Episode 24 - Tax Hacks for Busy Medical Professionals with KPMG Tax Lawyer Jason Pisesky (PHE Masterclass Faculty)Jul 31, 2023
Drs. Kevin Mailo and Wing Lim host a webinar with guest Jason Pisesky, a tax lawyer with KPMG Law. Dr. Lim takes the lead in interviewing Jason on an overview of tax hacks and advice that will form the contents of deeper focus in future Masterclass events.
Jason Pisesky starts the conversation by discussing the financial incentive of tax deferral in having a PC. He highlights when a PC is most useful in a professional’s career journey along with when it is an advantage and when it may not be. But Jason’s biggest piece of advice is to be surrounded by, and work with, trusted professionals who can guide decisions correctly.
In this episode, Dr. Wing Lim and Jason Pisesky wade into the shallow end of tax hack topics that will be covered in depth in the upcoming Masterclass. They discuss the benefits of having a PC, what to put in a PC and what to keep out of it, when a hold co or sister corporation is beneficial to form, the change in TOSI rules, how salary can work where split income no longer does, and many other insights and advice from Jason’s wealth of knowledge on all things tax-related. This is vital information to digest and will whet appetites for even deeper conversations in the Masterclass.
About Jason Pisesky:
Jason’s practice covers a broad spectrum of taxation law matters including corporate, personal, farm and estate tax planning as well as representation in dispute resolution and litigation matters
Jason joined KPMG in January 2021. Prior to starting at KPMG, he spent over six years working at a leading western Canadian boutique tax law firm. Jason has experience in both the tax dispute and tax planning for both personal and corporate taxpayers.
Jason has worked with small and medium-sized owner managed operations to reorganize structures in a tax efficient manner, acting as counsel for vendors and purchasers in arm’s length deals as well as families in the midst of related party estate and succession planning. He has argued on behalf of taxpayers in many contexts and obtained favourable results for taxpayers from auditors, appeals officers and lawyers at the Department of Justice. Jason has appeared before the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.
Resources Discussed in this Episode:
Dr. Kevin Mailo: [00:00:01] Hi, I'm Dr. Kevin Mailo, one of the co-hosts of the Physician Empowerment podcast. At Physician Empowerment we're dedicated to improving the lives of Canadian physicians personally, professionally, and financially. If you're loving what you're listening to, let us know. We always want to hear your feedback. Connect with us. If you want to go further, we've got outstanding programming both in-person and online so look us up. But regardless, we hope you really enjoy this episode.
Dr. Kevin Mailo: [00:00:35] Hi, everyone. I'm Kevin Mailo, one of the co-founders of Physician Empowerment, and we're bringing another great webinar podcast episode to you. Today it's going to feature Wing interviewing outstanding tax lawyer Jason Pisesky, and Jason is an associate with KPMG, one of the world's preeminent accounting firms, one of the biggest in the country. And they're going to be talking about tax hacks for busy medical professionals. And this is just the start of how much there is to know. And we are following this up with our master class where we dive into these topics in a lot of depth. And I think it's important for Canadian physicians to be reminded of the fact that it is not just good enough to play offense, right? We're all out there, we're all learning and we're all working hard to, you know, make those returns in our investment portfolios. But a key part that's often neglected is long-term tax planning. And so this is our introduction to that because it can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career, if not millions, depending on where you're at and how you invest. So with that being said, Wing, I'm going to hand it over to you and let you go at it.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:01:54] Sure. Thank you, Kevin. So Wing, I'm Wing Lim. I'm a family physician based out of Edmonton and I'm a co-founder of Physician Empowerment. And a lot of you know me. Some of you don't. And yeah, so so we're launching a new tax series at our Masterclass. And then today it's kind of like a content page, we'll run over a lot of concepts and it's meant to be an overview. So if there's something that kind of goes over your head, don't worry about it. It probably goes over other people's heads. But then instead of lecturing, we thought, it's better to do interview, right? And so Jason and I went back quite a bit and of all places, we met on a dance floor. And so my wife Katie and I and Jason and his wife, Amy, we were kind of dance classmates. And so it's been a number of years, right, that we knew each other as friends, I liked him right away. He was one of the dance teacher's pet, teacher's pet. The teacher actually said that. And then we became friends. And then a few years later I got stuck with a tax planning issue. I got like a dozen companies and the whole thing looked like a spider web. And it went to a tax accounting firm that was ready to skin me alive in fees. So I was unhappy. And I said, Jason, you're a tax lawyer, aren't you? And that's how we started, right? And he got me out in a pinch and we dove into a lot of really, really neat tax strategies. And then so we like to have a chit-chat, another fireside chat with Jason. So Jason is not just a nice guy on a dance floor. He is also a prominent tax lawyer. So he, I think he started at a prominent tax firm in Edmonton and he jumped into one of the largest tax firm in Canada and he's heading the tax division. He told me that, but Jason, you said you got 98% colleagues, accountants, and you're the 2% that are lawyers?
