Update on the Underused Housing Tax (UHT) and the impact on Canadian owners

As discussed in our recent blog, the UHT is intended to apply to underused residential property in Canada owned directly or indirectly and wholly or partly by non-resident, non-Canadians. Under the rules, where there is an excluded owner, the property is not taxable and the owner is not required to file a UHT return. One category of excluded owner are individual Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada (“Canadians”) provided that they own the property directly for their own benefit. Unfortunately, the same isn’t true if these Canadians chose to use a corporation, trust or partnership as part of the ownership structure. For example, if a Canadian owns the shares of a corporation that holds residential properties, the corporation must file a UHT return for each property and report the tax exemption that applies for specified Canadian corporations.

In recent weeks, we have received significant feedback from CPAs and others, and it is becoming clear that there will be a very large number of UHT returns that will be required for ownership structures that qualify for the specified Canadian corporation, specified Canadian trust and specified Canadian partnership exemptions. Also, many are raising concerns where there are Canadian co-owners as they must determine whether a partnership exists. If there is a partnership, a UHT return is required.

We have been communicating with the Canada Revenue Agency and passing on UHT questions since last December. In late February, we reached out to the CRA and other federal government officials and recommended that the federal government waive the requirement to file a 2022 UHT return for affected owners who are exempt from UHT due to the exemptions for specified Canadian corporations, specified Canadian partnerships and specified Canadian trusts.  That is, these owners would continue to be exempt from the tax for 2022 and will not be subject to a failure to file penalty if a return is not filed.

At the time of writing, we had not received a response to our recommendation.

We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.

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