Exploring the Value of Group Benefit Plans for Your Employees

In today’s ever-evolving workplace landscape, employees place a premium on several key factors:

1. Alignment with employer values, especially sustainability.

2. Achieving a harmonious work-life balance.

3. Assistance in coping with the rising cost of living expenses.

4. Opportunities for delayed retirement.

5. Cultivating a sense of belonging within the workplace.

6. Flexibility in terms of work hours and location.

7. Ensuring job security.

If your business is experiencing growth and you’re considering adding group benefit plans to your employee offerings, you’re in the right place. We understand the importance of providing the right employee benefits solution for your business.

Understanding Group Benefit Plans and Their Value

Group benefit plans form a crucial part of a company’s total compensation package, available to employees regardless of their seniority, position, or qualifications. These plans often encompass medical coverage for employees and their dependents. While it may seem like an additional expense during a period of growth, offering employee insurance benefits is essential for the long-term sustainability of your business.

So, why should your company consider offering group insurance benefits? Here are some compelling reasons:

1. Convenience: Group insurance benefits simplify healthcare coverage for your employees and their families.

2. Workforce Protection: These benefits provide a safety net for your staff, promoting their well-being.

3. Staff Retention: Offering benefits can help you retain valuable employees, reducing turnover.

4. Tax Benefits: Group insurance plans offer tax advantages for both employers and employees.

5. Customization: Plans can be tailored to meet your business’s unique needs.

6. Morale Boost: Providing benefits can boost productivity and morale among your workforce.

What’s Covered by Group Insurance Plans?

Group insurance plans typically cover medical-related expenses that provincial healthcare plans might not fully address. This coverage can include paramedical and ambulance services, dental care, eye care, hospital stays, and certain prescription drugs. Additionally, you have the option to combine group benefits plans with retirement and savings plans.

Types of Group Benefits Plans

Various types of group benefits plans are available, each catering to different company needs and preferences. The most popular options include:

1. Fully-Insured

2. Self-Funded

3. Level-Funded

No matter the size of your business, there’s a group insurance benefit plan that suits your needs. We offer flexible and innovative plans that anticipate your requirements. Our services aim to reduce your administrative workload, allowing you to focus on critical aspects of your business.

Is Group Insurance Cost-Effective?

One of the financial advantages of group insurance is lower premiums while maintaining coverage equivalent to individual health insurance. Typically, employers cover most of the group benefit plan costs, with employees contributing a small percentage of their salary towards the monthly premium. If you’re concerned about the tax implications of providing benefits at work, it’s advisable to with us for specific details.

In conclusion, offering group benefit plans is a strategic move to attract and retain top talent while promoting employee well-being and financial security. Whether you have a small or large business, we are here to assist you in finding the right plan that aligns with your organization’s needs and objectives.

2024 Federal Budget Highlights

On April 16, 2024, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, presented the federal budget.

While there are no changes to federal personal or corporate tax rates, the budget introduces:

  • An increase in the portion of capital gains subject to tax, rising from 50% to 66.67%, starting June 25, 2024. However, individual gains up to $250,000 annually will retain the 50% rate.

  • The lifetime exemption limit for capital gains has been raised to $1.25 million. Additionally, a new one-third inclusion rate is set for up to $2 million in capital gains for entrepreneurs.

  • The budget confirms the alternative minimum tax changes planned for January 1, 2024 but lessens their impact on charitable contributions.

  • This year’s budget emphasizes making housing more affordable. It provides incentives for building rental properties specifically designed for long-term tenants.

  • Introduces new support measures to aid people buying their first homes.

  • Costs for specific patents and tech equipment and software can now be written off immediately.

  • Canada carbon rebate for small business.

Capital Gains Inclusion Rate

The budget suggests raising the inclusion rate on capital gains after June 24, 2024:

  • Corporations and trusts, from 50% to 66.67%.

  • Individuals, on capital gains over $250,000 annually, also from 50% to 66.67%.

For individuals, the $250,000 annual threshold that applies to net capital gains—the amount remaining after offsetting any capital losses. This includes gains acquired directly by an individual or indirectly through entities such as partnerships or trusts. Essentially, this threshold acts as a deductible, considering various factors to determine the net gains eligible for the increased capital gains tax rate.

Individuals in the highest income bracket, who earn above the top marginal tax rate threshold, will face a higher tax rate on capital gains exceeding $250,000 due to these changes. Furthermore, the budget modifies the tax deduction for employee stock options to align with the updated capital gains taxation rates yet maintains the initial 50% deduction for the first $250,000 in gains. Regarding previously incurred financial losses, the budget plans to adjust the value of these net capital losses from past years so that they are consistent with the current gains, upholding the uniformity with the new inclusion rate.

