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Attribution Rules

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Personal Income Tax  ->  Wills and Estates -> Gifts and Inheritances

Attribution Rules re Gifts, Transfers, or Loans to a Spouse or a Related Minor Child

Income Tax Act s 74.1(1), s 74.1(2), s 74.2(1), 74.5(2)

If income-producing property, or money which is used to purchase income-producing property, is transferred or loaned to a related minor, either directly or indirectly, or by means of a trust, the income from the property will normally be attributed back to the person giving the gift or loan.  The capital gains from the property will be considered capital gains of the minor.

A related minor, for purposes of the attribution rules, is a child who is under 18 years old and does not deal with the individual at arm's length, or is a niece or nephew of the individual.

The attribution rules specifically exclude Canada Pension Plan pension split with a spouse from being attributed back to the originating spouse.

When pension splitting is done on a tax return, it is likely that the lower income spouse will have a refund of the income tax deduction that is also split in relation to the pension.  S. 153(2) of the Income Tax Act states that the tax withheld in relation to the split-pension amount is deemed to have been deducted or withheld on account of the pension transferee's tax and not on account of the pensioner's tax.  Thus, the tax refund will not be subject to attribution.

If income-producing property, or money which is used to purchase income-producing property, is transferred or loaned to a spouse, either directly or indirectly, or by means of a trust, the income and capital gains from the property will normally be attributed back to the person giving the gift or loan.  When spouses have a joint investment account, the income from that account should be claimed by each spouse based on their contributions to the account.  If the contributions are made 50% by each spouse, then the split will be 50/50.  It is necessary to have records that will substantiate the contributions by each spouse.  See our information on joint accounts in our article on How to Minimize Probate Fees.

In transfers to a related minor or to a spouse, any income earned from the original income (secondary income) will be considered income of the minor or spouse.  An example would be where dividend-producing shares are transferred to a minor or spouse, and dividends are used to purchase more shares.  The dividends from the additional shares would be income of the minor or spouse.

The attribution rules apply only to property income, not to business income earned from money or business assets transferred.

The attribution rules do not apply to loans where interest is charged at a rate at least equivalent to the specified rate of interest.  See our income splitting article on lending to a lower-income spouse or child.

Canada Revenue Agency Resources

IT511R Interspousal and Certain Other Transfers and Loans of Property (Archived)

Revised: March 13, 2019

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