Change in tax law sends a strong signal to international investors that Canada is “open for business”
Following March 4th Canadian federal Budget, Deloite released a comprehensive summary (Link to full release) of the impact of the changes to the Taxable Canadian Property better knowned as Section 116, which is outlined below.
The CVCA Applauds Budget Decision to Remove Foreign Investment Barrier (CVCA release Link).
“The CVCA has long requested the elimination of Section 116 as it pertains to the venture capital and private equity industry and we wish to congratulate the federal government for taking action,” said Gregory Smith, President of the CVCA. “Many CVCA members, as well as a large number of individuals and organizations, have been actively encouraging the federal government to eliminate this section of the Income Tax Act which has had a dampening effect on cross-border venture capital and private equity transactions. Its removal provides an important signal to foreign investors that Canada welcomes their contributions to growing companies and employment.”
Note that there were also a number of highlight’s from the Canadian government’s Throne Speech and Budget that may have a direct impact on the technology landscape of Canada. TechVibes did a good job of summarizing the main Tech elements (Link to blog here)
Government removes tax barriers and stimulates flow of capital across Canadian border
Canadian companies across the country are likely applauding today’s federal budget, which contains tax law changes that give them the advantage they need to compete on the global stage.
By amending the definition of “taxable Canadian property” to exclude shares of Canadian private companies (where not more than 50% of their value is derived from real property in Canada, Canadian resource property or timber resource property), the government has significantly reduced administrative and, in some cases, economic barriers to foreign investment in Canadian-based innovation and technology. This change puts Canada at the top of the list of places to invest globally.
“The changes in tax legislation announced in today’s budget are among the most significant changes to capital gains taxation since the introduction of taxation of capital gains in 1972,” explains John Ruffolo, Global Tax Technology, Media & Telecommunications Leader, Deloitte. “The Canadian government has listened to the financing community, understood the severity of the problem and removed the major tax barriers that have prevented critically needed international investment capital from crossing our borders.”
“At a minimal cost to the government, this amendment will have an immediate, positive and direct impact on Canada’s ability to grow a robust Canadian technology industry,” explains Terry Matthews, Chairman, Wesley Clover. “By sending a clear message to international investors that Canada is “open for business”, the government will make Canadian companies more attractive to foreign investors overnight. This will help Canadian companies raise the capital they need to achieve global leadership status.”
The change means a much more welcoming environment for foreign investors. In the vast majority of cases, non-residents who were not taxable on the disposition of their investments in such shares due to Canada’s broad international tax treaty network, are now exempt from tax under Canadian domestic law without having to apply for treaty relief. As a result, they are no longer required to comply with the Section 116 tax clearance certificate procedure or file a Canadian income tax return. The changes also remove what were perceived to be insurmountable barriers for many venture capitalists who considered the previous administrative requirements and economic delays for each investor to be strong deterrents to investing in Canada.
“The removal of the Section 116 tax barrier is a tax master stroke by the Canadian government enabling Canada’s emerging technology companies to access deep pools of international capital and the vast global customer markets to which those pools are connected,” notes Stephen Hurwitz, Partner, Choate Hall & Stewart LLP in Boston. “I predict that over time this farsighted tax legislation will help propel Canada’s extraordinary technology into global industry leadership in numerous markets, and will likely be viewed in the future as a defining moment for the Harper government in Canadian innovation.”
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE SECTION 116 TAX BARRIERS
The following describes the tax barriers that were removed in today’s budget and that are no longer preventing international investment in Canada:
- Withholding and Section 116 certificate process — The overwhelming majority of foreign VCs are not subject to Canadian tax when they sell an investment, but face a delay of many months to work through the Section 116 tax clearance process until funds can freely flow to them. Many foreign VCs are structured such that each of the investors in the VC — sometimes hundreds or even thousands — is subject to this clearance process as if they held the investment directly. This delay results in lower returns and frequently causes direct financial loss to investors. Canadians who invest in the United States, the United Kingdom and other major global markets do not face such taxes or delays from red tape.
- Requirement to file Canadian tax returns by foreigners who don’t owe taxes creates hundreds of pages of unnecessary paperwork — Canada imposed tax filing requirements in circumstances where no taxes were payable by these investors. When a foreign VC sells an investment, each investor of the foreign VC has to file a Canadian tax return even if they don’t owe any taxes. This results in literally hundreds of pages of documents that are required for signature and processing for a single sale. This tax return filing issue also applies to certain Canadian public companies.
Why Canada was perceived by VCs as having an unfavourable tax environment
A 2007 survey by Deloitte and Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) of 528 VCs from around the world found that 40% of U.S. respondents and 28% of global respondents cited Canada’s unfavourable tax environment as a key reason for not investing in Canadian companies. This level of concern is five times higher than for any other country in the survey and reflects the current investment crisis within Canada’s venture capital industry. The survey also found that Canada is attracting the attention of just 11% of U.S. VCs as a primary country for expansion — behind China (34%) and India (24%).
Please find the full release by Deloitte Here. EAVB_THMQKZAOUO