The budget outlines transitional rules for the upcoming tax year that straddles the implementation date of the new capital gains rates. If the tax year begins before June 25, 2024, but ends afterward, capital gains realized before June 25 will be taxed at the existing rate of 50%. However, gains accrued after June 24, 2024, will be subject to the increased rate of 66.67%. It’s important to note that the new $250,000 threshold for higher tax rates will only apply to gains made after June 24.

Consequently, for individuals earning capital gains beyond the $250,000 threshold and who fall into the highest income tax bracket, new rates will be effective as outlined in the table below. Specifically, this pertains to individuals with taxable incomes exceeding $355,845 in Alberta, $252,752 in British Columbia, $1,103,478 in Newfoundland and Labrador, $500,000 in the Yukon, and $246,752 in all other regions.

Further details and guidance on these new rules are expected to be provided in future announcements.

Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption

The budget proposes raising the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE) for qualified capital gains from $1,016,836 to $1.25 million, effective for sales made after June 24, 2024. Additionally, the exemption will once again be adjusted for inflation starting in 2026. This change aims to increase the tax benefits for individuals selling certain types of property, such as small business shares or farming and fishing assets.

Canadian Entrepreneurs’ Incentive

The Canadian Entrepreneurs’ Incentive is a new tax measure which provides a reduced inclusion rate on capital gains from the disposition of qualifying small business shares.

Qualifications for the incentive include:

  • Shares must be of a small business corporation directly owned by an individual.

  • For 24 months before selling, over half the corporation’s assets must be actively used in a Canadian business or be certain connected assets.

  • The seller needs to be a founding investor who held the shares for at least five years.

  • The seller must have been actively involved in the business continuously for five years.

  • The seller must have owned a significant voting share throughout the subscription period.

  • The incentive does not apply to shares linked to professional services, financial, real estate, hospitality, arts, entertainment, or personal care services sectors.

  • The shares must have been acquired at their fair market value.

  • The incentive allows for a reduced inclusion rate of 1/3 for up to $2 million in capital gains during an individual’s lifetime, with this limit being phased in over 10 years.

This measure will apply to dispositions after December 31, 2024.

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)

The 2023 budget included updates to the AMT, with proposed changes outlined in the summer of 2023. The budget suggests revising the charitable donation tax credit for AMT calculations, increasing the claimable amount from 50% to 80%.

Further proposed changes to the AMT include:

  • Permitting deductions for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, social assistance, and workers’ compensation benefits.

  • Exempting employee ownership trusts (EOTs) entirely from AMT.

  • Allowing certain tax credits, like federal political contributions, investment tax credits (ITCs), and labour-sponsored funds tax credit, to be carried forward if disallowed under the AMT.

These changes would take effect for tax years beginning after December 31, 2023. Additionally, the budget proposes technical amendments that would exempt specific trusts benefiting Indigenous groups from the AMT.

Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) Tax Exemption

The budget proposes a tax exemption on up to $10 million in capital gains for individuals selling their businesses to an EOT if certain criteria are met:

  • Sale of shares must be from a non-professional corporation.

  • The seller, or their spouse or common-law partner, must have been actively involved in the business for at least two years prior to the sale.

  • The business shares must have been solely owned by the seller or a related person or partnership for two years before the sale, and mainly used in active business.

  • At least 90% of the EOT’s beneficiaries must be Canadian residents after the sale.

  • If multiple sellers are involved, they must jointly decide how to divide the $10 million exemption

  • If the EOT doesn’t maintain its status or if the business assets used in active business drop below 50% at any point within 36 months after the sale, the tax exemption may be revoked.

  • For Alternative Minimum Tax purposes, the exempted gains will face a 30% inclusion rate.

  • The normal reassessment period for the exemption is extended by three years.

  • The measure now also covers the sale of shares to a worker cooperative corporation.

This exemption is valid for sales occurring from January 1, 2024, to December 31, 2026.

Home Buyers Plan (HBP)

The budget proposes enhancements to the HBP for 2024 and beyond, effective for withdrawals after April 16, 2024. These include:

  • Raising the RRSP withdrawal limit from $35,000 to $60,000 to support first-time homebuyers and purchases for those with disabilities.

