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Tax planning for Canadians who spend money on the U.S.


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It’s no shock that many Canadians make investments south of the border—each in shares and actual property. On the world stage, economically talking, we’re small potatoes.

As of Might 31, 2021, Canada’s nation weight inside the MSCI All Nation World Index was lower than 3%. By comparability, U.S. shares represented virtually 58%. 

The typical Canadian house value in April 2021 was $695,657. In Canadian {dollars}, the common value of a U.S. house was considerably inexpensive, at $535,194 (US $435,400). 

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However earlier than you leap into U.S. investments, know there are each Canadian and U.S. tax implications for a Canadian investor to bear in mind. 

Shares and ETFs

When a non-resident invests in U.S shares or U.S.-listed change traded funds (ETFs), the usual withholding tax on dividends is 30%. A Canadian resident is entitled to a decrease withholding charge of 15% below a treaty between the 2 international locations if they’ve filed a kind W-8 BEN with the brokerage the place they maintain the investments.

The 15% withholding tax is usually the one tax obligation a Canadian investor has to the Inside Income Service (IRS) until they’re a U.S. citizen. (U.S. residents who reside in Canada should file U.S. tax returns in addition to Canadian tax returns.) 

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If a Canadian resident who isn’t a U.S. citizen sells a U.S. inventory or ETF for a revenue, realizing a capital achieve, they don’t pay tax on that achieve to the U.S. authorities. 

Dividends, curiosity, capital positive aspects and different funding revenue

U.S. dividends, curiosity, capital positive aspects and different sources of funding revenue are taxable on a Canadian resident’s T1 tax return as a result of Canadians pay tax on their worldwide revenue. 

Curiosity revenue earned within the U.S. typically has no withholding tax for a Canadian resident.

Any U.S. tax withheld on different sources of funding revenue is eligible to say as a overseas tax credit score. This typically reduces the Canadian tax in any other case payable greenback for greenback, and avoids double taxation. 

U.S. dividends, curiosity, and capital positive aspects have to be reported in Canadian {dollars} primarily based on the relevant overseas change charge. Most individuals use the common charge for the yr to transform their revenue to Canadian {dollars}, however it’s also acceptable to make use of the speed on the date of the transaction. 

Capital positive aspects are somewhat trickier than dividends and curiosity as a result of you might have a minimum of two change charges to find out: the change charge on the date of buy, and the change charge on the date of sale. As a result of change charges fluctuate, it’s attainable that the shift in change charges causes a a lot totally different capital achieve or loss in Canadian {dollars} than in US {dollars}. 

If an investor has bought shares at totally different instances, there’s much more work concerned. You’ll want to determine the change charge for every buy in Canadian {dollars} to find out the adjusted price base. This may be notably difficult for somebody who has a inventory financial savings plan with a U.S.-based employer the place they purchase shares with every paycheque, for instance. 

Canadian-listed ETFs and Canadian mutual funds that personal U.S. shares are themselves thought of to be Canadian residents, identical to a person taxpayer. They are going to be topic to withholding tax earlier than a dividend is obtained by the fund. This withholding tax is usually reported on a T3 slip (or generally a T5 slip, relying on the fund) and might likewise be claimed for a overseas tax credit score in Canada. 

To date, these feedback apply to non-registered, taxable funding accounts. There are barely totally different implications if a Canadian buys U.S. shares or ETFs in a distinct account. 

Registered funding accounts

Tax-free financial savings accounts (TFSAs), registered training financial savings plans (RESPs), and registered incapacity financial savings plans (RDSPs) typically have the identical withholding tax implications by the IRS as a taxable account. Nevertheless, as a result of these accounts are tax-free or tax-deferred, there are not any tax implications for a Canadian past the withholding tax. 

Does this imply you shouldn’t personal U.S. shares in a TFSA, RESP or RDSP? No, but it surely does imply there’s a slight price to doing so, albeit for the advantage of holding a extra diversified funding portfolio. 

A registered retirement financial savings plan (RRSP) or related tax-deferred retirement financial savings account will get particular therapy by the IRS. There may be typically no withholding tax in case you personal U.S. shares or U.S.-listed ETFs. Nevertheless, in case you personal a Canadian-listed ETF or Canadian mutual fund that owns US shares, the tax is withheld earlier than it will get to the fund or to your RRSP. 

For a Canadian taxpayer, the tax implications are equivalent whether or not you might have an account in Canada or the U.S. The bodily location of the account doesn’t matter. 

Actual property

Canadians who spend money on U.S. actual property face totally different implications relying upon whether or not the property is for private use or is a rental property. 

A private-use property typically has no annual tax submitting necessities, whereas a rental property have to be reported in each Canada and the U.S. every year. 

Rental revenue and bills ought to be reported on each a Canadian and a U.S. tax return. A Canadian resident with a U.S. rental property should file a 1040-NR tax return to report the U.S. supply revenue to the IRS. Any U.S. tax payable can typically be claimed in Canada as a overseas tax credit score to cut back Canadian tax in any other case payable. 

Upon sale, there could also be a capital achieve or loss in Canada and the U.S. The Canadian achieve or loss will depend on the acquisition value in Canadian {dollars} and the sale value in Canadian {dollars}, primarily based on the change charges in impact on the time of every transaction. Buy and sale prices, in addition to any renovations, might cut back a capital achieve (or enhance a loss). 

A Canadian is usually topic to fifteen% withholding tax on the gross proceeds of U.S. actual property, until they file for a withholding certificates previous to closing to cut back the tax primarily based on the estimated capital achieve. U.S. capital positive aspects tax paid is eligible to say in Canada as a overseas tax credit score. 

If a Canadian taxpayer has greater than $100,000 in overseas belongings, together with U.S. shares, ETFs, rental actual property, or different investments, they should file the T1135 International Revenue Verification Assertion kind with their Canadian tax return. The $100,000 restrict pertains to the associated fee, in Canadian {dollars}, for the investments. Private-use overseas actual property, in addition to tax-sheltered RRSPs or tax-free TFSAs, don’t should be reported. 

These are simply a few of the fundamental tax implications for a Canadian investor who owns U.S. belongings. Investing in U.S. shares, ETFs or actual property can assist diversify a portfolio, however comes with extra complexity and tax-compliance necessities as properly. 

Extra from Ask a Planner:

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