Possible Taxes on the Sale of a Principal Residence
When you sell your home, you may realize a capital gain. A capital gain is a profit earned on the sale of property. However, there is an exception to this rule if your home is a principal residence which would allow you to pay no taxes on the sale.
What is the Principal Residence Exemption
The principal residence exemption allows homeowners to avoid paying taxes on the capital gains realized from the sale of their primary residence. If a property qualifies as a taxpayer’s principal residence, he or she can use the principal residence exemption to reduce or eliminate any capital gain otherwise occurring, for income tax purposes, on the disposition (or deemed disposition) of the property.
The Principal Residence Exemption and the 2016 Changes
Prior to 2016, for every year you have owned your property, it was your sole residence, you did not have to report any income tax on the profits from the sale of your home, or to report the sale of a principal residence at all. However, in an effort to ensure only eligible homeowners benefit from the exemption, the federal government now requires that taxpayers report information such as the proceeds of sale, and details of the transaction to claim the principal residence exemption. See our other article regarding designating your property here: How do I designate a Property as my Principal Residence – T2091 Form
For 2016 and onwards, this information is provided by the taxpayer on Schedule 3 of their income tax return, and by filing Form T2091, Designation of a Property as a Principal Residence by an Individual, for the year the property is sold. It is important to note that only one home is eligible for a principal tax exemption for any given tax year.
If you have sold your home and not reported it in your income tax return, it may be appropriate to submit an application through the Voluntary Disclosures Program to avoid significant penalties.
The Principal Residence Exemption and Possible Taxes
If you sell your principal residence, normally the profits are tax free. However, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may claim that you are in the business of buying and selling homes. If this is the case, then your profit could actually be termed business income. You would have to include 100% of the profit as income, and you don’t even get to claim it as a capital gain which would have cut the taxes in half.
Additionally, if you are found to be in the business of buying and selling homes, the CRA may come in and say you should have charged GST/HST on the sale of the property. If this occurs, all of a sudden 13% (in Ontario) of the total purchase price actually counts as GST/HST. Which means you might owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in GST/HST which may remove your entire profit margin.
If either of the above happen to you, it is likely that the CRA will charge you their worst possible penalty known as gross negligence. This adds 50% of the amount owing as a penalty. So if you now owe $100,000, you will actually owe $150,000 before they even start calculating any interest charges.
If you have recently sold your principal residence, and you are worried about the above, call us today! Or if you are being audited for the sale of your principal residence and you need professional assistance, we are here to help! Contact us today!
This article provides information of a general nature only. It does not provide legal advice nor can it or should it be relied upon. All tax situations are specific to their facts and will differ from the situations in this article. If you have specific legal questions you should consult a lawyer.