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Corporate Tax in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or financial advice. For specific advice regarding your corporate tax situation, consult with a qualified professional.

For all your Accounting and Tax needs you can contact BOMCAS Canada Accounting and Tax Services today for all your accounting and tax needs


Corporate tax is an essential aspect of doing business in Canada. All resident corporations, including non-profit organizations, tax-exempt corporations, and inactive corporations, are required to file a corporate income tax (T2) return every tax year, regardless of whether there is any tax payable. This also applies to non-resident corporations that have a taxable presence in Canada. Filing a corporate tax return is crucial for ensuring compliance with Canadian tax laws and avoiding penalties.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the key aspects of filing a corporate tax return in Canada. We will cover topics such as determining your corporation’s tax year, filing requirements, deadlines, payment of tax, allowable capital losses, tax audit process, and more. Let’s dive in!

Determining Your Corporation’s Tax Year

The tax year of a corporation in Canada is typically the fiscal period it has adopted for accounting purposes. It is important to note that the tax year does not have to align with the calendar year. Once a tax year is selected, it cannot be changed without approval from the tax authorities.

Filing Requirements for Resident and Non-Resident Corporations

All resident corporations, except for tax-exempt Crown corporations, Hutterite colonies, and registered charities, are required to file a T2 return every tax year, even if there is no tax payable. This requirement also applies to non-profit organizations, tax-exempt corporations, and inactive corporations. Non-resident corporations must also file a T2 return in certain situations, depending on their taxable presence in Canada.

When to File Your Corporation Income Tax Return

The filing deadline for a corporation’s tax return in Canada is determined by the end of its tax year. Generally, the return must be filed by the last day of the sixth month following the end of the tax year. For example, if a corporation’s tax year-end is December 31st, the filing deadline would be June 30th of the following year.

It is crucial to meet the filing deadline to avoid penalties. Failure to file a tax return on time can result in a penalty of 5% of the unpaid tax at the time of the filing deadline, with additional penalties for each month the return is late.

Getting a Corporation Income Tax (T2) Return

There are several ways to obtain a T2 Corporation Income Tax Return form. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) provides electronic filing options, which are mandatory for certain corporations with annual gross revenues exceeding $1 million. Corporations can also obtain the T2 return form in paper format from the CRA’s website or by contacting their local tax services office.

Completing Your Corporation Income Tax (T2) Return

Preparing and completing a T2 return requires careful attention to detail. The CRA provides a comprehensive guide, Guide T4012, T2 Corporation Income Tax Guide, to assist corporations in understanding the requirements and completing the return accurately. The guide covers various topics, including income, deductions, tax credits, and other relevant information.

When completing the T2 return, corporations must report their income, expenses, and deductions according to the guidelines provided by the CRA. It is essential to keep accurate records and supporting documentation to substantiate the amounts reported on the return.

Where to Send Your Corporation Income Tax (T2) Return

Once the T2 return is completed, it must be submitted to the appropriate tax services office based on the corporation’s location. The CRA provides specific mailing addresses for resident and non-resident corporations on their website. It is crucial to ensure that the return is sent to the correct address to avoid unnecessary delays or complications.

Tax Audit Process

The tax authorities in Canada have the authority to review and assess corporate tax returns. After filing a tax return, corporations may receive an assessment notice from the CRA within a reasonable time. The assessment notice outlines any changes made to the corporation’s income tax return, such as correcting discrepancies or adjusting balances carried forward.

The CRA focuses its audit resources on high-risk taxpayers, with less attention given to lower-risk taxpayers. Large corporations with gross income over CAD 250 million and their affiliates are assigned a large case file team and undergo an annual risk assessment. Medium-sized corporations with gross income between CAD 20 million and CAD 250 million are selected based on a screening process and identified risks. Smaller corporations, typically Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs) with gross income under CAD 20 million, may be subject to compliance or restricted audits based on statistical data and a screening process.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations determines the timeframe within which the tax authorities can reassess a corporation’s tax payable. For non-CCPCs, reassessments may be made within four years from the date of mailing of the original notice of assessment, usually following a detailed field audit. The limitation period is three years for CCPCs. However, the CRA can reassess tax beyond these limits if there has been misrepresentation or fraud.

It is important to note that different time limits may apply for provincial reassessments. Corporations should consult the applicable legislation and seek professional advice to understand the specific rules that apply to their situation.

Appeals Process

If a corporation disagrees with a tax assessment or reassessment, it has the right to appeal. The first step in the appeals process is to file a formal notice of objection within 90 days from the date of mailing of the notice of assessment or reassessment. The notice of objection should include the reasons for the objection and any relevant information.

The CRA will review the notice of objection and either vacate (cancel), amend, or confirm the assessment. If the corporation still disagrees with the CRA’s decision, it has 90 days to appeal to the Tax Court of Canada. Further appeals can be made to the Federal Court of Appeal and, in some cases, the Supreme Court of Canada.

Key Topics of Interest for Tax Authorities

The Canadian tax authorities focus on several key topics when conducting audits and assessing tax compliance. These topics include:

  1. Transfer Pricing: The tax authorities closely examine transfer pricing arrangements, both inbound and outbound, to ensure the accuracy of royalty payments, goods and services transactions, interest rates, management fees, and other related expenses.
  2. Permanent Establishment (PE): Determining whether non-resident corporations have a PE in Canada is an area of interest for tax authorities. PE refers to a fixed place of business through which the corporation carries out its business activities in Canada.
  3. Treaty Shopping: Tax authorities are vigilant in identifying and addressing treaty shopping, which involves arranging transactions to reduce withholding tax and capital gains tax through the exploitation of tax treaties.
  4. Tax Attribute Manipulation: Corporations engaging in surplus stripping, arrangements that manipulate the adjusted cost base of capital assets, or the acquisition of tax losses realized by arm’s-length entities are subject to scrutiny by tax authorities.
  5. Withholding Taxes: Compliance with withholding tax obligations is a focus area for tax authorities. Corporations must withhold and remit taxes on certain payments made to non-residents, such as fees, commissions, or other amounts in respect of services rendered in Canada.

It is essential for corporations to understand these key topics and ensure compliance with relevant tax laws and regulations.

Mandatory Disclosure Rules

To enhance the timely receipt of information on aggressive tax planning arrangements, Canada has implemented mandatory disclosure rules. These rules require the reporting of specific transactions, known as “reportable transactions” and “notifiable transactions,” to the tax authorities.

Reportable transactions are transactions that meet certain criteria defined in the Income Tax Act. Previously, two out of three defined hallmarks had to be present for a transaction to be reportable. However, recent amendments now require only one hallmark to be present. Promoters or advisers who promote reportable transactions are also required to disclose these transactions.

Notifiable transactions are a category of specific transactions designated by the Minister of National Revenue. The reporting obligations for notifiable transactions apply to certain platform operators that facilitate relevant activities by sellers resident in Canada or involving rental of immovable property located in Canada.


Filing a corporate tax return in Canada is a critical responsibility for all resident and non-resident corporations. Understanding the filing requirements, deadlines, and compliance obligations is essential to ensure proper adherence to Canadian tax laws. By staying informed and seeking professional guidance when needed, corporations can navigate the complexities of corporate tax in Canada and fulfill their tax obligations effectively.

Remember, this guide provides general information and should not be considered as legal or financial advice. Consult with a qualified professional for specific advice tailored to your corporation’s unique circumstances. Stay compliant and stay ahead in the ever-evolving landscape of corporate tax in Canada.

For all your Accounting and Tax needs you can contact BOMCAS Canada Accounting and Tax Services today for all your accounting and tax needs