Jason Pisesky: [00:03:46] Yeah. No, that's that's about right. Yeah. It's technically two firms. There's KPMG LLP, which is the accounting side and then KPMG Law, which is where I am. And we are the little brother. But we are becoming more and more important as we kind of stay in the firm longer.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:04:01] Right, so you deal with accountants all day long, right? They present you cases after cases after cases. And most of them are professionals, business owners and including medical doctors, right?
Jason Pisesky: [00:04:13] Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And that's one of the reasons I'm at KPMG is for, as you said, one of the biggest shops in Canada, if not the biggest. And yeah, the variety, the depth, the, you know, working with people across the country is fascinating and gets you out of bed in the morning kind of thing. So.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:04:28] Right. So I may have to put some put the brake on if you go on a little bit fast on the professional track, I may need to slow down and have you hey, dumb it down, dumb it down to the MD level, right? Where I heard one thing that we are idiots outside of our own fields, right? So, you know, we're ignorant outside. So we're here to learn. We're here to learn and have some fun. So. Hey, so we're going to talk about some tax hacks, right? So busy professionals. Meaning that we're busy. We're busy. We're making money, right? We're on a treadmill or trading time for money or trading or trading life energy for money. And at the end of the day, we're in a progressive tax system, unlike where I came from, Hong Kong, which is regressive. And so I think we did the math the whole lifetime after overhead and tax, maybe we only take one-third if we're lucky. Right? So that's substantial, right? So let's have some tax hacks for busy medical professionals. And we're not going to be able to cover everything. But as I said, we had a quick chit-chat before today. So let's talk about some easy ones. I know a lot of people have PCs, a lot of people don't have PCs. Right? And so when does it make sense to have a PC?
Jason Pisesky: [00:05:41] So the tipping point for medical professionals in particular, for everyone who's kind of entitled to a PC, that's lawyers, accountants, dentists, doctors, normally when you have a corporation, a lot of people do it for the liability shield, right? Limited liability. I can't be sued if the corporation gets in trouble. You know, generally speaking. Professionals don't get that kind of protection. And so for them, really, it is kind of a purely financial decision of when do I need a PC? And that determinant is when you're no longer spending all of your income. The financial incentive for having a PC is called tax deferral, where you get to keep the money in the company paying corporate tax at a lower rate and you take out less and spend it. But there's some left behind. If you are early in your stage in your career or maybe just in a in a field or a stage of your life where you're not earning excess amounts and you're just spending all your earning, then having a PC won't provide much of an advantage for the professional.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:06:40] Yeah, so I'm surprised to hear that one of my neighbors, who's a specialist, and some colleagues, husband and wife, both medical doctors and I'm ten years later, 40 years later, their accountants still said that you don't need a PC, right? That's shocking the money that you left on the table. Right? So then. Yeah. So then how do we do this? Like, should we, once we earn more than we spend, or we budget as such in such a way? What do you do? What's the advantage? What's the advantage of the tax deferral?
Jason Pisesky: [00:07:14] So actually, I'm going to tag on to what you just said there first about talking to their other advisor. And you actually said in your opening comments, too, about, you know, we're all only experts in the things that we, of course, spend years studying. We can't know everything. And actually, one of the first tax acts I'd like to highlight is like, surround yourself with the right people, with people to take these tasks off your hands. I'm sure you can allude to it as well. I know tons of professionals of all those stripes, engineers, dentists, doctors, lawyers who, you know, every year come June, they're struggling through TurboTax, trying to figure out their own taxes, collecting receipts, pulling their hair out, just praying they don't get audited by the CRA. And same thing on the legal side of looking after their own minute books and trying to record things and keep everything up to date. And that's not a good use of your time, I would argue. You work hard. You've reached a high level of competency in a very specific set of skills. And what is money but the stored value of time and labor that you can spend to get yourself more time.
Jason Pisesky: [00:08:17] And so, yeah, one of the easiest tax acts is hire people to kind of take some of that off your shoulders to do it correctly. Because as I always tell people, you kind of, you pay for it eventually one way or another, you either pay for it a little bit every year or you wait until you're audited by the CRA, or you start to do a transaction and someone's going to buy your PC and you know, they want to see good minute books and financial records and you have to go pay someone probably a lot more than what that would have been annually to catch you up and kind of do almost a forensic audit to figure out what have you been doing for the last 20 years? I have no idea. But they want to see good journal entries and general ledgers for all the money that's come and gone from the corporation. And so for many reasons, the simplest tax hack is kind of offload a good portion of the tax work onto someone else who does deal with it on a daily basis.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:09:04] Yeah, but with that, there's always this XYZ accounting that doesn't change the lesson plan. I liken it to Mrs. Jones, a fictitious Mrs. Jones, that taught Macbeth for 30 years and never changed her lesson plan. Right? You know, like a lot of have one that accountant that I fired because ten years later found that I could have done something ten years for the last past ten years, I could have saved a ton of money. He never mentioned it, right?
