Salary vs. Dividends – Which is Right for You?

Many business owners are unsure of whether to opt for salary-based earnings or payments in dividends. There are various advantages and disadvantages between the two, and it is important to research whether or not one of these options is suitable for your business. By comparing salaries and dividends, we can clarify the differences between the two.

CPP and RRSP Payments

Being paid a corporate salary means that you will be able to contribute towards an RRSP. This is a result of you having a personal income, and it means that you’ll also be paying into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) to secure a financially bolstered retirement. However, take into consideration the fact that as salary is 100% taxable as opposed to dividends (the latter taxed at a lower rate), you’ll need to pay both portions of the CPP as an employer and employee.

With dividends, you won’t be required to make regular CPP payments, which can help to save money, though it may be best to invest anyway as it can increase what you are entitled to upon retirement. Also, the logging of payments is a relatively simplified process compared to that of salary-based earnings that entail setting up payroll accounts with the Canada Revenue Agency and filling out extra paperwork. That being said, by receiving dividends you forfeit the ability to make RRSP contributions as a result of not having any income.

Tax Deductions and Increases

When it comes to taxes, salaries are seen as a burden due to the fact that they are 100% taxable. This means that your personal income is subject to higher rates and a smaller return. Additionally, you may not be able to carry back a business loss in future years when paid via a salary, which is quite the reverse if you were earning in dividends. That being said, owning a corporation that pays in salaries and bonuses enables for greater company tax deductions.

Dividends are taxed at a much lower rate than that of salaries, resulting in lower personal tax rates. This can enable for easier budget management, greater savings, and opportunities for investment in order to bolster income flow. However, it can also remove some personal income tax deductions, such as those for child care expenses.

Limitations for Small Businesses

It is important to bear in mind that the Small Business Limit is $500,000, which relates to income tax deductions available to private controlled Canadian corporations (CCPCs). On many occasions, salaries and bonuses are paid to ensure a corporation’s earnings don’t exceed this amount, with dividends being utilized if further income is required. This is due to the fact that after a business exceeds this figure, it pays much more in taxes.

Depending on cash flow needs, your income level, predicted company income for the year, and RRSP and tax deduction importance, salaries and dividends both offer a wide range of pros and cons. It is highly recommended that you consult with a financial advisor from The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd. who can help you determine which option is more suitable for your situation and discuss other tax planning strategies to put more money back in your pocket.