Browse Analysis of Managed and Structured Products

22.5.3 Income Trust Taxation

Learn about the taxation principles for income trusts, including the differences between general income trusts and Canadian REITs.

Income Trust Taxation

When it comes to the taxation of income trusts, it largely resembles the tax treatment of traditional taxable Canadian corporations. Here, the general principle indicates that both the income trust itself and the investor who receives distributions from the trust have tax obligations.

Broadly, income trusts pay tax on their earnings, similar to how corporations are taxed on profits. Investors, in turn, must report and pay tax on the distributions they receive from the income trust, much like they would with dividends from corporate shares. However, the specifics can vary depending on the type of trust and the income generated.

Tax Treatment Summary

  • Income Trusts: Taxable on income. Investors pay tax on distributions received, akin to taxable dividends from corporations.
  • Canadian REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts): These trusts can circumvent taxes at the trust level by directly distributing income generated to unitholders, who are then taxed on these distributions.

Canadian REITs Taxation Rules

Graphically, Canadian Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) operate under a favored tax regime. They possess the ability to entirely bypass paying direct taxes if they distribute all income to unitholders. As unitholders incorporate these distributions into their income tax returns, this facilitates a single layer of taxation.

Example of REIT Taxation

Given the unique capabilities of Canadian REITs within income trusts, visualize the following example: Suppose a REIT generates an income of CAD 1,000,000 in a fiscal year. If it distributes all of this income to its unitholders, the REIT itself does not incur any income tax. Instead, each unitholder receives a proportionate taxable income amount, which they then individually declare in their tax filings.

Diagram: Canadian REIT Tax Flow

    graph TD
	    REIT[REIT Generates Income] -->|Distributes Income| Investor1[Unitholder Receives Distribution]
	    REIT -->|Distributes Income| Investor2[Unitholder Receives Distribution]
	    subgraph Tax Flow: Investors Pay Tax on Distributions
	      Investor1 -- Pays Individual Tax --> TaxAuthorities
	      Investor2 -- Pays Individual Tax --> TaxAuthorities

Key Takeaways

  • Income Trusts are subject to similar tax treatments to Canadian corporations, involving both corporate-level tax payments and investor-level distributions tax.
  • Canadian REITs have distinctive rules, allowing them to distribute income directly to unitholders sans paying corporate tax, shifting the tax burden entirely to individual investors.
  • Proper understanding of taxation structures aids in making informed investment decisions and optimizing personal tax strategies, given these distributions must be reported on individual tax returns.


  • Income Trust: An entity that holds income-generating assets and typically redistributes the earnings from these assets to its investors as units or shares.
  • REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust): A type of income trust specializing in real estate that distributes most of its revenue directly to unitholders, often to avoid direct taxation at the entity level.
  • Distributions: Payments made by trusts or corporations to their investors from the profits or earnings generated by the entity.
  • Unitholder: An investor who owns units in an income trust, such as a REIT.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What tax advantage does a REIT offer over a general income trust?

A: The primary tax advantage is that a REIT can distribute all its generated income to avoid paying taxes at the trust level, moving taxation responsibility directly to unitholders.

Q: Are distributions from income trusts considered taxable dividends?

A: Yes, similar to how dividends from corporate shares are treated, distributions from income trusts are taxable in the hands of the investors.

Q: How should investors report distributions received from Canadian REITs?

A: Investors should include distributions received from Canadian REITs on their personal income tax returns under the ‘Other Income’ category, ensuring such amounts are accurately reported.

