Senate approves of Bill C-208
June 29, 2021 By Canadian Federation of Agriculture
Last week, the Canadian Senate voted in favour of adopting Bill C-208, which will seek to reduce costs around the transfer of small businesses and farms to a family member.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), representing 200,000 farm families across Canada, says they are “extremely pleased” that the Senate voted in favour of Bill C-208’s adoption. The private member’s Bill addresses long-standing barriers that make it more costly to transfer a farm to a family member than to a third party and will help strengthen the long-standing tradition of family farming in Canada. Now that the Senate passed the Bill, it should receive rapid Royal assent.
According to the CFA, with billions in family farm assets needing to change hands in the coming years, the passage of this Bill comes at a critical time for the sector.
“The average age of Canadian farmers, now at over 55 years, continues to climb and farm debt is at an all-time high. If we want to ensure the next generation of family farms is in strong financial health to capitalize on the immense opportunities facing our sector and drive Canada’s economic recovery, we cannot burden them with undue tax liabilities from day one,” said CFA President Mary Robinson. “This is tremendously positive news for farm families, who will now will not have to face an additional tax bill, potentially in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This reduced financial strain on the next generation will directly contribute to a more robust and vibrant Canadian Agriculture sector.”
With more than 95 per cent of Canadian farms owned and operated by Canadian farm families, Bill C-208 will contribute directly to the sustainability of thousands of family farms in the next few years alone.
CFA has supported Bill C-208 as it essentially ensures that intergenerational farm transfers receive the same capital gains treatment as those businesses selling to an unrelated party, rather than treating the difference as a dividend that is taxed at a higher rate and cannot access the lifetime capital gains exemption.
Robinson added, “We have never been seeking preferential treatment for family farms but have been seeking to ensure the Income Tax Act puts intergenerational farm transfers on a level playing field as those selling to a stranger.
“On behalf of the farming families across Canada , we are appreciative that our long-standing recommendation to remove this barrier to smooth family farm transfers has reached a successful conclusion. We thank all the MP’s, Senators, and in particular MP Larry Maguire and Senator Diane Griffin, who supported and tirelessly advocated on behalf of Canadian farmers,” she said.
Implications for small businesses
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the transfer of businesses to the next generation of entrepreneurs has major implications for the Canadian economy: nearly a quarter of business owners (72 per cent) indicated they would be exiting their business by 2028, representing a transfer of $1.5 trillion. Nearly half (46 per cent) would like their children to take over the business. However, the sale of property to family members is considered a dividend, while the sale to a third party is considered a capital gain, which includes the right to a Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE). Business owners who sell to their children cannot benefit from the LCGE, which means that they have to pay a higher tax bill.
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