The Impact of Recent Tax Reforms on Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs in Canada

The recent tax reforms enacted by the Canadian government have ushered in a wave of changes that are having a significant impact on small enterprises and entrepreneurial initiatives across the country. These measures, which aim to solve different economic concerns and improve tax fairness, are transforming the scene for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. This in-depth examination delves into the essential components of these tax reforms and how they are altering the climate for Canada's small business community.

Overview of Recent Tax Reforms

The Canadian government implemented a number of significant tax adjustments in 2023. These measures were intended to address a variety of issues, including housing affordability, small business support, and environmental concerns. To fully comprehend their implications, taxpayers and their advisors must be well-versed in these changes.

1. Expansion of theSmall Business Deduction (SBD): The extension of the Small Business Deduction (SBD) is one of the key reforms. The threshold for taxable capital employed in Canada at which the SBD is phased out rose from CA$15 million to CA$50 million under Bill C-32, which gained Royal Assent on December 15, 2022, for taxation years beginning on or after April 7, 2022. This means that Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPCs) and affiliated corporations with less than CA$50 million in aggregate taxable capital employed in Canada are now eligible for the SBD.

2. New Anti-Flipping laws for Residential Property: Beginning January 1, 2023, new anti-flipping laws apply to residential property dispositions held for less than a year. These rules were enacted in response to concerns about speculative real estate development.

3. 1% Tax on Non-Resident, Non-Canadian-Owned unoccupied or Underutilized Residential Real Estate: An yearly 1% tax on the value of non-resident, non-Canadian-owned unoccupied or underutilized residential real estate in Canada intends to address housing affordability challenges.

4. Provincial Tax Reforms: Several provinces have also implemented tax reforms. Newfoundland and Labrador implemented a new 10% manufacturing and processing investment tax credit, whereas Ontario extended the temporary boost to 20% in the regional opportunities investment tax credit through the end of 2023.

5. Increase in the Basic Personal Amount (BPA): The BPA, which indicates the amount of income that individuals can earn without paying federal income tax, increased from $14,398 in the 2022 taxation year to $15,000 in the 2023 taxation year. This adjustment assists Canadians in keeping up with inflation and may result in a reduced tax rate on a greater portion of their income.

6. Doubling of the First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit (HBTC): To make homeownership more accessible to Canadians, the HBTC, a federal government initiative, was doubled to provide further assistance to first-time homebuyers.

7. Excessive Interest and Financing Expenses Limitation (EIFEL) Rules Revised: The administration changed proposed laws regarding EIFEL, which intends to curb multinational corporations' tax planning tactics. Taxpayers who attempt to shorten a taxation year in the three fiscal years preceding October 1, 2023, shall face an anti-avoidance regulation and a fixed ratio of 30%.

8. GST Rental Rebate Legislation: The Department of Finance Canada introduced Bill C-56, the Affordable Housing and Groceries Act, on September 21, 2023. This bill includes a GST rental credit for new rental housing projects, which would help fund affordable housing initiatives.

Changes in Corporate Tax Rates

The changes to corporate tax rates have dominated talks about the ramifications for small enterprises. These reforms have the potential to either alleviate or worsen the tax obligations that small businesses confront. Small firms frequently face financial and administrative issues as a result of taxation, which has a direct impact on their ability to invest in growth, workers, and competitiveness.

Tax Responsibility: Small firms are already responsible for significant taxes, including federal company income taxes, payroll taxes, state and local income taxes. An increase in corporate tax rates could exacerbate these difficulties.

Investment Incentives: According to research, cutting corporate tax rates encourages enterprises to boost their investments, resulting in increased economic growth. Raising corporation tax rates, on the other hand, may discourage investment, limiting small businesses' capacity to develop and compete effectively.

Long-Term consequences: While the short-term consequences of corporation tax cuts may appear minimal, the long-term implications can be significant, resulting in increased productivity and income for workers.

The Small Business Deduction: (IRS Section 199A) is a significant tax adjustment that benefits approximately 75% of NFIB members that are organized as pass-through organizations. Limiting or removing this benefit could limit the ability of small firms to develop and generate jobs.

Tax Relief poll: According to an NFIB poll, the majority of small business owners (78%) agreed that the 2017 tax relief had a favourable influence on the economy, demonstrating that small businesses appreciate tax policies that promote growth.

