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What is a Dividend Tax Credit?

As a financial analyst, one of the most frequent topics of discussion with clients revolves around understanding the taxation system, especially the Dividend Tax Credit. This tax mechanism, especially beneficial for Canadian residents, might seem complex at first, but it holds significant implications for tax planning and investment strategies.

Dividend Tax Credit: Meaning and Relevance

In simple terms, the Dividend Tax Credit is the amount that a Canadian resident applies against their tax liability on the grossed up portion of dividends received from Canadian corporations. It's crucial to remember that this mechanism aims to avoid the double taxation of dividends, a common issue faced by investors.

Primarily, the Dividend Tax Credit operates within Canada, aiming to eliminate tax liability for eligible dividends. These eligible dividends could come from a variety of sources, including public corporations, foreign-owned companies operating in Canada, and many privately owned firms.

The Mechanics of the Dividend Tax Credit

The process of applying the Dividend Tax Credit involves specific steps designed to reflect the gross dividend amount before the deduction of corporate taxes. This phase is referred to as “grossing up” the dividend amount, and it impacts the individual taxpayer’s taxable income by increasing it correspondingly. The rate of gross up fluctuates and is contingent on the applicable corporate taxes for that fiscal year.

Despite the increase in taxable income due to the grossing up, the Dividend Tax Credit, calculated based on the net dividend received by the individual, reduces the tax liability on a dollar-for-dollar basis. This reduction means that even though the individual's taxable income was "grossed up," the credit is larger than the tax due on the dividend, effectively nullifying the entire dividend from the individual's taxes.

It’s essential to note that dividends from companies taxed at a small-business tax rate, which is typically more advantageous than the general business tax rate, are not eligible for the Dividend Tax Credit.

Applying the Dividend Tax Credit

Canadian residents can claim the Dividend Tax Credit against their tax liabilities on the "grossed up" portion of dividends they receive from Canadian corporations. This aspect of tax credits is pertinent only to individuals and does not apply to corporations.

In the context of this tax credit, it's also necessary to factor in both federal and provincial tax credits. As of 2018, the eligible dividends an individual receives from Canadian corporations are "grossed up" by 38%. However, for dividends to officially be recognized as eligible dividends, they have to be designated as such by the company paying the dividend.

The Dividend Tax Credit as a Strategic Tool

The Dividend Tax Credit serves as a potent financial tool, enabling Canadian citizens to offset their taxes on dividends received from eligible companies. It provides a fair tax environment by mitigating the double taxation of dividends, fostering a more attractive investment landscape.

As an individual investor or a financial professional, understanding the ins and outs of the Dividend Tax Credit is imperative. By strategically applying this mechanism, it's possible to optimize tax liabilities and potentially enhance overall investment returns.

Remember, the tax landscape is subject to changes, and it's essential to stay updated on current tax laws and rates. Partnering with a financial advisor or tax professional can provide the insights and guidance necessary to navigate the complexities of the Dividend Tax Credit and other similar tax strategies.


In Canada, the dividend tax credit eliminates tax liability for eligible dividends.

Eligible dividends can come from public companies, foreign-owned companies operating in Canada, and many privately owned companies. It allows Canadian citizens to avoid having their dividends double-taxed. Canada offers a dividend tax credit that allows investors to eliminate their taxes on dividends paid from eligible companies.

The equation for applying the credit involves steps that are intended to mimic the gross dividend amount before corporate taxes were originally taken out of it. This step is called “grossing up” the dividend amount, and the individual taxpayer’s taxable income amount is upped along with it. The amount of the gross up depends on the corporate taxes applicable in that year.

The credit, based on the net dividend received by the individual, reduces their taxes dollar-for-dollar, and, even though their income was “grossed up,” the credit is larger than the tax rate that is due on the dividend, effectively canceling out the entire dividend from the individual’s taxes.

The dividends are not eligible for the credit if the company is taxed at a small-business tax rate, which is more favorable than the general business tax rate.

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