Reasons not to use a holdco for real estate investments

While there are potential advantages to holding real estate investments in a holding company (Holdco) for taxation purposes in Canada, there are also certain considerations and circumstances where it may not be advisable. Here are a few reasons why holding real estate in a Holdco may not be optimal from a taxation standpoint:

  • Loss of Principal Residence Exemption: If the real estate property qualifies as your principal residence, holding it within a Holdco can result in the loss of the principal residence exemption. The principal residence exemption allows for the tax-free appreciation on the sale of a designated principal residence. By holding the property in a corporation, this exemption may no longer be available, potentially leading to higher capital gains tax obligations upon the sale.
  • Lack of Access to Capital Gains Exemptions: Holding real estate investments in a Holdco might exclude the ability to access certain capital gains exemptions. For example, the lifetime capital gains exemption for qualified small business corporation shares, which can significantly reduce or eliminate taxes on the sale of qualifying shares, may not be applicable to real estate assets held within a Holdco.
  • Limitations on Deductibility of Losses: Holding real estate in a Holdco may restrict the deductibility of losses against other sources of income. Rental losses incurred by the Holdco may not be available to offset income from other sources, such as employment or investments, which could limit tax planning opportunities.
  • Higher Tax Rates and Double Taxation: Corporations in Canada are subject to higher tax rates compared to individual taxpayers. Rental income earned by a Holdco is taxed at the corporate level, and if distributed as dividends to shareholders, it may be subject to additional taxes at the individual level. This potential double taxation can reduce the after-tax returns on real estate investments held in a Holdco.
  • Additional Administrative and Compliance Burden: Holding real estate investments in a Holdco introduces additional administrative and compliance requirements. This includes maintaining separate accounting records, filing corporate tax returns, and adhering to corporate governance regulations. The associated costs and administrative burden may outweigh the potential tax benefits for smaller real estate portfolios.

It is essential to consult with tax professionals and advisors who specialize in real estate taxation and corporate structures to assess the specific implications and evaluate whether holding real estate in a Holdco aligns with your taxation and investment objectives. They can provide tailored advice based on your individual circumstances and help you make informed decisions regarding your real estate holdings.