Jason Pisesky: [00:09:29] Absolutely. And there's no right answer to how do I know if my professional is doing the right thing? And again, hopefully the audience appreciates there's, in medical field, there's differences of opinions of diagnoses and prescriptions and all these things. So I think the answer there is, you know, get someone who you do believe in and kind of comes with perhaps good referrals. But there's nothing wrong with getting second opinions, you know. Maybe every five years or ten years or when you reach a certain milestone, you get married or you have your first kid. I don't think a professional should be offended if you go out and speak to another one just to pick their brain and see what's out there, especially if - and a lot of people don't know or don't like to think about it - but accounting is very much like the medical field in that you have general practitioners, then you have expertise in certain areas. So not every accountant is a tax accountant. And so if you have a more of a general, call it a GP accountant, then there's nothing wrong with going out and speaking to a tax accountant or a tax lawyer to pick their brains. But yes, you had asked me about corporations and the benefits of them.
Jason Pisesky: [00:10:33] So say, yeah, you've reached the point where you're earning a certain amount and you're not spending it all. So keeping it in the corporation leads to what I call tax deferral, where you pay a low level of corporate tax, lower than you would pay if you just earned it all personally. So for the first generally call it $500,000, it depends which province you're in, but generally, for the first $500,000, you'll pay a tax rate, again, province dependent, kind of in the range of 12 to 13% or 11, maybe 11 to 15% on that first $500,000 in the company that's left behind after you take salary and dividends. And then after that, it kind of goes up to about, you know, the 23 to 25% range. So, and it doesn't take very much as an individual taxpayer to kind of get up, definitely to get above 13% basically, once you're past your personal credit limit, you're kind of into the 25% range. And then, of course, even comparing to the 23%, it doesn't take much to get above that as an individual for every marginal dollar you earn. So that's the benefit there. You build up that pool of income, lower-taxed income. Of course, if you take it all out, you pay a tax rate that is meant to approximate had all of the money been earned by the individual.
Jason Pisesky: [00:11:52] So don't be afraid of, well, what if I am going to yeah, I'm going to be banking an extra 1 or $200,000 in my PC. But what if I need it? Then I'm going to take it out and I'm going to pay personal tax and I'm going to be behind the eight ball? No, generally the system is set up, we call it integration in Canada, where the idea is on the flow through of money, you should end up at the same place as if you'd earned it personally. So all that is to say is when you take the dividends out to recoup the money left behind, you pay a lower rate of tax than you would have if you would just earned a salary on that amount. So the net amount, it's not always perfect, but generally you end up at the same spot if you just kind of flow the money out of the corporation. So you're not, certainly not penalized for having a corporation, but I do hear stories of professionals that have just take all the money out. And so really, you're just paying professional fees and accounting bills and these things to keep the corporation running, but you're not getting the benefit of it.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:12:46] Right. So I guess the conventional wisdom is stuff as much in the PC as possible and then pay you as yourself the least amount. And then just invest, invest, invest, right, within the corp and then you pay the tax when you take it out, when you retire, so to speak. Right? So but is there a reason not to just put all the money, all the investments inside the PC? That it may not be wise?
Jason Pisesky: [00:13:13] Definitely. And so PCs are like any corporation. If the PC gets sued, its assets are subject to potential creditors of the PC. So definitely it depends, of course, what field you're in and what you feel your risk of, you know, getting sued, malpractice suit are. Obviously higher in some fields than others. And so in a perfect world, you'd kind of move those investments from the PC earning it into a sister corporation, one that's kind of beside it or a Holdco. It's above it, again, that's province dependent which structure will work best for you. The idea is, is you want to kind of strip those assets out to the side. You can do that in a way generally that you shouldn't be paying income tax on it. Then you set it up in a side corporation and then if the PC gets sued, what does it have? It has its medical license and maybe a couple pieces of equipment and a laptop. That's kind of all you really want exposed in the PC. That said, again, without the shield, the individual, the professional is usually the same thing as the PC. So that's why a lot of professionals, they will like to set up an investment company under their spouse's name, shuffle everything over there to the best you can, and have kind of the growth in the investments grow in the spouse's name who of course should not be sued if you as the professional are.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:14:30] Now so that itself when we cover this thing at the Toronto live conference, a lot of people said, really, I've never heard of it. So lots of people stock everything, real estate, stocks, everything portfolio, everything under the PC. And they never heard of a whole course of how they do that. Can you move money over there tax-free, like you know, it's so confusing for a lot of people. So at what stage should a physician or a professional, right, that say, hey, okay, I'm building up some assets, at what time is it wise to set up a Holdco system under the spouse's name?
Jason Pisesky: [00:15:06] Yeah, I'd say once you kind of reach, maybe that - I mean there's no magic number, of course - but once you reach that kind of autopilot moment where, you know, you're married, you've got the house, the kids, are kind of looked after, you've got some college funds set up and you just know like, yeah, every year I've got a certain amount that's going to kind of go there. You know, there's no big renovation bills that we expect to come. We've got new cars. Um, you have to wait till all those things. But it's that point in time where you're just you're starting to every year accumulate a material amount of extra things in the PC, things being investments. Don't collect other things in the PC.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:15:41] For example, don't collect, what, cabins?
