The 2018 Fall Economic Statement – some good news for business (December 2018)
While there weren’t a great number of tax measures included in the 2018 Fall Economic Statement brought down by the Minister of Finance on November 21, 2018, the tax changes that were announced represented good news for Canadian businesses.
Perhaps most notably, several of the measures announced include tax changes which will benefit Canadian businesses of all sizes and operating in all sectors of the economy. Generally, those changes involved enhancements to the existing rules which will provide businesses with accelerated write-offs of assets which are acquired after the Budget date.
The Canadian tax system enables taxpayers to deduct (or write off) a specified percentage of the cost of newly-acquired capital property each year, through the capital cost allowance (CCA) system. In the year of acquisition, that deduction is, for most classes of assets, limited to one-half the usual percentage deduction (known as the “half-year rule”). The changes announced in the statement provide businesses with enhanced deductions under the existing capital cost allowance system – in some cases, allowing the entire cost of the property to be deducted in the year it is acquired.
The most broad-based of the changes announced in the statement – the Accelerated Investment Incentive, or AII – will effectively suspend the half-year rule for eligible property, meaning that a full CCA deduction could be taken in the year that eligible property is acquired. In addition, the allowance claimable for that year will be calculated by applying the prescribed CCA rate for that class of property to one-and-a-half times the cost of the property acquired.
For example, the combined effect of those changes is that where a property has a write-off rate of 20% per year, that write off will, under the AII, be equal to 30% of the cost of the property in the year the property is put in use. Significantly, such preferential treatment is not restricted to particular kinds or types of businesses or property. Rather, as stated in the statement, the AII will be available to “businesses of all sizes, across all sectors of the economy, that are making capital investments”. Such property, in order to be fully eligible for the AII, must be acquired and put in use by the taxpayer after November 20, 2018 and before 2024.
The second significant change will allow taxpayers to fully deduct, in the year of acquisition, the cost of machinery and equipment acquired for use in Canada primarily in the manufacturing and processing of goods for sale or lease. Such machinery and equipment, in order to qualify, must be acquired after November 20, 2018, and be available for use before 2024. The enhanced 100% deduction will be phased out for otherwise qualifying property which becomes available for use between 2023 and 2028.
Finally, clean energy equipment acquired by taxpayers in any industry already qualifies for preferential capital cost allowance treatment. That preferential treatment will be enhanced by a measure announced in the Statement which will provide a 100% deduction for such equipment which is acquired after November 20, 2018 and is available for use before 2024. Again, that enhanced deduction will be phased out where the otherwise qualifying property becomes available for use between 2023 and 2028.
While the basics of the three CCA measures announced in the Update are fairly straightforward, the application of those measures, as with any tax change, involves more detailed rules and restrictions. Those rules and restrictions are summarized in an Annex to the 2018 Fall Economic Statement, and that Annex can be found on the Finance Canada website at https://www.budget.gc.ca/fes-eea/2018/docs/statement-enonce/anx03-en.html.