2022 has been a tough year for equity markets, and as the year comes to a close, some may wonder if there's a tax planning silver lining. The answer? It depends. For corporate investment accounts the general tax planning rules do not apply.

Crowe MacKay's tax advisors review tax-loss selling for corporate investment accounts and how its impact can be beneficial or detrimental depending on your organization's situation. If you require assistance, connect with us in Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, or the Yukon.

Tax-loss Selling

Tax-loss selling, sometimes referred to as tax-loss harvesting, is a tax planning strategy. The strategy involves selling investments with accrued losses to offset realized capital gains, ultimately reducing taxes owed at year-end. The current year capital losses are first applied to reduce any gains in the year. Excess capital losses can be carried back to any of the three preceding years or carried forward indefinitely.

Will Tax-loss Selling Lower My Tax Payable?

To understand if tax-loss selling will lower your tax payable, we need to start by reviewing the taxation of capital gains for Canadian Controlled Private Companies. The table below shows a corporation reporting a $100,000 capital gain. The capital gain's inclusion rate is 50%. This means that 50% of the gain is included in taxable income, and the other 50% is non-taxable. Tax is payable on the taxable capital gain and is placed into two buckets: a 10% non-refundable tax and a 15.3% refundable tax.

Refundable Tax

The refundable tax is refunded to the corporation when a taxable dividend is paid from the corporation to the shareholder. The tax is refunded at a rate of $38 for every $100 of dividends paid.

Non-Taxable Gain

The non-taxable gain is credited to the corporation's Capital Dividend Account. The Capital Dividend Account is non-taxable both at the corporate level and the individual level. The Capital Dividend Account is calculated in aggregate, including all realized capital gains and capital losses.Realized capital losses grind the corporation's capital dividend account.
Capital Gain Taxable Capital Gain Non-refundable Tax Refundable Tax Capital Dividend Account
100% 50% 10% 15.3% 50%
$100,000 $50,000 $10,000 $15,300 $50,000

Case Study: The Story of Two Friends


Joey is the shareholder of HYD Co. Joey is busy working on his acting career, and HYD Co. does no year-end tax planning.

Bing Co.

Chandler is the shareholder of Bing Co. Chandler, a proactive self-starter, reads an article about tax-loss selling. Chandler sees how tax-loss selling could apply to Bing Co and triggers $100,000 of realized capital losses before the fiscal year end.

For the purpose of this example, each successful entrepreneur:

  • Realizes a $100,000 capital gain during the year;
  • Holds $100,000 of unrealized losses in their marketable securities portfolio; and
  • Is drawing the after-tax proceeds of the $100,000 gain for personal use.
HYD Co. Bing Co.
Strategy Do nothing Tax loss selling
Capital Gain [A] 100,000 100,000
Taxable Capital Gain 50,000


Tax-loss Selling 0 (50,000)
Corporate Income 50,000 0
Corporate Tax (25,300) 0
Dividend Refund 15,300 0
Corporate Tax Payable [B] (10,000) 0
Capital Dividend Account 50,000 0
Available for Distribution 90,000 100,000
Taxable Dividend to Individual 40,000 100,000
Personal Tax Payable* [C] (19,560) (48,900)
Net Cash to Individual [A] +[B]+[C] 70,440 51,100

*The top marginal personal tax rate on non-eligible dividends in BC in 2022 is 48.9%

In this example, tax-loss selling resulted in $19,340 (~19%) of additional taxes compared to doing nothing. Seller beware.

For corporate investment accounts, the general rules with respect to year-end tax-loss selling do not apply. Taxpayers should review their individual situations with a trusted tax advisor to ensure they maximize their tax opportunities.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.