Jason Pisesky: [00:15:44] Yeah. Cabins in the woods and, you know, a little hobby plane. And generally I would say don't collect those personal use items in the PC. It just kind of leads to a headache. And then if you're using it, you have to charge yourself for its use and without having shareholder benefits and it kind of becomes a mess. So that's definitely a tax hack. Don't have personal items in your corporation's, general advice, even like, Oh, but I'm saving the tax because don't have to take it out personally. But again you have to charge yourself, they're huge audit red flags, CRA loves to go after those things. You know, the company owns a plane and it's not running an airline. And so, you know, have you been charging yourself for the use of that plane every year and all of a sudden you find yourself with penalties and interest. So, generally there are more tax efficient ways to get money out of the corporation, buy the plane, do it outside than to keep it in there and maybe keep it simple. But setting yourself up for a headache down the line. Yeah. The idea is, you know, once you're kind of you're starting to accumulate, you know, into the six figures, maybe approaching seven figures - and again, it depends what field you're in. If you're in a field where maybe you feel, hey, one slip of the scalpel and I'm going to be sued for everything I own, then maybe it's more prudent to be more aggressive on stripping things out of the PC early on. If you feel you're in a relatively peaceful practice where the odds of something going horrifically wrong are lower, then again, maybe you can let it build up a little longer because then you don't have to, you know, incur the professional fees to set up the structure and peel things off to the side.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:17:12] Well, for most practicing professionals in Canada, we have this thing called CMPA, the Canadian Medical Protective Association. So I don't know the ceiling, but most of the malpractice suits are covered by them. But other liabilities, if you have a clinic, somebody slip outside that is not, your CMPA ain't going to cover that. Right? Especially for those who stuff all the real estate condos and all that inside the PC. They definitely can sue your PC, right? And that's when you say that it's better to strip those assets outside of your PC and into a sister court, right?
Jason Pisesky: [00:17:48] Yeah. And without the risk of maybe getting into too much detail, it probably never hurts to really early on set up a side sister corporation to do the investment, again under a spouse's name, because you can always move some assets over without doing more complex steps. Because the professional will probably generally always be exposed to the initial earnings. You know, you earn an extra 100 grand. There's kind of a sort of gifting it to your spouse, which can lead to other problems, that hundred grand is always in your head. What you want to move is the growth. Over a 30 year career, that 100 grand is going to turn into, what, a multiple of 16 or 20? I don't know what, you know, your standard investment advisor will tell you that'll turn into over a career, but what you want to move over is that growth over to the spouse. So yeah, you can just have the PC loan it over to that sister corp. Sister corps invests it and the benefit goes to the spouse and then that initial $100,000 is at risk. And then again, there's a way to kind of clean that up down the line with some tax planning.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:18:46] Right now, let me just dovetail on that. So there are people who advise that, oh, for some provinces at least, the spouse can be inside a PC. So should the spouse be, if the spouse has a Holdco on the outside, should the spouse be still part of the PC?
Jason Pisesky: [00:19:01] I would say generally, yes. If there's always a personal element to it, you never want the tax to, uh, to put the tax cart before the wagon for the horse. Sorry. But all else being equal, it definitely doesn't hurt to have the spouse in there. Yes, there are income splitting rules, which can mean maybe there's no immediate benefit to it, but if there's ever a sale of the company, then certainly there can be benefits to having that spouse be a shareholder. There may be ways, some tax planning available to, you know, get the spouse some income and some benefits without falling afoul of those income splitting rules. And kind of a third reason is, oh it's jumped out of my head. Sorry.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:19:46] Well while you are thinking...
Jason Pisesky: [00:19:49] Future sale annual. Oh, and once - sorry - once you reach the retirement age, 64 or 65, then you can income split with that spouse out of the company. So, playing the long game and they kind of need to have to accrued value. You can't just add them as a shareholder when you're 64 or 65, you know, they have to build up value and you only do that by having them be a shareholder for a long period of time.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:20:11] Right. So while you're on that topic, I think we should spend a couple, maybe a minute on tax on split income, but as of 2017, CRA has a much stricter definition and a lot of people fall in traps to that. So can you highlight a few of those things for us so that we get a good reminder slap on the upside of the head?
Jason Pisesky: [00:20:31] Yeah. And it's probably just, I'll give kind of a broad overview of the rules and that's maybe as far as we'll go because they're, yeah, I mean they could... I've given whole day, you know, eight-hour courses on TOSI before.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:20:42] No not that, not that.
