A number of issues may arise if a shareholder uses a corporate asset personally without providing the corporation with fair market value (FMV) consideration. Barring a special relieving provision of the Act, the shareholder may be subject to a shareholder benefit, essentially resulting in double tax. Another issue that may arise relates to GST/HST. This was considered in the below Court case.

In a September 23, 2016 Tax Court of Canada case, at issue was whether the input tax credits (ITCs) for the corporate purchase of a $310,000 recreational vehicle (RV), which was allegedly used for both corporate and personal purposes, would be permitted. For the periods that the taxpayer conceded that the vehicle was used personally, the shareholder paid $2,000 plus GST/HST per week. The Minister provided evidence from a 3rd party that the average rate for such a vehicle would be between $4,500 and $5,000 per week.

Taxpayer loses

The Court determined that the vehicle was acquired exclusively, or at least primarily, for the shareholder’s personal use. To be eligible for an ITC, an asset must be acquired “for use primarily in commercial activities of the registrant”. As such, the GST/HST paid would not be recoverable as an ITC.

Action Item: Assets acquired for personal use by shareholders should not generally be acquired by the corporation. Significant income tax and GST/HST issues may arise if such assets are held corporately.

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