  • Extending the grace period before repayment starts from two to five years for withdrawals made between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2025, deferring the start of the repayment period and thereby providing new homeowners additional time before they need to commence repayments

Interest Deductions and Purpose-Built Rental Housing

The budget proposes a selective exemption from the Excessive Interest and Financing Expenses Limitation (EIFEL) rules for certain interest and financing expenses related to arm’s length financing. This exemption is for the construction or purchase of eligible purpose-built rental housing in Canada and applies to expenses incurred before January 1, 2036. To qualify, the housing must be a residential complex with either at least four private apartment units, each with its own kitchen, bathroom, and living areas, or 10 private rooms or suites. Additionally, at least 90% of the units must be designated for long-term rental. This exemption will be effective for tax years starting on or after October 1, 2023, in line with the broader EIFEL regulations.

Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) – Purpose built rental housing

The budget introduces an accelerated CCA of 10% for new rental projects that start construction between April 16, 2024, and December 31, 2030, and are completed by December 31, 2035. This accelerated depreciation applies to projects that convert commercial properties into residential complexes or expand existing residential buildings that meet specific criteria under the EIFEL rules. However, it does not cover renovations to existing residential complexes.

Additionally, these investments will benefit from the Accelerated Investment Incentive, which allows for immediate depreciation deductions for properties put into use before 2028. Starting in 2028, the regular depreciation rules, including the half-year rule, will apply.

Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance (CCA)- Productivity-enhancing assets

The budget introduces immediate expensing for newly acquired properties that become operational between April 16, 2024, and December 31, 2026. This applies to specific categories such as:

  • Class 44- Patents and rights to patented information

  • Class 46- Data network infrastructure and related software

  • Class 50- General electronic data-processing equipment and software

Properties that are put into use between 2027 and 2028 will continue to benefit from the Accelerated Investment Incentive.

To qualify for this accelerated depreciation, the property must not have been previously owned by the taxpayer or someone closely connected to them, and it must not have been received as part of a tax-deferred deal. Also, if a tax year is shorter, the depreciation will be adjusted accordingly and will not carry over to the next year.

Canada Carbon Rebate for Small Businesses

The budget introduces a Canada Carbon Rebate for small businesses, offering a new refundable tax credit automatically. To be eligible, a Canadian-controlled private corporation must:

  • File a tax return for its 2023 tax year by July 15, 2024, for the fuel charge years from 2019-20 to 2023-24. For subsequent fuel charge years, it must file a tax return for the tax year that ends within that fuel charge year.

  • Employ 499 or fewer people across Canada during the year that corresponds with the fuel charge year.

The amount of the tax credit for each eligible business will depend on:

  • The province where the company had employees during the fuel charge year.

  • The number of employees in that province multiplied by a rate set by the Minister of Finance for that year.

  • The CRA will automatically calculate and issue the tax credit to qualifying businesses.

We can help!

Wondering how this year’s budget will impact your finances or your business? We can help – give us a call today!

Federal Budget 2021 Highlights

On April 19, 2021, the Federal Government released their 2021 budget. We have broken down the highlights of the financial measures in this budget into three different sections:

  • Business Owners

  • Personal Tax Changes

  • Supplementary Highlights

Business Owners

Extending Covid -19 Emergency Business Supports

All of the following COVID-19 Emergency Business Supports will be extended from June 5, 2021, to September 25, 2021, with the subsidy rates gradually decreasing:

  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – The maximum wage subsidy is currently 75%. It will decrease down to 60% for July, 40% for August, and 20% for September.

  • Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) – The maximum rent subsidy is currently 65%. It will decrease down to 60% for July, 40% for August, and 20% for September.

  • Lockdown Support Program – The Lockdown Support Program rate of 25% will be extended from June 4, 2021, to September 25, 2021.

Only organizations with a decline in revenues of more than 10% will be eligible for these programs as of July 4, 2021. The budget also includes legislation to give the federal government authority to extend these programs to November 20, 2021, should either the economy or the public health situation make it necessary.

Canada Recovery Hiring Program

The federal budget introduced a new program called the Canada Recovery Hiring Program. The goal of this program is to help qualifying employers offset costs taken on as they reopen. An eligible employer can claim either the CEWS or the new subsidy, but not both.

The proposed subsidy will be available from June 6, 2021, to November 20, 2021, with a subsidy of 50% available from June to August. The Canada Recovery Hiring Program subsidy will decrease down to 40% for September, 30% for October, and 20% for November.

