CRA pausing new ‘bare trust’ reporting requirement just days before filing deadline

CRA pausing new ‘bare trust’ reporting requirement just days before filing deadline

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is hitting pause on a new “bare trust” reporting requirement with just a few days remaining before the deadline.

New reporting requirements for such trust arrangements were introduced for the 2024 tax season. Anyone with a bare trust was required to file a T3 tax return form naming the trustees, beneficiaries and settlors of each trust by April 2.

But on Thursday — with four days before the deadline to file — the CRA announced that it would be pausing the reporting measures.

“In recognition that the new reporting requirements for bare trusts have had an unintended impact on Canadians, the Canada Revenue Agency will not require bare trusts to file a T3 … for the 2023 tax year, unless the CRA makes a direct request for these filings,” a statement released by the tax agency said.

John Oakey, a vice president with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, said the government hasn’t done a great job of communicating the changes.

“There’s no advertising from the government saying these are coming. You don’t see an ad on the television. You don’t see ads in magazines,” he said.

“The only way that individuals are really finding out is from advisers, financial institutions … people that are already aware of these rules.”

No definition of ‘bare trust’ in Income Tax Act

There is no definition of a bare trust in the Income Tax Act. The CRA defines a bare trust as “arrangement under which the trustee can reasonably be considered to act as agent for all the beneficiaries under the trust with respect to all dealings with all of the trust’s property.”

Unlike express trusts, where people seek out a lawyer to create a trust, bare trusts can happen almost accidentally — when a parent cosigns a mortgage for a child and becomes partial owner, or when an aging parent puts their kids down as partial owners of their house in anticipation of an impending death.

Oakey said a bare trust could also be something as simple as a shared bank account.

“If I put my name on [my parents’] bank account in order to help them pay their bills, that creates a trust relationship,” he said.

“I have no real control over the asset. I still have to adhere to their wishes. All I’m doing is acting as an agent on their behalf to do whatever they want me to do.”

In those cases, the bare trust does not earn any money for the trustee to report in a given tax year.

Even though Canadians wouldn’t have been taxed on a trust’s value, failure to report being a member of a bare trust could have resulted in a fine of $2,500, or five per cent of the value of all property in the trust, whichever is higher.

The requirement was meant as a way to crack down on tax avoidance. Corporations and wealthy individuals sometimes hold properties in bare trusts so they can avoid paying property transfer taxes. Oakey said the move was also likely an effort to crack down on money laundering.

The CRA said it would be working to “to further clarify its guidance on this filing requirement” over the coming months.

Source link