Amendment to Capital Gains Tax

The 2024 federal budget (Budget 2024) proposed to increase the capital gains inclusion rate for individuals, trusts, and corporations. Specifically, 66.7% of capital gains realized on or after June 25, 2024 would generally be included in income for tax purposes (this is up from 50%). To provide some relief, the budget proposed that capital gains up to $250,000 realized by an individual—either directly or indirectly through a trust or partnership—will remain subject to the 50% inclusion rate each year.

Despite years of speculation within the tax community about a potential increase in the capital gains inclusion rate, this announcement still took taxpayers and tax professionals by surprise. Currently there’s no draft legislation, so many uncertainties remain about how this change would interact with existing provisions in the Income Tax Act. If enacted, the change will be effective June 25, 2024.

This provides only a brief window for taxpayers to understand the potential impact and to decide whether to take action.

Should I take action before June 25, 2024?

A higher capital gains inclusion rate means higher taxes on the sale of investments and other capital property. For example, an individual subject to the top marginal tax rate can anticipate about an 8% – 9% increase in taxes on capital gains in excess of $250,000 realized on or after June 25, 2024. For corporations and trusts, the tax rate increase is immediate on the first dollar of gains.

Taxpayers should consider potential unforeseen tax consequences that could outweigh the tax benefit of realizing a gain before the inclusion rate increase. Considerations include:

  • Large capital gains may result in alternative minimum tax for individuals and certain trusts.
  • Gains on a Canadian residential property (or rights to a pre-construction residential property) held for less than one year may be deemed to be business income (i.e., 100% taxable) under the residential property flipping rule, unless an exception is met.
  • The proposed general anti-avoidance rule (GAAR) and penalty.
  • Additional factors, such as current market prices and the loss of the tax-deferral on the unrealized gain.