Jason Pisesky: [00:20:44] Yeah. They are a thing on their own. So the idea of TOSI is, is that again what was happening in the market was people were adding, you know, their spouses, kids, nieces, nephews to corporations and paying them dividends. And then over the age of majority, there used to be rules blocking it for minors, and then basically just expanded those rules. So the idea is, is that they don't want people who are related to the main business person driving the business in the company, to get kind of, to pull out money from the company as dividends if they aren't also involved in the business. That's kind of the most simple explanation of the TOSI rules. We call it tax on split income, with split income being the bad type of income that's being split. So yeah, what will happen is people will, well what was happening is you'd have your spouse and your university-age kids as shareholders of the PC and then, you know, you're paying out dividends to them, you know, to a spouse who was probably a little bit more maybe, you know, 2, 300 grand to use up all of their lower brackets. But, you know, I think that would save you about $40,000 in tax if that all went to the professional spouse earning income at the highest bracket, probably a little lower, maybe just tuition fees plus some living expenses for the university kid.
Jason Pisesky: [00:21:56] But that's kind of all been cut off now. So you'd have to either have them be kind of getting capital gains or kind of wait for a sale to get the advantage, although that's kind of a good dovetail into sometimes you actually don't want your spouse to be a shareholder. If your spouse is a professional doing their own thing or they have their own company, you may not want them to be a shareholder because that may, if you both have your own corporation doing your own thing, you'll both get your own small business deduction. That first 500,000 that's taxable at that relatively low rate, low teens. But if you start to have each person being a shareholder in the other one's company, then you can, you'll have to share that 500,000 limit. And so again, very personal decision, not just are you comfortable with your spouse being a shareholder, the non-voting shareholder in your PC?
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:22:51] So let me highlight this thing. The tax hacks is not just what to do, but what not to do. Right? So I think the takeaway is don't pay your spouse a dividend that is not commensurate with what they actually working, their actual contribution. Right? And my accountant says he has seen a lot of the clients, like you say, pay the spouse a few hundred thousand dollars without even showing up at the clinic at all. And those would be dinged. Right? It just pays tons of money to the kids under the age 25, and that's why it cuts off at 25, right below 25. You should not do the dividend to your kids, right?
Jason Pisesky: [00:23:31] Yeah. And then, but again, hack tax, salary. You should be able to pay a reasonable salary to your spouse as long as there's some justification for it. If they're doing the bookkeeping, if they're helping doing some of the admin side of the practice, usually accountants will feel comfortable kind of 40, 60,000. And honestly, that soaks up most of the benefit for the income splitting. You don't, again going up to the I think it's like 340, 350,000 to get to the top bracket. Yeah, 80% of that benefit comes from paying someone you know under a hundred grand kind of thing is where all that income splitting benefit comes from, getting their personal tax credit and using the 25% tax bracket instead of the up into the high 40s or low 50s. So yeah, salary, it's just subject to a reasonableness test as opposed to the TOSI rules which are much more explicit and bright-line tests that are much easier for them to attack. You also have to, again, you have to kind of have really good records to feel, for your accountant to feel comfortable wading into the TOSI realm of dividends and are they justified, whereas salary, it's a reasonableness test. Your downside is just denial of the deduction in the company, whereas for TOSI your downside is kind of high rate income for the individual and you've already paid the tax in the company because dividends are paid by after-tax money. So you've already given up that.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:24:50] So to recap, so this hack is if you want an income split with your spouse and your kids, then pay them a salary instead of a dividend. But does it, is it...?
Jason Pisesky: [00:25:01] Basically find a way to feel like you can fit into the salary rules which are generally more lenient and well-established. The problem is also TOSI is, you said 2017, there's no court cases on it. There's a million conflicting CRA opinions on it. Whereas you know, the reasonability of deductions for salary and things, tons of cases, really well-established rules. They've been around for decades and decades. So yeah, we kind of, we know how to guide you through those rules a lot better, right? You don't want to be the first person in Canada to go to court on the TOSI rules.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:25:33] Don't want to be the famous one.
Jason Pisesky: [00:25:34] That's the tax act. Try to not be the first person in court on a specific issue.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:25:38] Right. Have your name on this, the state versus you. Okay.
Jason Pisesky: [00:25:42] Yeah, be referenced as that case going forward forever. Yeah. It's great if it works, it's great if it works, then you're known as, you know, that case becomes your calling card. But.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:25:53] Right. Let's pivot a little bit to talk about, since we're on the topic of salary versus dividend, T4 versus T5. Right? So there are a lot of strategies, right? Some are conflicting. Some say, okay, do nothing but T5 to draw dividend. But then there's some strategies like RSP and IPPs, you need a T4 to build a route. So can you highlight T4 versus T5 salary versus dividends? What's the pros and cons?
Jason Pisesky: [00:26:19] Yeah. And so this is a great one where, kind of circling back to that hack about, again, having someone to help explain this to you every year, because it will be an annual decision, especially if you're sending some T4 salary income to a spouse. Again, figuring out what the right mix is for your family. So as I said at one point, kind of that concept of integration in Canada where we, you know, the government wants you to be indifferent for earning that dollar through the corporation or personally. So if you earn $100,000 in the PC and you pay $100,000 salary, well, you get a deduction in the company for $100,000, and then the person pays the personal tax. Dividend, if you earn $100,000, the company pays corporate tax on it and then it uses the residual and pays a dividend and you kind of end up at the same spot. So the big one is, is for T4 income, you're going to be subject to CPP. There's a related party exception for EI, there's not for CPP, so you're going to have to pay the employer and personal half of the CPP. So that's just a kind of a little bit of leakage, tax leakage.
