Changes to Capital Gains Tax Hit Canadians Today (June 25th, 2024)

Changes to Capital Gains Tax Hit Canadians Today (June 25th, 2024)
June 25, 2024

As of today, June 25, 2024, Canadians selling assets like investments or secondary properties will face a new reality – a revised capital gains tax regime. The changes, introduced by the Liberal government and hotly debated for months, aim to raise revenue for social programs and address perceptions of an unequal tax system. Let's break down the key elements of this financial shift.

Higher Taxes for High Gains

The most significant change concerns the capital gains inclusion rate. Previously, only half (50%) of capital gains exceeding a certain threshold were added to taxable income.  Now, for individuals with annual capital gains exceeding $250,000, the portion included in taxable income jumps to 66.7%. This means a higher tax bill for those making significant profits from asset sales. However, it's important to note that individuals with capital gains under $250,000 are not affected.

A Lifeline for Entrepreneurs

Recognizing the importance of small businesses to the Canadian economy, the government has increased the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE). This exemption shields a portion of capital gains from taxation upon the sale of qualified property. The LCGE has been boosted from $1 million to $1.25 million, offering some relief to entrepreneurs selling small business shares, farm assets, or fishing operations.

The Canadian Entrepreneurs' Incentive

The government has introduced a new program called the Canadian Entrepreneurs' Incentive (CEI). This program offers a reduced capital gains inclusion rate of 33.3% on a lifetime maximum of $2 million in eligible capital gains from qualifying small business sales. However, there's a catch – the CEI has a ten-year phase-in period, meaning the full benefit won't be available until 2034. Additionally, the CEI excludes specific sectors, such as finance, real estate, and professional corporations. This has drawn criticism from some businesses who feel it doesn't go far enough.

Government's Rationale

The Liberal government believe that these changes are necessary to create a fairer tax system. They argue that wealthier Canadians with significant capital gains should contribute more to social programs that benefit all citizens. Additionally, the government expects the new rules to generate an estimated $19.4 billion over five years, which will be used to fund initiatives in housing and support for young Canadians.

Business Concerns

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and other business groups have expressed concern that the increased inclusion rate will discourage investment and entrepreneurial activity. They argue that higher taxes will make it less attractive for individuals to invest in new businesses or take risks with their capital. Additionally, the limitations of the CEI program, particularly its exclusion of certain sectors, are seen as a missed opportunity to support a broader range of small businesses.

The Road Ahead

The true impact of these changes on the Canadian economy and entrepreneurial spirit remains to be seen. CFIB is lobbying for adjustments, including scrapping the general inclusion rate increase and expanding the CEI program. The coming months and years will reveal how these new capital gains rules shape Canada's financial landscape. Whether they achieve the government's goal of a more equitable tax system while fostering economic growth will be a story that unfolds in the years to come.

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