CSC® Exams Practice Questions

📚✨ CSC Exam Questions ✨📚

Welcome to the Knowledge Checkpoint! You'll find 10 carefully curated CSC exam practice questions designed to reinforce the key concepts covered. These questions will help you gauge your grasp of the material, identify areas that need further review, and ensure you're on the right track towards mastering the content for the Canadian Securities certification exams. Take your time, think critically, and use these quizzes as a tool to enhance your learning journey. 📘✨

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## How is the tax treatment of income trusts similar to that of taxable Canadian corporations? - [ ] Income trusts do not pay tax at all - [ ] Investors do not get taxed on distributions at all - [x] Both the income trust and taxable Canadian corporations pay tax, and the distributions are taxed in the hands of the investor - [ ] Only the income trust pays tax, not the distributions > **Explanation:** The income trust pays tax on its income. Additionally, when distributions are made to investors, those distributions are taxed in the hands of the investors, just like dividends received from a corporation. ## Which type of trust has a different taxation rule compared to traditional income trusts and taxable Canadian corporations? - [ ] All income trusts - [ ] Mutual funds - [ ] Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) - [x] Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) > **Explanation:** Canadian REITs have a distinct taxation rule which allows them to avoid paying tax by distributing their income directly to unitholders, and the income is then taxed in the hands of the investors. ## What enables Canadian REITs to avoid paying tax at the trust level? - [ ] Financial derivatives - [x] Distribution of income directly to unitholders - [ ] Retention of earnings for reinvestment - [ ] High-frequency trading > **Explanation:** Canadian REITs avoid paying tax by distributing all of their income directly to their unitholders, subsequently, the revenue is taxed in the hands of the investors. ## What happens to the revenue generated by a REIT that is not distributed to unitholders? - [ ] It is still taxed at the level of the trust - [ ] It is untaxed - [x] It does not exist; REITs must distribute their income to avoid tax - [ ] It is deferred to future periods > **Explanation:** In order to avoid paying tax at the trust level, REITs must distribute their income directly to unitholders. There is no revenue retained that gets taxed within the trust itself. ## Who bears the tax burden of the income generated by a REIT? - [ ] The REIT itself - [ ] The government - [x] The investors - [ ] The REIT's management team > **Explanation:** The income generated by a REIT is taxed in the hands of the investors since the REIT distributes its income directly to unitholders. ## How does the taxation of income distributions from income trusts affect investors? - [ ] Investors receive untaxed distributions - [ ] Investors avoid paying any tax - [x] Investors are required to pay tax on distributions they receive - [ ] Investors' distributions are taxed only when they sell their units > **Explanation:** Investors receiving distributions from income trusts are subject to tax on those distributions similarly to how dividends from corporations are taxed. ## Which statement is true about the income trust's method of handling tax? - [ ] Income trusts do not pay any tax - [ ] Income generated by income trusts is taxed only at the investor level - [x] Income trust itself pays tax, and distributions are taxed in investors' hands - [ ] Income trusts and REITs have the same taxation rules > **Explanation:** The income trust itself pays tax on its income. Distributions made to investors from the trust are taxed in the hands of the investors. ## What type of taxation can investors expect when receiving distributions from REITs? - [ ] They will not be taxed at all - [ ] They will pay tax only upon selling their units - [ ] They will pay capital gains tax only - [x] They will be taxed on the distributions received > **Explanation:** The revenue generated by a REIT and distributed to investors is taxed in the hands of the investors. ## When comparing income trusts and REITs, which of the following is true concerning their tax approach? - [ ] Both income trusts and REITs pay tax at the trust level - [ ] Neither income trusts nor REITs distribute income - [ ] Income trusts avoid tax by distributing income - [x] REITs avoid tax by distributing income directly to unitholders > **Explanation:** REITs can avoid paying tax by distributing their income directly to unitholders. Income trusts pay tax and distribute taxed income to investors. ## What must an investor understand about the taxation of distributions from taxable Canadian corporations and income trusts? - [ ] Distributions from income trusts are not taxed - [ ] They can defer tax indefinitely - [x] Distributions are taxed in the hands of the investor - [ ] Both do not pay taxes within Canada > **Explanation:** Just like with dividends received from a corporation, distributions from income trusts are also taxed in the hands of the investor.

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Sunday, July 21, 2024