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Making a Dividend Rental Arrangement

          Generally, under the Canadian Income Tax Act (the “Act”) inter-company dividends between two Canadian corporations are deductible by the recipient of the dividend in computing its income for a given year.  However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.  The rules that govern dividend rental arrangements are examples of such an exception.  The Act prohibits a corporation from deducting dividends received on a share that is part of a dividend rental arrangement.  To be considered a dividend rental arrangement under the Canadian Income Tax Act the arrangement must meet the following requirements: 

  • The corporation has borrowed a share under a securities lending arrangement
  • The corporation has retained or disposed of the share and acquired identical shares
  • The corporation has compensated the lender of the shares for the amount of dividends received on any shares that provides the same risk as the borrowed shares

          If these elements are in existence, it must then be determined whether the main reason for entering into the arrangement was to receive a dividend and there must be an increase or decrease in the value of the shares that will accrue to someone other than the corporation.  Canada Revenue Agency Document no. 9511155 provided an opinion on this very issue.  The question was whether the proposed transaction met the definition of dividend rental arrangement.  The CRA declined to provide any comment on whether the main reason for entering in to the transaction was to receive a dividend since this issue was a question of fact that required a more detailed review than what could be provided.  If this requirement was considered to be satisfied, then the CRA felt there was sufficient information about the proposed transaction to provide an opinion that someone other than the corporation would benefit from the gain or take the risk on the loss of the loaned shares.  Therefore, the arrangement would clearly be a dividend rental arrangement.

          If it were not for the dividend rental arrangement rules a corporation would be able to take advantage of the inter-company dividend deduction and place itself in a more favorable tax position without any additional risk.  This result would be inconsistent with the intention of the Act.      

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Case Comment: Investing In Our Youth: Supporting Provincial Amateur Athletic Programs

          Whether it is basketball, football, soccer, baseball, figure skating or hockey, for as far back as Canadian history goes sports have been an integral part of many young peoples’ daily lives.  However, in the new electronic age and an era where sports are treated as “extra-curricular” activities, families are putting less emphasis on physical activity.   Children are spending more time watching television, listening to music in their rooms on their IPODs, glued to their computer screens surfing the net or playing with their Sony Playstations, X-Boxes or Gameboys rather than spending time outdoors and playing with friends or joining a sports league.  For underprivileged children who can’t afford these gadgets, their time may be spent devising ways to obtain those things, sometimes legally, but other times by illegal means.  Experts have indicated that children who are involved in sports are more confident, focused and work better with others.  It has also been reported that girls who are involved in sports are less likely to get pregnant at a young age and young men are less likely to get involved in illegal activities.  As a result, many argue that since involvement in sports has a direct benefit for society all sporting organizations should be eligible to apply for charitable status under the Income Tax Act[i] (Canada) based on the common-law requirement that an organization must demonstrate a benefit to its community before it can be registered.  This, however, is not the government’s or the court’s opinion – at least as far as provincially run and operated amateur athletic associations are concerned.

          In A.Y.S.A. Amateur Youth Soccer Association v. CRA[ii], the taxpayer A.Y.S.A. was confronted with this issue.  A.Y.S.A. was established to promote amateur youth soccer in Ontario.  As one of its objectives the organization stated that it provided youth with an opportunity to develop pride in their abilities and soccer skills.  A.Y.S.A. believes that youth who take part in the program will develop a healthy appreciation for soccer, fitness and team building that would translate into improved life management skills.  A.Y.S.A also argues that youth that are involved in sports like soccer can focus on physical activity and team building rather than illegal activity.  Based on these objectives, the organization submitted an application for registration as a charity under the Act.  The Minister denied the taxpayer’s application on the basis that the activities of the organization were not charitable under the laws of Canada.  The taxpayer appealed.

          As defined under subsection 149(1) of the Act, a charitable organization is an entity that uses all of its resources in the support of charitable activities carried on by the organization.  In other words, if any of the organization’s resources are used to support non-charitable activities it will not be eligible for charitable status.  The Act also defines a registered charity under 248(1) as an entity that is resident in Canada and has been registered by the Minister as a charitable organization.  The Act, however, does not provide a precise definition of what constitutes a charitable activity.  The CRA has published Guidelines[iii], Interpretation Bulletins[iv] and policy statements to provide clarity and predictability about the appropriate interpretation.  The courts also provide guidance, as well.  For example, Vancouver Society of Immigrant & Visible Minority Women[v], the leading case on what constitutes charitable activities, provides the following categories of activities that can be registered by the Minister:

o       relief of poverty;

o       advancement of education;

o       advancement of religion; and

o       other purposes beneficial to the community

          Any activity that does not fit within one of these categories will disqualify an organization from registration as a charity.  However, there are additional requirements that must be met once an organizations is considered to fit within any of these categories.  In this case, A.Y.S.A. filed its application on the basis that the activities it engages in as an amateur sports association are beneficial to the community.  Although there is a clear benefit to society from being involved in sports, historically, sports have not been recognized as a charitable activity.  In fact, in response to a letter from a taxpayer to the CRA inquiring about the status of an application for charitable status, the Minister issued a response clearly stating this:

I would add as a note of caution that our courts do not recognize the promotion of a sport or sports as a charitable purpose.[vi]   

          The taxpayer argued that despite the Minister’s position, generally, on sports and the overwhelming common-law support for this position, given that one case has previously held that amateur sports in Ontario was eligible for charitable status[vii] this interpretation could apply to its application as well. 

[i] R.S.C. 1985, c. 1 (5th Supp.), (amended) (hereinafter the “Act”).  All statutory references herein, unless otherwise stated, are to the Act.

[ii] 2006 FCA 136 (hereinafter A.Y.S.A. v. CRA).

