There are a number of persons besides Canadian registered charities and non-profit organizations that have special tax-exempt status under the federal Income Tax Act (Canada) (the “Act”). These persons are listed in a section of the Act called “miscellaneous exemptions.” It is interesting to note that the list includes natural persons (such as certain officers or servants of governments of a country other than Canada and members of their families), corporations, and several other special entities, such as different types of trusts. Even though no federal income tax is payable by these persons, they must complete and file certain documents with the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) on an annual basis.

This article focuses on the basic filing requirements of the corporations that are listed in this section of the Act. These corporations may include the following:

  • Corporations owned by the Crown (wholly-owned or in some cases 90% owned by the Crown);
  • Certain agricultural organizations, boards of trade, and chambers of commerce;
  • Certain labour organizations;
  • Housing companies;
  • Insurers of farmers and fishermen;
  • Mutual insurance corporations;
  • Non-profit corporations for scientific research and experimental development;
  • Pension corporations;
  • Prescribed small business investment corporations; and
  • Registered Canadian amateur athletic associations.

According to CRA, all tax-exempt corporations must complete and file a T2 Corporation Income Tax Return every year and attach certain schedules to their T2 Return. CRA provides that the only tax-exempt corporations that do not have to comply with this requirement are Crown corporations, Hutterite colonies, and Canadian registered charities. The minimum schedules that are required to be submitted to CRA with the T2 Return are as follows:

  • GIFI Schedule 100 (this schedule is called the “Balance Sheet Information”; it shows the corporation’s financial position at the end of the particular taxation year); and
  • GIFI Schedule 141 (this schedule is a “Notes Checklist” that identifies the person who prepared the financial statements for the corporation and contains other similar information).

Notably, these tax-exempt corporations do not need to file separate financial statements in addition to the above listed schedules. If a corporation is an active corporation, and it has completed any transactions during the year, it must also attach the following schedule:

  • GIFI Schedule 125 (this schedule is called the “Income Statement Information”; it shows any income generated and expenses incurred by the corporation during the particular taxation year).

CRA has indicated that corporations that are inactive often still file the GIFI Schedule 125 and do not list any amounts; thus, it is possible that CRA may ask an inactive corporation to complete and file this schedule.

In addition to the above, there is a list of questions on page 2 of the T2 Return (a copy of which can be found here and if the corporation answers “yes” to any of the questions on this page, the corporation must file the corresponding additional schedules.

Finally, a corporation that is tax-exempt under the Act and that meets all of the criteria below can complete a Short T2 Return (a 3-page return), rather than the normal 8-page T2 Return. The corporation will still need to file the Balance Sheet Information schedule, the Notes Checklist, and any other applicable Schedules including possibly the Income Statement Information. In order to qualify to file a Short T2 Return, a corporation must:

  • have a permanent establishment in only one province or territory;
  • not be claiming any refundable tax credits (other than a refund of instalments paid);
  • not receive or pay out any taxable dividends;
  • report in Canadian currency;
  • not have an Ontario transitional tax debit; and
  • not have an amount calculated under section 34.2 of the Act.

Should you require assistance determining whether a corporation may be exempt from income tax under the Act, or to ensure that you understand a tax-exempt corporation’s annual filing requirements, please contact a lawyer in our Charities and Not-for-Profit Group.