Jason Pisesky: [00:27:25] At the same time, you do gain access to the RSP, the individual pension plan, IPP. I believe that's going to be talked about in a later webinar, Wing, so I won't dive into that. Plus, it's very, again, you get a whole day course on IPPs if you so wish and all the modelling and that goes into those. So it's a personal decision. It's an annual decision. There's no right answer to, you know, I can't tell you oh, you always take this. I think it depends on what you value. Some people really value RRSPs and IPPs and building up those kind of after-tax pools that they'll take out later in retirement. Some people will say, you know what, I want all my money tax paid. I want to know I can access it at any point in time. And that's what they value. And so, but there are definitely things to consider, and it's not just a well, just I'll just do this one because someone told me to do that one. It's, it warrants consideration every year. Yeah.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:28:21] Right on. Okay. So let's move over to a couple more topics or strategies. So what about this trust, family trust and whatnot? We're thinking of a retirement or upon death or the corporate assets would be deemed disposed. Right? So and it may not be free from liabilities. So what about trust, family trust? Is there still a place in it because the government was trying to castrate it? Up to 2017.
Jason Pisesky: [00:28:50] Absolutely. Trusts were definitely one of the things targeted in those 2017 new anti-income splitting rules. That said, I still think there's a strong place for them in kind of a well-rounded, high-net-worth family plan. I am in the process of settling a handful of them and I do tens of them every year, I help people set them up because they absolutely do. As with a lot of things you don't always want, again, tax to drive the conversation. So trusts are great, they do offer again another layer of creditor protection. They allow you to introduce people to the ownership structure without actually giving them direct legal rights over shares, which may lead to oppression remedies in court and, you know, entitlement to financial statements and rights to vote on certain things, even if they're non-voting shares. You kind of cut all that out with the trust. And you also don't have to, they're kind of maybe shareholders when they're through the trust, right? Maybe they'll get a dividend, maybe they won't. Maybe you'll transfer shares out of the trust to them, maybe you won't. So that flexibility is what a lot of people are interested in the trust. The two big ones for tax are again, flowing dividends out, generally not going to lead to much tax advantage in a trust. The big ones are a potential sale. What might we be able to sell in the future? Then the capital gains deduction, that's the tax-sheltered, you know, almost $1 million right now.
Jason Pisesky: [00:30:13] You might be able to access the beneficiaries of the trusts' capital gains deductions and shelter several millions of dollars using those. You may also be able to do some planning with the trust to flow out some type of income. Generally involves more steps, a lot of prep work involved, but there can be advantages to that. And then you also have the advantage to, in the future, transfer shares to the individuals. We talk about this a lot in some other industries. Farming is a big one where, okay, you now know who the farming kids are. You can transfer shares to them. Probably not as pertinent that one for medical professionals. But at the same time, a family trust can help you avoid some estate tax, depending on when the family trust is put in your life. Of course, when an individual dies, they're deemed to dispose of all their capital property, which can result in a capital gain. The family trust outlives the creator's death. And so that can be avoided depending on when the family trust is put into place. So there's lots of advantages, many of them non-tax, many of them tax. So, and again, it depends which province you're in too, and who is allowed to be a beneficiary of a trust. So very personalized decision.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:31:23] Right. So trusts are definitely a very valid tool. It has to be customized to your needs. But then I think most are only what, 21 years, the lifespan of a trust?
Jason Pisesky: [00:31:35] So a trust can live, they can they can outlive 21 years. And so like, I think BC has a hard 80-year rule maximum. Many of the other provinces again it's 21 years past everyone who's kind of involved in the trust be them the creator, the trustee or the beneficiary. So that can be your longest-lived person, is one years old and they live to 90. You get another 111 years, kind of, it's how long a trust. For tax purposes, so I said that rule of, hey, when you die, you're deemed to dispose of all your property. Parliament wised up pretty quickly to the fact that trusts they could live for 100 years. We don't like that. And so they decided on 21 years, which is, you know, about the span of a generation, maybe not so much when families are getting created a little bit later in life now, but the idea that trusts live for 21 years and then they also go through a deemed death, dispose of all their property, and then they can continue on for another 21 years, do the same thing. So in tax conversations we generally say trusts, yes, they live for 21 years because at that point you're going to have to decide should we do a tax-deferred rollout of the property to the people? Should we eat the tax bill and keep it in there? Should we do some other planning to manage this event that happens in 21 years? So I'd say rule of thumb, I don't see many trusts outliving 21 years. So yeah, 21 years is kind of your starting point for looking at a trust.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:32:57] Right. And then at what point, like would a practicing professional contemplate, Wow, this is I've got a PC, I've got my sister Holdco, at what point should they contemplate on family trust?