Tax Equity: President Biden's Build Back Better Agenda aims to create tax equity for small businesses while protecting them from tax increases. For example, his proposal to partially return the corporate tax rate to pre-2018 levels would have no effect on small firms that file taxes as pass-through corporations, which encompasses practically every small business in America.

Income Splitting Rules

Income splitting, a typical tax-cutting tactic used by small business owners, has experienced changes that directly affect small business owners and entrepreneurs, particularly those that involve family members in their firms.

According to the new income splitting laws implemented in 2018, family members face a tax on divided income unless they actively contribute to the firm and meet certain conditions. As a result, income splitting may no longer be as beneficial for small business owners, as they may face higher taxes on income paid to family members who are not actively participating in the business.

It is critical to distinguish these changes in income splitting laws from changes in corporation tax rates. The new passive income rules, which are connected to the small company rate, have no direct impact on income splitting.

Limitations on Small Business Deductions

The limitations imposed on small business deductions in Canada can have a substantial impact on small businesses' financial planning and day-to-day operations. Consider the following points:

SBD Basics: The SBD is a tax credit provided to Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs) that allows for a lower tax rate on active company profits of up to $500,000 per year. A corporation can save up to $30,000 in federal taxes each year as a result of this. The SBD is subtracted from the corporation's taxable income, which is referred to as the business limit.

Business Limit and Associated Corporations: For income tax purposes, the $500,000 business limit can be claimed by a single corporation or split among several CCPCs associated. The CCPC's income from an active business conducted in Canada, taxable income for the year, and the business limit for the year are used to calculate the business limit.

Taxable Capital and SBD Reduction: The SBD is reduced when the connected group's taxable capital employed in Canada exceeds $10 million. Previously, when taxable capital reached $15 million, the SBD was completely eliminated. If the combined adjusted aggregate investment income of the CCPC and any other connected entity is between $50,000 and $150,000, the decrease is now applied on a straight-line basis.

Provincial and Territorial Variations: All provinces and territories provide preferential tax rates on profits that qualify for the federal SBD or are decided in a similar manner. However, certain provinces may have their own SBD income limits.

Understanding these constraints and their ramifications is critical for Canadian small business owners and entrepreneurs. Proper tax preparation and advice with financial advisors can assist in navigating these rules and maximizing the SBD's benefits.

The Impact on Passive Investment Income

Recent tax amendments in Canada have considerably changed the taxation of passive investment income for small enterprises. These modifications have significant ramifications for entrepreneurs wishing to invest excess resources. Consider the following points:

Passive income is income derived from sources other than job or contracting, such as savings interest, credit card cash back or incentives, rental income, or dividend-paying securities.

Corporate investment income is taxed as passive income at set rates that differ by province and territory. In many jurisdictions, the company tax rate on investment income is usually greater than the maximum personal marginal tax rate, and often surpass 50%. Unless the beneficiary is actively participating in the firm and meets specific criteria, passive income is subject to a tax on divided income.

Limitations on the Small Business Deduction (SBD): Passive income might reduce the amount of the SBD that a corporation can use to its revenues. For example, if a corporation earns $80,000 in passive income, only $350,000 is taxed at the small business rate, while the rest is taxed at the general corporate rate. Passive income in excess of $50,000 reduces the amount of SBD that a firm can apply to its revenues.

Impact on Financial strategy and Operations: Small business deduction limitations and the taxation of passive income can have an impact on a company's tax obligation and overall financial strategy. To maximize the benefits of the SBD while minimizing tax liability, small businesses may need to properly manage their passive income. Entrepreneurs who want to invest their excess money should think about the tax consequences of passive income and engage with financial advisors to establish a complete plan tailored to their unique requirements and goals.

Understanding these changes and their ramifications is critical for Canadian small business owners and entrepreneurs. Proper tax planning and financial advisors can help manage these rules and maximize the benefits of the SBD while minimize tax liability.

Tax Planning Strategies

To efficiently manage the dynamic tax landscape, small business owners and entrepreneurs in Canada have many tax planning techniques at their disposal. These measures can help to reduce tax liabilities while also promoting corporate growth. Here are some practical takeaways:

1. Gather Receipts for Business Activities: Maintaining thorough records of all business-related expenses and collecting receipts are critical steps in accurately claiming deductions and credits.

2. Income Splitting: To split income and lower overall tax responsibilities, consider offering a salary to family members who are actively participating in the firm.

