Is your business going to make too much money this year? Then now's the time you should be planning ahead to lessen your Canadian income tax bite by splitting your business income within your family.
The basic theory behind income splitting is simple. You will pay less Canadian income tax if you make less money because of the sliding tax rates. Income splitting is the transfer of income from a person in a higher income tax bracket to a person in a lower income tax bracket. As a business, you can decrease your actual income by hiring your spouse and/or children as employees, and passing along some of your business income to them in the form of salary or wages.
Suppose, for instance, your business's net income is $75,000. But your spouse has been working in the business all that year, and you paid him a salary of $30,000. Your net income drops to $45,000, a considerable tax savings for you. And, because your spouse's income of $30,000 is taxed at an even lower income tax rate, you get, in effect, a double tax savings.
And Canadian income tax savings are not the only benefits to this tax strategy. Because your spouse now has an income, he or she will be contributing to the CPP and able to contribute to an RRSP, helping you both build a more comfortable retirement.
Income Splitting Canada Rules
So what are the catches to income splitting in Canada? First, your spouse has to actually work for the business. That means he or she has to have designated duties that he or she carries out, just like any other employee. And as the employer, you have to keep and maintain the requisite employee records. Just saying that your spouse worked for you last year and picking a number you like out of the air is not enough.
Secondly, as the employer, you have to pay your spouse a salary or wage commensurate with the salary or wage you would pay anyone else to do the same job. You can't pay him or her $70,000 to do basic office tasks, such as filing and answering the phones, for example. If your spouse is working for you as an office assistant, you need to pay him or her a rate equal to what other office assistants make.
Keeping employee records and paying your spouse an appropriate wage or salary is a small price to pay, however, for such powerful Canadian income tax benefits. If your spouse or child isn't already an employee of yours, maybe it's time to think seriously about what he or she could do for your business.
You can find out more about how to put the power of income splitting to work for you by talking to your accountant.