[iii] See T4063: Registering a Charity for Income Tax Purposes; and RC4108: Registered Charities and the Income Tax Act.

[iv] See IT-83R3.

[v] 1999] 2 C.T.C. 1 (S.C.C.).  Also see Commissioners for Special Purposes of Income Tax v. Pemsel [1891] A.C. 531 (H.L.).

[vi] See CIL 1994-012.

[vii] Re Laidlaw Foundation (1984) 13 D.L.R. (4th) 491. (O.H.C.J. Div. Ct.)

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Federal and Ontario Personal Income Tax Rates for 2005 Tax Year

Below is a chart outlining the applicable tax rates for the 2005 tax year.  Under the Budget 2006 proposal only the lowest tax rate will be changed (to 15%). 

Tax Rate

Threshold Income



up to 36,378




72,757 - 118,285


118,286 and over



up to 30,544


30,545 - 65,000


69,517 and over

2006 Proposal: Impact on Students

The 2006 Budget proposals provided two significant changes directed at students: textbook tax credit and the elimination of tax on scholarship and bursary income.

Textbook Tax Credit

Budget 2006 proposes to introduce a non-refundable textbook tax credit to help with the burdens of obtaining a quality education.  The tax credit will be calculated based on the lowest personal income tax rate as proposed in Budget effective beginning in the 2006 taxation year.  Therefore, students claiming a credit in 2006 will apply proposed rate of 15.25% and in subsequent years the rate applied is 15.5%.  Students will still be able to claim the education tax credit.   

Where the student is full-time, the credit allowable is $65 for each month for which the student qualifies for the full-time education tax credit amount.  Where the student is part-time, it is $20 for each month the student qualifies for the part-time education tax credit amount.

Unused textbook tax credit amounts can be added to unused tuition and education tax credit amounts and carried forward to a future year.  The unused portion of the credit may also be transferred to a spouse or common-law partner, parent, or grandparent.

Scholarship and Bursary Income

Under the current income tax rules, the first $3,000 that an individual receives as a scholarship, fellowship or bursary income for post-secondary education or occupational training does not have to be included in income.  Budget 2006 proposes to provide a full tax exemption for these types of income effective beginning in the 2006 taxation year.  The exemption will apply only to amounts received by a student that is enrolled in a program, which entitles the student to claim the education tax credit.  Basically, this includes programs at the post-secondary level and programs at educational institutions that are certified by the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development as providing skills in an occupation.

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Changes to Personal Income Tax Rates

In November 2005 the previous Liberal government announced a proposed decrease in the lowest personal income tax rate from 16% percent to 15% retroactive to January 1, 2005.  On May 2, 2006, the new Conservative leadership also included this tax reduction as part of their first budget proposal.  They proposed to increase the rate to 15.25% in 2006 effective July 1, 2006.  For subsequent years the rate will be increased to 15.5 per cent.

The 15 percent rate applicable in 2005 applies to any income earned up to $35,595.  In 2006 the increased rate will apply to any income earned up to $36,378.  These rates will be used to calculate non-refundable tax credits.  For example, the new rates will be effective in determining the appropriate amount of tax credits allowable for public transit passes.

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2006 Budget Proposal Allows Tax Credit for Public Transit Passes

The Conservative Government announced their first budget on May 2, 2006.  Although, many commentators have described the budget as clearly having a corporate tax reduction focus, there are also a few personal income tax reductions that are geared towards reducing the average Canadian’s tax burden.  One of the more talked about personal income tax proposals under the Budget 2006 is the monthly public transit pass tax credit. 

The proposal to allow individuals to claim a non-refundable tax credit for the cost of monthly public transit passes[i] will apply to passes purchased for commuting on local bus, streetcar, subway, commuter trains, commuter buses and local ferries.  The credit will be calculated based on to the lowest personal income tax bracket for a particular year.  For example, in 2006 the lowest rate is 15.25 per cent.  Essentially, this will ensure that the value of the credit will be the same for everyone and higher income individuals would not receive a more generous credit.   

Any taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse or common-law partner can claim the credit.  The taxpayer can claim transit costs on behalf of a spouse or common-law partner, and dependent children under 19.  Individuals making claims must retain their receipts or passes for verification purposes.

This proposal will be effective on or after July 1, 2006.

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[i] The credit is not limited to monthly passes.  This is simply a minimum threshold.

CCA and Beneficial Ownership Treatment in a Film Tax Claim

On April 12, 2006 the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) issued a Technical interpretation[i] in response to a taxpayer’s request to confirm that there would be no double counting of broadcast licensing and distribution fees received by a producer for a particular production. 

In the situation presented to the CRA, the Canadian production company was eligible to claim the Canadian film or video production (“CFVP”) tax credit under the Income Tax Act (Canada).[ii]   The company receives licensing and distribution fees throughout the taxation year.  The taxpayer is concerned about the appropriate treatment of the fees.

In response, the CRA noted that provided that the fees would not be characterized as proceeds of distribution for any portion of the company’s ownership interest in the production or treated as the payor’s cost to acquire an ownership interest for the purposes of reducing its undepreciated capital cost, the fees may be included in computing the company’s income. 

Further, the CRA indicated that to the extent that the fees received are to be treated as proceeds of disposition and this results in a reduction to the production company’s undepreciated capital cost, the fees would not also be characterized as current income for the purpose of computing the company’s taxable income for that taxation year. 

In essence, they determined that the fees will not be double counted as long as the taxpayer clearly makes a decision to either treat the fees as taxable income or as proceeds of disposition that reduce undepreciated capital cost. 

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[i] See Canada Revenue Agency Technical Interpretation document # 2006-0167941E5 (E).

[ii] R.S.C. 1985, c. 1 (5th Supp.) section 125.4.  All references in this article to the Act are to the Income Tax Act (Canada) unless otherwise stated.