How do non-residents who buy rental real estate in Canada ensure they are tax efficient?
There is a 5% federal goods and services tax (GST) charged on the purchase on rental property. This tax can be refunded if registered for GST. In addition, tax withholdings on rental income can be as high as 25% of the gross rental income. However, this rate can be significantly reduced, if certain forms are completed and filed by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
GST is collected on the sale unless a non-resident is registered for a GST account. A GST account has to be setup prior to completion of the sale or else the tax is collected. However, if a non-resident obtains a GST account after the purchase with an effective date prior to the purchase date, the non-resident can still claim a refund for the GST paid. See International Faq #24 for more information.
The non-resident will need to apply for a Canadian tax identification number. This number is required to file Canadian tax returns. In addition, if taxes are withheld on rental payments, the non-resident will want to provide this number so when the withholdings are remitted to CRA by the withholding agent, CRA knows who the withholdings are from.
An election form NR6 Undertaking to File an Income Tax Return by a Non-Resident Receiving Rent from Real Property can be filed in order to reduce taxes from being withheld on gross rental income to being withheld on net rental income. The NR6 election not only has to be signed by the non-resident, but also the Canadian paying the rental income. By signing the NR6, the Canadian resident renter is accepting responsibility for any taxes owing if the non-resident fails to file its Canadian income tax return. Therefore, unless the Canadian knows and trusts the non-resident, the Canadian resident is unlikely to take on this responsibility.
If taxes are withheld, the non-resident will receive a NR4 statement of amounts paid or credited to non-resident. A non-resident can elect to file a Canadian income tax return under section 216 even if it has not filed a NR6. The non-resident will be taxed on the net rental income and can claim the taxes withheld as reported on the NR4. Any excess taxes withheld will be refunded to the non-resident.
Angela Hardbattle, Dipl. T (Hons), CPA, CA
Manager, Gilmour Group CPA’s
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