3. Optimize the Timing of Significant Capital Asset Purchases: To optimize tax benefits, acquire capital assets strategically and use the half-year rule for calculating depreciation.

4. Compensation Split - Dividends vs. Salary: Consider the tax implications of dividends against salary and structure compensation to reduce overall tax loads.

5. Home Office Expenses: Use the business-use-of-home deduction to deduct home office-related expenses.

6. Incorporate Your Company: Consider forming your company to qualify for the lower small business tax rate on active income and effectively delay taxes.

7. Use Financial Planning to Reduce Taxes: Consider options such as forming a holding company for tax-deferred investing and investing in tax-saving accounts such as RRSPs and TFSAs.

8. Modify Your Investment Portfolio: Carefully analyze your investment portfolio in order to maximize tax savings and reduce tax liabilities.

9. Establish an Individual Pension Plan (IPP): Investigate the advantages of creating an IPP in order to optimize tax savings and retirement benefits.

Tax preparation that is targeted to your individual business conditions can assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in making informed decisions and maximizing their financial achievements.

Challenges and Concerns

While recent tax reforms in Canada aim to benefit small business owners and entrepreneurs by simplifying the tax system and lowering the tax burden, they also raise various issues and concerns. These points merit careful consideration:

Tax System Complexity and Inefficiency: The current Canadian tax system is frequently criticized for its complexity and inefficiency. It includes a plethora of credits, incentives, and limited repairs, making it difficult for small business owners to navigate.

Compliance and Administrative Burdens: Small business owners may face additional compliance and administrative burdens as a result of implementing the new tax laws. This can be especially difficult for businesses with limited tax resources and knowledge.

Potential unexpected implications: The tax reforms may have unexpected implications, such as the introduction of barriers that impede the growth and expansion of small enterprises. Policies should carefully evaluate these potential implications and implement mitigation measures.

Inadequate Comprehensive Tax System Review: Canada's last comprehensive tax system review occurred in 1967. Many other nations have implemented extensive tax reforms, and Canada must guarantee that it remains in sync with global shifts and prepared for the future.

Small company owners and entrepreneurs are lobbying for a simpler and clearer tax regime that allows them to focus on business growth and job creation. This involves establishing clear parameters for family members who work in the business to avoid being unfairly targeted by new tax legislation.

Government Support Programs

In the midst of these hurdles, Canadian small business owners and entrepreneurs can take advantage of a variety of government assistance programs designed to help them navigate the complex tax landscape and promote business growth. Grants, funding options, tax credits, and other types of assistance are available through these programs. Some of the most important government assistance programs offered in Canada are as follows:

1. Business Grants and Financing: To help business development, the Government of Canada offers grants, donations, and financial assistance. Loans, capital investments, government loans, loan guarantees, venture capital, and other debt and equity options are available.

2. Tax Credits: Small firms can take advantage of tax breaks aimed at lowering their operating expenses and encouraging innovation.

3. Pay Subsidies: Various pay subsidy schemes assist firms in hiring competent personnel at a lower cost, assisting in the management of labour expenses.

4. Global Innovation Clusters Funding: Financial assistance is provided to business-led innovation clusters to encourage collaboration and innovation.

5. Agricultural Clean Technology (ACT) Program: This program provides grants and money to encourage the development and use of clean technology in agriculture.

6. Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP): The CDAP gives grants and support to businesses in order to help them embrace digital technology and improve their online presence.

7. CanExport Program: A nationwide grant program that provides up to $50,000 in reimbursement for up to 50% of qualified expenses incurred by firms wishing to advertise their products and services worldwide.

8. The National Research Council of Canada's (NRC) Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP): This program gives grants of up to $500,000 to small enterprises to fund research and development projects.

9. Provincial Funding Programs: Each province in Canada has its own funding programs to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Grants, loans, and tax credits customized to the province's economic priorities and industries may be included in these programs.


Finally, recent Canadian tax laws have resulted in major changes in the tax situation for small enterprises and entrepreneurs. Limits on small business deductions, modifications to passive investment income, and various tax planning tactics are among the reforms. While there are problems and concerns, such as the complexity of the tax system and compliance burdens, government aid programs help to manage these obstacles.

Written By:
Salman Rundhawa
Salman Rundhawa is the founder of Filing Taxes. Salman provides valuable tax planning, accounting, and income tax preparation services in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, and Hamilton.

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