Federal Budget 2018: Trust Reporting Requirements and Compliance

  • 23 avril 2018
  • Brittany Sud

For the past year, the federal government has been contemplating ways to enhance the transparency of information related to trusts.  On February 27, 2018, the federal government tabled the third budget (“Budget 2018”), including a proposal to increase reporting requirements for trusts and impose penalties for failing to comply. As a result, trustees will be faced with additional reporting obligations.  The proposal is aimed at diminishing the potential for taxpayers to engage in aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion activities relating to trusts.
Currently, a trust that does not earn income or make distributions in a year is generally not required to file an annual T3 income tax return.  Even if a trust is required to file a return for a year, currently, there is no requirement for the trust to report the identity of all of its beneficiaries.  Given the absence of an annual reporting requirement and the limitations with respect to the information collected when reporting is required, there is an “information gap”.
To improve the collection of beneficial ownership information with respect to trusts and to assist the CRA in assessing the tax liability for trusts and its beneficiaries, Budget 2018 proposes to impose an obligation on certain trusts to file a T3 income tax return where one does not currently exist and to provide additional information on an annual basis.  The new reporting requirements will apply to express trusts that are resident in Canada and to non-resident trusts that are currently required to file a T3 income tax return.
The following trusts are exempt from the additional reporting requirements:
  • Mutual fund trusts, segregated funds and master trusts;
  • Trusts governed by registered plans (i.e., DPSPs, RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSAs, etc.);
  • Lawyers’ general trust accounts;
  • Graduated rate estates and qualified disability trusts;
  • Trusts that qualify as non-profit organizations or registered charities; and
  • Trusts that have been in existence for less than three months or that hold less than $50,000 in assets throughout the tax year (provided, in the latter case, that their holdings are confined to deposits, government debt obligations and listed securities).
Where the new reporting requirements apply, the trust will be required to report the identity of all trustees, beneficiaries and settlors of the trust, as well as the identity of each person who has the ability to exert control over trustee decisions regarding the appointment of income or capital of the trust (i.e., a protector).
If the trustees fail to file a T3 income tax return, including a required beneficial ownership schedule, where required, there will be a penalty equal to $25 for each day of delinquency, with a minimum penalty of $100 and a maximum penalty of $2,500.  If a failure to file was made knowingly, or due to gross negligence, an additional penalty will apply, equal to 5% of the maximum fair market value of property held during the relevant year by the trust, with a minimum penalty of $2,500.
This new reporting and compliance requirement for trusts will apply to returns required to be filed for the 2021 and subsequent tax years.  It will pose a heavy burden on trustees, and in the case of non-resident trusts, may lead to non-compliance due to lack of awareness or unwillingness to provide the information.
[0] Commentaires