We received a number of submissions from the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Association of Radiologists, and looked at the testimony before the committee.
A few points probably warrant further mention. Obviously from their perspective, it affects doctors, but it is a provision of general application. The small business deduction is available regardless of what business you're in.
As was said earlier, these measures would follow the existing policy where there's one business and one business limit of up to $500,000 that applies to partnerships as well in this context. The rules are called the specified partnership limit rules, and they provide that when you have a partnership with a number of corporate partners, that one limit is shared among the partners. These rules are currently in the act, and the amendments in Bill C-29 are an extension of that policy.
I mentioned as well that it's a provision of general application. As we've heard, it applies to doctors, and it would also apply to lawyers, accountants, dentists, engineers, architects, or any group that could organize themselves into one of these structures. It is not a provision aimed solely at the medical community. It is reinforcing the integrity of the small business deduction rules and the $500,000 limit, and it does not look at what type of business is being carried on.
I know a number of comments were based on numbers. They mention certain numbers. The Department of Finance had others. I believe we have our costing measures, our numbers that we provided in the last hearing. But one thing that had been mentioned I heard earlier was the $32,000 number. I can explain briefly where that came from, but in doing so, I would have to provide a little context into how these rules work, and the sort of planning that is going on.
If an individual earns income directly, they pay taxes at the normal marginal rates, as was said, often around 50%. I think the top marginal rate in the relevant example provided was an Ontario individual, so that would be, I think, 53.53%. If you earn income through a corporation, there's corporate tax. The general corporate tax rate is 15%, and the small business deduction rate is 10.5%. That's federally, obviously. There are provincial taxes on top of that, but I don't want to list them all. We're not neglecting them, but it does make it higher.
Due to the corporate shareholder integration mechanisms in the Income Tax Act, if you earn income in a corporation and then pay it out in the same year, you generally pay the same combined corporate and individual tax rates as if you earned them directly. In the $32,000 case, that was $500,000 of income from Dr. M., and so if they earned it directly or through a corporation, we'd have roughly the same amount of tax in Ontario.
The benefit sought to be obtained is when funds can be retained in the corporation, so there's a lower corporate tax rate, 15% federally, as opposed to a top federal rate of 33%, assuming Bill C-2 is passed, so that's a significant difference.
To the extent those funds are not needed for personal costs of living, maxing out your RRSPs or whatever, to the extent that those funds are available to be left in the corporation and invested, then that presents a deferral benefit if they're not taken out in that year. In the case provided, I think some $214,000 was left in the corporation and the difference between the small business rate and the general corporate rate was calculated at about $32,000, but those are the funds available to be invested and to get the benefit of the one-year deferral, you can invest those funds at around a 5% rate of return, and that might give you, I think, about $1,500 over a year. I think there were comments on that. Then that $1,500 would be taxed, so the actual benefit would be even lower. That's just by way of explaining the differences in the numbers.
It looks at the benefit, at where you take the computation. Do you look at the dollars available to be retained in the corporation or do you look at the actual value of the deferral benefit?
I hope that provides some more context into where some of these numbers are coming from and the planning itself. It really involves the ability of particularly professionals, such as lawyers and so on, to leave their excess funds in their corporations and to invest them to earn an enhanced yield. If you're earning income directly and you're a top-rate taxpayer, taxed at 53% in Ontario, and then you earn $100—your last $100 subject to the top rate—you'd have $46 or $47 available to invest. If you earn it in a corporation and the corporation pays tax at 20%, say, you'd have $80 to invest. That's a good head start.
That's the benefit of the deferral, and that, of course, is not being touched, the general difference between the general corporate rate and the personal rate. It just provides some context into the nature of the benefit and the differences in the numbers.
To kind of tie it all together, those benefits will continue. What will be preserved is the general policy underlying the small business limit, which is to say that one business, either a sole business in a corporation or a partnership, has one $500,000 deduction, and that can't be, to use our phrase, just multiplied. If you have one partnership, you have one $500,000 limit; if you have 10 partners, that could be $5 million or $5.5 million; 100 partners would be $50 million, and so on.
I understand there were questions about the use of the word “multiplication” as well. That's the sense in which the term was used in the Department of Finance documents.