Interest Deductibility Limits

The federal budget for 2021 introduces new interest deductibility limits. This rule limits the amount of net interest expense that a corporation can deduct when determining its taxable income. The amount will be limited to a fixed ratio of its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (sometimes referred to as EBITDA).

The fixed ratio will apply to both existing and new borrowings and will be phased in at 40% as of January 1, 2023, and 30% for January 1, 2024.

Support for small and medium-size business innovation

The federal budget also includes 4 billion dollars to help small and medium-sized businesses innovate by digitizing and taking advantage of e-commerce opportunities. Also, the budget provides additional funding for venture capital start-ups via the Venture Capital Catalyst Program and research that will support up to 2,500 innovative small and medium-sized firms.

Personal Tax Changes

Tax treatment and Repayment of Covid-19 Benefit Amounts

The federal budget includes information on both the tax treatment and repayment of the following COVID-19 benefits:

  • Canada Emergency Response Benefits or Employment Insurance Emergency Response Benefits

  • Canada Emergency Student Benefits

  • Canada Recovery Benefits, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefits, and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefits

Individuals who must repay a COVID-19 benefit amount can claim a deduction for that repayment in the year they received the benefit (by requesting an adjustment to their tax return), not the year they repaid it. Anyone considered a non-resident for income tax purposes will have their COVID-19 benefits included in their taxable income.

Disability Tax Credit

Eligibility changes have been made to the Disability Tax Credit. The criteria have been modified to increase the list of mental functions considered necessary for everyday life, expand the list of what can be considered when calculating time spent on therapy, and reduce the requirement that therapy is administered at least three times each week to two times a week (with the 14 hours per week requirement remaining the same).

Old Age Security

The budget enhances Old Age Security (OAS) benefits for recipients who will be 75 or older as of June 2022. A one-time, lump-sum payment of $500 will be sent out to qualifying pensioners in August 2021, with a 10% increase to ongoing OAS payments starting on July 1, 2022.

Waiving Canada Student Loan Interest

The budget also notes that the government plans to introduce legislation that will extend waiving of any interest accrued on either Canada Student Loans or Canada Apprentice Loans until March 31, 2023.

Support for Workforce Transition

Support to help Canadians transition to growing industries was also included in the budget. The support is as follows:

  • $250 million over three years to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to help workers upskill and redeploy to growing industries.

  • $298 million over three years for the Skills for Success Program to provide training in skills for the knowledge economy.

  • $960 million over three years for the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program to help design and deliver training relevant to the needs of small and medium businesses.

Supplementary Highlights

Federal Minimum Wage

The federal budget also introduces a proposed federal minimum wage of $15 per hour that would rise with inflation.

New Housing Rebate

The GST New Housing Rebate conditions will be changed. Previously, if two or more individuals were buying a house together, all of them must be acquiring the home as their primary residence (or that of a relation) to qualify for the GST New Housing Rebate. Now, the GST New Housing Rebate will be available as long as one of the purchasers (or a relation of theirs) acquires the home as their primary place of residence. This will apply to all agreements of purchase and sale entered into after April 19, 2021.

Unproductive use of Canadian Housing by Foreign Non-Resident Owners

A new tax was introduced in the budget on unproductive use of Canadian housing by non-resident foreign owners. This tax will be a 1% tax on the value of non-resident, non-Canadian owned residential real estate considered vacant or underused. This tax will be levied annually starting in 2022.

All residential property owners in Canada (other than Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada) must also file an annual declaration for the prior calendar year with the CRA for each Canadian residential property they own, starting in 2023. Filing the annual declaration may qualify owners to claim an exemption from the tax on their property if they can prove the property is leased to qualified tenants for a minimum period in a calendar year.

Excise Duty on Vaping and Tobacco

The budget also includes a new proposal on excise duties on vaping products and tobacco. The proposed framework would consist of:

  • A single flat rate duty on every 10 millilitres of vaping liquid as of 2022

  • An increase in tobacco excise duties by $4 per carton of 200 cigarettes and increases to the excise duty rates for other tobacco products such as tobacco sticks and cigars as of April 20, 2021.

Luxury Goods Tax

Finally, the federal budget proposed introducing a tax on certain luxury goods for personal use as of January 1, 2022.

  • For luxury cars and personal aircraft, the new tax is equal to the lesser of 10% of the vehicle’s total value or the aircraft, or 20% of the value above $100,000.

  • For boats over $250,000, the new tax is equal to the lesser of 10% of the full value of the boat or 20% of the value above $250,000.

If you have any questions or concerns about how the new federal budget may impact you, call us – we’d be happy to help you!