Life insurance is used for two general purposes in a private corporation – managing risk and creating opportunities. The risk management function is satisfied as life insurance provides the corporation with a tax-free payment in the event of the death of an owner or someone vital to the success of the business. As life insurance also allows for the tax-sheltered build up of cash value additional planning opportunities are additionally created.
The primary needs for corporate owned life insurance to satisfy the risk management purpose are as follows:
Key Person Life Insurance
Any prudent business would insure its company facilities and equipment that is used in creating revenue. It follows then that the business should also insure the lives of the people that run the company and make the decisions which contribute to its profit. Any owner, manager or employee whose death would impair the future growth and success of the company is a key person and should be insured as such. Read more
Many business owners understand the important role that life insurance plays in effective corporate planning. Whether it is the funding of a shareholders’ agreement, life insuring corporate debt, or protecting against loss from the death of a key employee, life insurance is of great value in underpinning the financial success of a corporation.
Just as life insurance needs for families change over time the same is also true for requirements of a business. If it has been some time since you last reviewed your corporate needs then it is probably time for a corporate insurance audit. This is especially true if the company has grown in value since the time the insurance was first implemented. The scope of the audit and the insurance related issues include the following: Read more
If you are the owner of a private corporation you should be concerned about the commentary that is coming from the Department of Finance. In the Federal Budget of March 2017, Finance expressed their concern that private corporations were being used by high income Canadians to obtain tax advantages that were not available to other Canadian tax payers. That concern has led to the release on July 18th 2017, of a consultation paper along with draft legislation. Finance is currently asking for input from interested parties and stakeholders and has stated that the consultation period will end on October 2, 2017. At this point, whatever happens after that date is anyone’s guess, but speculation is high that changes will be introduced to close what the Department perceives as abusive practices relating to private corporations.
Specifically, there are three specific tax planning strategies employed by private corporations that the department is most concerned with:
Sprinkling income using a private corporation
Income tax paid on income from a private corporation can be greatly reduced by causing that income to be received in the form of dividends by individuals who would pay tax at a much lower rate or not at all. These dividends are usually paid to adult children or other family members who are shareholders of the private corporation or to a family trust. By “sprinkling” the income in this manner the amount of income tax paid can be greatly reduced. Read more
Many business owners are unaware that corporate owned life insurance combined with the Capital Dividend Account (CDA) provides an opportunity to distribute corporate surplus on the death of a shareholder to the surviving shareholders or family members tax-free.
Income earned by a corporation and then distributed to a shareholder is subject to tax integration which results in the total tax paid between the two being approximately the same as if the shareholder earned the income directly. Integration also means that if a corporation is in receipt of funds which it received tax-free, then those funds should be tax free when distributed to the shareholder.
The Capital Dividend Account is a notional account which tracks these particular tax-free amounts accumulated by the corporation. It is not shown in accounting records or financial statements of the corporation. If there is a balance in the CDA it may be shown in the notes section of the financial statements for information purposes only.
Generally, the tax-free amounts referred to, are the non-taxable portions of capital gains received by the corporation and the death benefit proceeds of life insurance policies where the corporation is the beneficiary. Read more