Jason Pisesky: [00:33:10] So the benefit of the family trust is accruing value into other people's hands. So I'd say for a medical professional, you don't want to start it too early, I guess is the thing. You don't want to, you know, get out of med school in your late 20s or early 30s and then settle it and then your 21 years happens kind of around 50 when maybe you're still practicing. And so probably maybe five, ten years into your career, maybe even 15. Once you're established, you know what field you're working in. You have your clinic or, you know, your kind of day-to-day routines and where your money's coming from. And that's when you, again, you'll have that growing investment pool and you can do more of the setting up the structure in the right spots. And just because yeah, the succession planning piece isn't as much, generally you're not going to have a kid take over your PC. Maybe it'll happen. Not impossible, but not the same way you have, you know, someone who's running the general store, you know, their kid may take over it, or a farm, where again, it's that succession planning piece and then maybe you where a sale is possible, you kind of want it in as early as possible.
Jason Pisesky: [00:34:11] So if we have, you know, professionals here who are in a field where they think, hey, I may be able to sell this within 21 years, that's the other concern. So if you're just looking at building it up and trying to get into retirement with it, yeah, a little later in life. If you're in a field where you think I may be selling this corporation, earlier is better. Dentists in particular sell their practices quite a bit. We're seeing it more and more in other medical professions as they start to consolidate debt. People are buying medical PCs and dental PCs. And so if you feel that is a game plan for you, then earlier is better because you can then grow more value into the family trust. Which is the ultimate goal: to shift as much value out of your hands into the trust hands.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:34:59] Wow. Okay. So there's a lot there. So now I'm aware of the time. So one last thing I want to go back to a few times you mentioned this lifetime capital gains exemption, and I know a lot of my colleagues have never heard of this phrase. So can you expound on that a little bit? And how much, what close to a million, like, and how do we take advantage of it?
Jason Pisesky: [00:35:17] Sure. So the lifetime capital gains exemption, the idea being parliament created this thing to incentivize people to start and grow businesses in Canada. If you do that, you can sell the shares and if certain conditions are met, you get shelter on the first portion of the capital gains. Currently, it's $971,000. It's indexed to inflation. So it kind of goes up call it 15, $20,000 a year. So it'll be over a million if not next year, the year after. And so that'll save you in the realm of $240,000 in tax for everybody who can claim it. So again, if you're the only shareholder of your company and you sell and there's a $5 million gain, you're going to have, you know, shelter on the first million, call it, and then 4 million subject to full rate capital gains tax of, you know, in the realm of 25%. Depending on your province. Whereas if you have a family, if you have a spouse who's a shareholder, that's great. You got two cracks at it. If you've got a family trust with some kids in it, maybe you've got 3, 4 or 5 cracks at the capital gains deduction. And so the conditions that need to be met for it, there's three. Again, without diving into too much detail, there's the you have to own the corporation for, no unrelated person can own the shares for a 2 year period 24 months before the sale. For the 24 months before the sale, more than 50% of the assets have to be used actively in the business carried on in Canada. And then at the time of sale, it has to be 90% pure. So 50% for the two years before, 90% at time of sale.
Jason Pisesky: [00:36:55] And so that's another benefit of either having a side investment corp or a family trust. They can help you take money out of the PC to keep it pure is generally the word used in tax. Purification, removing these surplus extra assets, cash, investment portfolios. Again, if you don't listen to my advice, your cottage and your - what else did I say - your plane, putting them somewhere else so that when time of sale comes, you don't have to do a bunch of extra steps. You're already pure, you know you're good on that 50% test. I have seen people skating very close to the 50% test, and it kind of comes down to what was that investment worth on that date? Okay, we're good. We're good on the 50% test. You don't want that stress. So moving assets somewhere else helps you meet those tests. And then, yeah, you get that big benefit if you get the sale, which again, I think is becoming more and more common. So.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:37:46] Yeah. I think the take-home message is don't, you got to think of this ahead of time. Because I have friends who got caught or partners got caught, they want to retire this year, they have a sale. Somebody, be lucky enough somebody would buy them out, oh they didn't purify the 90/10 rule. Right? And they didn't do the 50/50 rule, T-24 months. Right? They didn't do it. So they kiss that money away, right? That tax exemption. Right? So yeah.
Jason Pisesky: [00:38:12] Yeah. No. And again, circling back to that initial point that I said is one of the most key is, again surrounding yourself with people that you trust. And that's kind of the point of this whole group, right, is having that network of people who have your back so you can go do what you're good at to earn money. Because I've also had clients come to me and say, Hey, I've got a, you know, I've got a pharmacy, I've got someone's coming in and offering me, you know, 8 million bucks for my couple of pharmacies. And that's great. I've heard a lot about these family trusts. I've got young kids. Can I put a family trust in? It's like, well, no, it's too late, you have to put the family trust in earlier so value grows in the family trust. And so, like with many of these plans, the, you know, it's sowing seeds. The benefits come earlier sometimes, like the case with the trust there's quite literally nothing we can do. Passage of time, I can't go back in time and put it in place. Some of these, the purifications, there are steps that can be done. It's just more expensive and time-consuming if we're able to do it to kind of get you back on side to meet that 90% test. If you're floating around like 50%, then it's quite a bit of work to get you to 90. So if you're, if you've done a good job and you're at 85%, then boom, nice and easy to get you to 90, you know, one small dividend and you're on side and off you go and you sell and you get your big benefit.
