Principle Residence Changes 2016

On October 3, 2016, the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, announced a major change to the reporting requirements for the sale of a principal residence (“PR”) and the designation of the principal residence exemption (“PRE”), which provides for the tax-free sale of your home. 

A few key points:

  • Starting with the 2016 tax year, you will be required to report basic information (date of acquisition, proceeds of dispositions and description of the property) on your income tax and benefit return when you sell your principal residence (PR) to claim the full principal residence exemption.
  • Previously, the administrative position of the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) was that you were not required to report the sale of your PR if the property was your PR for every year you owned it.
  • The new rules apply for deemed dispositions. A deemed disposition occurs when you are considered to have disposed of property, even though you did not actually sell it. For example, a deemed disposition will occur if there is a change in use of the property:
  1.        You change all or part of your principal residence to a rental or business operation.
  2.        You change your rental or business operation to a principal residence.

When you change the use of a property, you are generally considered to have sold the property at its fair market value and to have immediately reacquired the property for the same amount. You have to report the disposition (and designation) of your principal residence and/or the resulting capital gain or loss (in certain situations) in the year the change of use occurs.

  • If only a part of your home qualifies as your PR and you used the other part to earn or produce income, you may have to split the selling price and the adjusted cost base between the part you used for your principal residence and the part you used for other purposes (for example, rental or business). You can do this by using square meters or the number of rooms, as long as the split is reasonable.
  • If you do not designate the property as your PR for all the years you owned the property (such as where you had sold your cottage in a prior year and claimed the PRE for certain years), you are required to also file Form T2091. 
  • An individual who was not resident in Canada in the year the individual acquired a residence will not—on a disposition of the property after October 2, 2016—be able to claim the exemption for that year. 
  • For the sale of a PR in 2016 or later years, the CRA will only allow the PRE if you report the sale and designation on your tax return. If you fail to report the sale, you will have to ask the CRA to amend your return. Under the proposed changes, the CRA will be able to accept a late designation but a penalty may apply, equal to the lesser of $8,000 and $100 for each month you are late from the original required filing. This is a potentially fairly large penalty for non-compliance. The period of re-assessment will also be extended where a disposition has not been reported. 

 

Information on the changes from Finance: http://www.fin.gc.ca/n16/data/16-117_2-eng.asp

Information on administration changes from CRA: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/bdgt/2016/qa11-eng.html

 

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