When money is lent to a partnership or S-corporation acting as a pass-through entity (essentially a business that is designed to reduce the effects of double taxation) by that entity’s owner, the interest income on that loan to the portfolio income can qualify as passive income. As the IRS language reads: "Certain self-charged interest income or deductions may be treated as passive activity gross income or passive activity deductions if the loan proceeds are used in a passive activity."
Portfolio income is income generated from selling an asset, and if you sell that asset for a higher price than what you paid for it originally, you will have a gain. Depending on the holding period of the asset, and other factors, that gain might be taxed at ordinary income tax rates or capital gains tax rates. Interest and dividends are other examples of portfolio income.
If you can max out your 401k or max out your IRA and then save an additional 20%+ of your after-tax, after-retirement contribution, good things really start to happen. If one is looking for earlier financial independence, such as retiring in their 40s or early 50s, it may be a good idea to skew towards more after-tax savings and investments given one has to wait until 59.5 to withdraw from their 401k or IRA penalty-free.
How will this new framework for refundable taxes impact the real estate environment? Well, given that refundable taxes apply in respect of CCPCs only, this new regime will not affect the foreign pension funds, public corporations or tax-exempt entities investing in real estate in Canada. The new regime will also not impact CCPCs that retain their profits within the corporation instead of distributing them to their individuals nor will it impact CCPCs that earn pure active business income or pure passive investment income. Instead, these measures will affect CCPCs accumulating profits from both active business income and passive income and paying these profits out to their individual shareholders.
Where a CCPC has a RDTOH balance, since it has earned passive income, yet has also earned income that is active not subject to the small business deduction, there is an opportunity to benefit from additional deferral. The income that was taxed at the active tax rate of 26.7% would be eligible to be paid to the shareholder as an eligible dividend (“Eligible Dividend”). When an Eligible Dividend is paid that generates a tax refund from the RDTOH pool of the company, there is a 4% tax savings than if the dividend was not an Eligible Dividend. Profits from passive income do not need to be paid as a dividend that is not an Eligible Dividend to the shareholder for the corporation to recover its RDTOH pool. There is currently no ordering rule or tracking system forcing corporations to declare and pay a dividend that is not an Eligible Dividend taxed at a higher rate in the individual’s hands in order for it to recover its RDTOH.
The IRS gives more specific limitations as to what it means by “material” participation. For one, it includes if you worked at least 500 hours in a year on the project or more than 100 hours when no one else works more than you. Additionally, if you do at least almost all of the work in an activity, it’s considered material involvement. Even the combination of your work in multiple significant participation activities (SPAs), if it exceeds 500 hours, counts as material participation. There are a few more criteria that would qualify a project as material. You only need to meet one to qualify.
Passive income bluntly is income that would continue to generate if you died. Morbid. How about this? Passive income is income that would continue to generate if you decided to do nothing and sunbathe on some beach. That sounds better. Passive income includes rental income, royalties and income from businesses or investment partnerships / multi-member LLCs where you do not materially participate.
To explain, $150,000 in passive income is roughly equal to $3 million worth of investments, assuming an average interest rate of 5%. This means that unless your clients are holding millions of dollars worth of investments, they shouldn’t need to worry about losing their small business tax rate. If you’re working with clients whose businesses are this large and they’re concerned about being taxed at the corporate rate, you may encourage them to sell off some of those investments and spend more time developing their active income streams. But for businesses of this size, the corporate tax rate shouldn’t be much of a problem.
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