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:39:27] Right on. Okay. I think Kevin is bringing the big stick. We can go on for hours. But this...
Dr. Kevin Mailo: [00:39:32] So a huge thanks to Jason for being here this evening. You know, every time we have you on, every time we, you know, have you speak to our group, there's just more and more information that shakes out. And we're learning very quickly that pretty much the only thing you cannot do, Jason, is travel back in time. But it seems like you're able to do a whole bunch else. So we're so glad to have you participating with Physician Empowerment because this is what Canadian physicians need. They need long-term tax planning that goes far more than just filling up your RSP. So there is one question, though, that I wanted to bring forward here while we, while we're still recording the episode, and then we'll open it up afterwards to the group because we got a big group tonight. The big one is, the question I've got is, what is the net worth level in which a family trust will make sense? Is there any kind of rule of thumb or general guidance?
Jason Pisesky: [00:40:24] No, it is. It is, I think it depends. You've got your two streams of people. You've got your ones who think, hey, I'm going to be able to sell this business, I'm in one of the fields that's getting consolidated or think it's going to be ripe for consolidation or maybe, again, I'm running my own clinic and I've got buildings and these other things that, again, someone's going to want to buy. Then early, early is better as soon as you can kind of viably see like, yeah, I'm on a good trajectory here. Things are established. I've got my necessities looked after. That's when the family trust I think makes sense, when you're, as long as the sale is within 21 years is kind of what you're looking for. Beyond that, if you're looking for more of the kind of family management succession planning tool, again, the goal is to shift as much money into the trust as you can because you can always pull money out of the trust yourself too. Well, it depends which province you're in and yadda yadda. Some of them, the only beneficiary of the trust can be children.
Jason Pisesky: [00:41:20] And so again, that needs to be something you're prepared for if you're in a province where the rule is only children, you have to make sure that you've left enough shares in your hand that you'll continue to be able to pull out dividends and accrue value. So unfortunately, no direct rule of thumb, it is how am I going to use this? Who are my beneficiaries? How many kids do I have? Do I have no kids? What are the rules in my province around who's allowed to be in this trust? Can I have companies be our beneficiaries? If you're in a, if you're in a province where corporations are allowed to be shareholders of a PC or of a trust, you're golden. That's awesome. Some of them are extremely restrictive. So I think would just draw a line for you. And if you think you're going to sell within 21 years, you're a great candidate almost no matter what your net worth is. Past that, it's quite a hodgepodge and you kind of have to sit down and really hash out what the next 21 years look like for you.
Dr. Kevin Mailo: [00:42:13] Okay. So there's a lot there. There's a reason why you're working full time navigating the tax system and we're very grateful. Thank you for your time. For anybody that's struggling with this, because it felt like drinking from the fire hose for me tonight. By all means, reach out to us because this is what we're doing in the master class. We are breaking down all of these topics and we're starting our next hack series coming up next month. But everything's recorded and you have access to our faculty, you have access to Wing for sort of one on one discussions. So with that being said, I think we're going to wrap it up. Wing, do you have any closing comments?
Dr. Wing Lim: [00:42:50] Well, I'm going to say that there's certainly things you should not do with DIY. If you do DIY, you do DYI - you do yourself in. So tax is just one of those. I have people take time off work and do their own books. Like how smart is that, right? You know, but then yeah, so, we're here to empower you, right? It's peer-to-peer empowerment. Empower you to ask smarter questions, to ask your advisors smarter questions, and get smarter advisors for some people. Right? If you have outgrown your advisors and like Jason says, it doesn't hurt to have a second opinion. Right? And so yeah, so little plug is in a couple of weeks time we start a masterclass series. For those of you enrolled, so we'll have faculty members teach this third year of Masterclass. So first year Kevin taught, second year I taught, third year I teach co-teach with the faculty member like Jason, all the other high-level professionals that came and worked with us. Yeah. So and I would love to see all of you at Masterclass if we can. Right? And then we'll break down in different topics and then we'll spend a few months doing that and then we'll do some case studies.
Dr. Kevin Mailo: [00:43:55] Awesome. Thank you again.
Dr. Kevin Mailo: [00:43:58] Thank you so much for listening to the Physician Empowerment podcast. If you're ready to take those next steps in transforming your practice, finances or personal well-being, then come and join us at PhysEmpowerment.ca - P H Y S Empowerment dot ca - to learn more about how we can help. If today's episode resonated with you, I'd really appreciate it if you would share our podcast with a colleague or friend and head over to Apple Podcasts to give us a five-star rating and review. If you've got feedback, questions or suggestions for future episode topics, we'd love to hear from you. If you want to join us and be interviewed and share some of your story, we'd absolutely love that as well. Please send me an email at [email protected]. Thank you again for listening. Bye.