If you have a small business corporation, you may be receiving income in the form of salary or dividends. However, there are other ways of getting money out of a private corporation that may be more tax efficient. Here is a list of the seven most common ways to get money out of your corporation.
If you are an owner/manager, you can pay yourself a salary. The salary is taxable in your hands at your marginal tax rate, but it is deductible by the corporation. This may not seem to make sense: Why would you chose to pay tax at the higher personal rates rather than the small business rates? You should pay yourself enough to generate the maximum RRSP contribution room. Even if you don’t intend to use the RRSP room now, this may be beneficial in later years if you want to make RRSP contributions or if the business wants to establish an individual pension plan or IPP.
In addition, you will also pay into the Canada Pension Plan that allows you to draw on those benefits at retirement.
If your corporations’ income is more than $500,000 or if your company’s earnings are volatile you might want to pay yourself a bonus instead of a salary. The bonus is treated the same as employment income for tax purposes but provides more flexibility in payment.
The bonus may also be used to bring the corporations income below the $500,000 small business deduction limit to maximize the use of the lower tax rates on corporate income.
Dividends are paid from the corporations after tax-income. For most Canadian small business corporations, the dividends paid are ineligible dividends and subject to a 25% gross up and a 13.33% tax credit on the grossed up amount. This gross-up and tax credit system is designed to eliminate double taxation.
4. Payments on Loans From Shareholders
You can invest in a corporation through investments in shares or by lending the company (or any combination). If you lent money to the corporation, the repayment of the principal amount is tax-free.
5. Capital Dividends
Canada only taxes 1/2 of capital gains. When a corporation realizes capital gains, the non-taxable half of the gain is credited to a notional Capital Dividend Account. The balance of the capital dividend account may be paid to the shareholders entirely tax-free.
6. Repayment of Capital
The amount you originally invested in your corporation is credited to an account called paid up capital. The balance of this account can be repaid at any time tax-free. Keep in mind, that doing so may have other tax consequences later on, so speak with your accountant.
7. Loans To Shareholders
I have written about the concept of shareholder loans  in the past. If structured correctly you may be able to extract funds temporarily from your corporation.
If your accountant has not discussed any of these with you, we should talk! Contact me today  to find out how you can maximize your cashflow and pay less tax.