 per cent for a period of four years.
These changes would apply to qualifying labour expenditures incurred on or after January 1, 2023. The credit rate would return to 25 per cent for expenditures incurred on or after January 1, 2027.
The Economic Statement announces that co-operative housing corporations that provide long-term rental accommodation would also be eligible for the removal of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on new rental housing, provided the other conditions have been met. The measure is not intended to apply to co-operative housing corporations where occupants have an ownership or equity interest.
To protect Canadian renters from renovictions, the removal of GST will not apply to substantial renovations of existing residential complexes.
The Economic Statement proposes that psychotherapists and counselling therapists be added to the list of health care practitioners whose professional services rendered to individuals are exempt from the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST).
This measure would apply on royal assent of the enacting legislation.
The government is seeking stakeholders’ views and comments on the below proposed new (GST/HST) joint venture election rules.
The federal government invites Canadians to share their feedback on these proposals by
March 15, 2024.
Under the GST/HST, a joint venture is not a person and therefore cannot register and account for tax. Instead, under the general GST/HST rules, each participant would account separately for their proportionate share of tax that is collectible, payable or recoverable in the course of their joint venture activities.
To simplify tax accounting, a joint venture participant that is a registrant (the operator) can make an election (a joint venture election) with another participant (the co-venturer) if the activities under their joint venture agreement are eligible activities set out in subsection 273(1) or prescribed activities in the Joint Venture (GST/HST) Regulations. The election, or a revocation of the election, must be made in prescribed form, contain prescribed information and specify the effective date.
To allow more participants in commercial joint ventures access to the simplification benefits of the joint venture election, new joint venture election rules are proposed. Key elements of these proposed new rules include:
Under the proposed new rules, a qualifying operator and a qualifying participant in a qualifying joint venture could jointly make or revoke a joint venture election. Only one person could make the election as the qualifying operator in respect of a qualifying joint venture at any given time.
As part of the consultations, the government is seeking views and comments on coming into force considerations for the proposed new joint venture election rules, which are currently proposed to come into force on the day on which the Act enacting the new rules receives royal assent.
The government is now proposing to make several changes to the Underused Housing Tax (UHT) to help facilitate compliance, while ensuring that the tax continues to apply as intended.
Following a consultation period, the government intends to bring forward legislation for consideration by Parliament. The federal government invites Canadians to share their feedback on these proposals by January 3, 2024.
Currently, every person that, as of December 31 of a calendar year, is an “owner” of residential property in Canada, other than an “excluded owner”, is required to file a UHT return for the calendar year in respect of the property.
With limited exceptions, if an owner of a residential property is a corporation or is the owner of the residential property on behalf of a partnership or as a trustee of a trust, the owner must file an annual UHT return in respect of the property. If the entity is substantially or entirely Canadian, however, they may be eligible to claim an exemption from the UHT in their UHT return. Specifically, exemptions may be claimed by:
To reduce the UHT compliance burden in relation to these Canadian entities, the government is proposing to make “specified Canadian corporations”, partners of “specified Canadian partnerships” and trustees of “specified Canadian trusts”, “excluded owners” for UHT purposes. As excluded owners, these owners would no longer have UHT reporting obligations.
The government is also proposing to expand the definitions “excluded owner”, “specified Canadian partnership” and “specified Canadian trust” to provide UHT filing and tax relief in respect of a broader range of Canadian ownership structures.
These changes would apply in respect of 2023 and subsequent calendar years.
Currently, the minimum penalty for an individual, who is required to file a UHT return for a residential property but who fails to do so by the filing deadline, is $5,000 per failure. The minimum penalty for a corporation that fails to file by the filing deadline is $10,000 per failure.
The government is proposing to reduce these minimum penalties to $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for corporations, per failure.
These changes would apply in respect of 2022 and subsequent calendar years.
The government is proposing to introduce a new UHT exemption for residential properties held as a place of residence or lodging for employees. This exemption would be available in respect of residential properties located anywhere in Canada other than in a population centre within either a census metropolitan area or a census agglomeration having 30,000 or more residents.
This exemption would apply in respect of 2023 and subsequent calendar years.
The government is also proposing to introduce other UHT changes of a more technical nature.
For example, these changes would:
The deadline for filing the inaugural UHT returns (for the 2022 calendar year) was April 30, 2023. However, on March 27, 2023, the CRA announced that it would waive penalties and interest provided UHT returns are filed or the UHT is paid by October 31, 2023.
On October 31, 2023, the Minister of National Revenue announced that this transitional filing relief would be extended by six more months, giving owners until April 30, 2024, to file their 2022 UHT returns.
UHT returns for the 2023 calendar year will also need to be filed by the normal deadline of
April 30, 2024, to avoid penalties and interest.
To ensure consistency with international tax norms, as well as greater consistency between the international shipping provisions of the ITA and the proposed new Global Minimum Tax Act (15 per cent), it is proposed to make the exemption for international shipping income in the ITAgenerally available to Canadian resident companies. This would allow shipping companies with management in Canada to continue their operations in line with both the Pillar Two international shipping exclusion and the exemption in the ITA. This measure would also effectively remove the incentive that the current tax rules create for shipping companies with management in Canada to incorporate and carry on certain international shipping activities in foreign jurisdictions.
This measure would apply to taxation years that begin on or after December 31, 2023.
The Economic Statement announces that the federal government intends to deny income tax deductions for expenses incurred to earn short-term rental income, including interest expenses, in provinces and municipalities that have prohibited short-term rentals.
The Economic Statement also announces that the federal government intends to deny income tax deductions when short-term rental operators are not compliant with the applicable provincial or municipal licensing, permitting, or registration requirements.
These measures would apply to deny all expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2024.
The Economic Statement confirms the government’s intention to proceed with the following previously announced tax and related measures, as modified to take into account consultations and deliberations since their release.
 Part IX of the Excise Tax ActNews