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A Guide To Estate Planning And Real Estate Tax In Canada
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Everyone needs an estate plan. It’s the single, most effective way to preserve your wealth and transfer your worldly goods efficiently, tax-effectively, and according to your wishes. It’s not something you do for yourself, but rather for the well-being of your loved ones.
Depending on your needs and objectives, your estate planning should include a will, one or more trusts, and in many cases, powers of attorney for your finances and health care. In an effective estate plan, these elements work together to provide for the security of yourself and those you care about.
For most people, the greatest tax exposure exists with respect to the cash and investments which are sitting within an RRSP or RRIF. Generally speaking, the full value of these "registered" accounts at the time of death must be reported as "income" in the person's final income tax return. The amount of income tax actually payable will depend on the deceased's marginal income tax rate in his or her final income tax return. (However, there are a few important exceptions, such as when the RRSP or RRIF is transferred to a surviving spouse.)
Other assets can also attract tax in your estate. For example, if you own a vacation home that has appreciated in value, a taxable capital gain may eventually have to be reported by your executors in your final income tax return, because of the "deemed disposition" on death. Similarly, if you have a portfolio of marketable securities, some of the long-held stocks may have increased significantly in value. Such accrued but unrealized gains as of the time of death will give rise to income tax in your final income tax return, unless there are large enough offsetting deductions or tax credits, such as charitable donations.
For estate planning purposes, you need to think about the capital gains taxes that will be imposed on your estate in the future. Tax rates change from year-to-year, and it is anybody's guess what the income tax rates will be a year from now, let alone in five, 10 or 20 years. Estate plan is a long-term proposition, and there is no way of knowing how long we will live.
Many provinces in Canada levy real estate tax (or property tax) on real estate based upon the current use and value of the land. This is the major source of revenue for most municipal governments in Canada. While property tax levels vary among municipalities in a province there is usually common property assessment or valuation criteria laid out in provincial legislation. There is a trend to use a market value standard for valuation purposes in most provinces with varying revaluation cycles. A number of provinces have established an annual reassessment cycle where market activity warrants while others have longer periods between valuation periods.
Owners of real estate in Canada, who are non-residents are liable to pay real estate tax and must apply for a Canadian ITN number if they have not already obtained a Social Insurance Number SIN.)Non-resident must show significant social ties to Canada or intention to settle in Canada long-term in order to become resident for tax purposes there.
Canadian Residents are taxed on their worldwide income similar to Canadian citizens. Nonresidents are taxed only at source on their income from sources within Canada including property rentals and the conduct of a business in Canada and generally must submit a Canadian tax return.
Josep Guardiola is a chartered accountant who practices as an independent tax consultant. He also author of estate planning, in this article he provides real estate tax tips. For more information you can visit Taxca.com.
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