Real Estate Agents and Incorporating a Company
For years, professions have been lobbying the province of Ontario to be permitted to incorporate. After doctors were given the right to incorporate over a decade ago, legislation has been introduced and tabled that would grant the same rights to real estate agents. To date, nothing has passed. However, it appears that Bill 104, the Tax Fairness for Realtors Act, is picking up steam, and soon may finally grant real estate agents the right to incorporate their business.
Tax Benefits for Real Estate Agents who Incorporate
Passing Bill 104 would carry significant tax benefits for real estate agents who decide to incorporate. In the province of Ontario, the highest income tax bracket is 53.53%, for every dollar earned over $220,000. As real estate agents are sole proprietors, their businesses have been subject to the same marginal tax rates as Ontario incomes.
However, as a Personal Real Estate Corporation, real estate agents will be able to enjoy the Ontario small business tax rate, which is 13.5% on the first $500,000 of income earned. Furthermore, as long as the corporation is owned, controlled, and operated in Canada, it can enjoy the Canadian Controlled Private Corporations tax rate of 26.5% on income that exceeds $500,000. The incorporation route promises huge tax savings for real estate agents.
There are also valuable income splitting opportunities with corporations’ income, which would be accessible to real estate agents. Income splitting allows corporations to separate its income among family members, which can be done strategically to stay in lower tax brackets. Corporations can do this by either paying them a “fair salary”, or issuing dividends.
There are also large tax deferral opportunities. Individuals are required to report income to the CRA that they earned during the year. Corporations only have to pay tax on income that is withdrawn. Therefore, they can delay the payment on a share of income by just leaving it in the corporation. This gives corporations significant tax planning advantages, as they can control the amount of income leaving their corporation in a specific tax year to lower their tax obligations.
Reporting Requirements for Real Estate Corporations
Of course, with incorporation comes new challenges. Requirements for filing and record keeping for corporations are far more onerous than for individuals. There are also indirect taxes like employer health tax, WSIB, taxes for payroll and GST/HST on commissions that can add expenses. In essence, while the power to incorporate would give real estate agents far more power to file their income strategically and enjoy small business tax rates, it also requires a far more complicated tax filing process with more costly obligations.
If you are a real estate agent and would like to discuss the implications of incorporating your business in the near future, contact our firm for a free consultation. We are here to help!
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.