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Investing Beyond Borders Through Affiliates: FAPI Wisdom can Save from Tax Headaches

Exploring the concept of Foreign Accrual Property Income (FAPI) in Canadian taxation, encompassing its definition, calculations, deductions, and real-world examples showcasing its impact on Net Income For Tax Purposes.  
Analysis by
Nitin Ashok, CPA, CFA
December 11, 2023 11:54 AM
min read
Foreign Accrual Property Income (FAPI) in Canadian Taxation
Table of Contents


    Foreign Accrual Property Income (FAPI) plays a vital role in Canada's taxation landscape, specifically addressing the complex taxation of passive income derived from controlled foreign affiliates of Canadian taxpayers. FAPI was introduced to counter the potential abuse of non-resident corporations to defer taxes on property income and passive investments.

    Controlled Foreign Affiliate Defined

    The concept of a controlled foreign affiliate refers to a foreign affiliate of a Canadian taxpayer that meets specific control criteria. This includes the foreign affiliate being controlled by the Canadian resident either through individual shareholdings or in conjunction with other entities or individuals with whom they maintain a non-arm's-length relationship. The primary objective of this definition is to prevent the misuse of non-resident corporations to evade Canadian taxation on property income.

    Taxation of FAPI

    FAPI encompasses a wide range of passive income sources, including interest earnings, portfolio dividends, rental proceeds, and taxable portions of capital gains from non-active business assets. It also includes income from foreign investment businesses. Canadian taxpayers with investments in controlled foreign affiliates are required to recognize FAPI as it accrues, rather than waiting until dividends are distributed. This proactive approach prevents the deferral of tax obligations.

    Calculating and Mitigating Tax on FAPI

    One intriguing aspect of FAPI is that Canadian residents are not required to report FAPI from controlled foreign affiliates unless the cumulative income exceeds $5,000. This exemption recognizes the complexity involved in evaluating relatively smaller amounts of FAPI. To mitigate the impact of dual taxation, foreign taxes paid on FAPI are deductible against the earned FAPI income, reducing the potential for double taxation.

    The deduction against income is determined using a relevant tax factor (RTF), which varies based on the taxpayer's classification – 1.9 for individuals and 4 for corporations. The RTF attempts to replicate the hypothetical tax rate applicable if the income were earned domestically in Canada. However, this deduction is limited by the total FAPI amount.

    Dividends From FAPI

    A significant concern arises when dividends are paid after FAPI income has already been recognized by the Canadian taxpayer. To prevent double taxation, a deduction is available based on the lesser of the dividends received and the FAPI income that has previously undergone taxation, accounting for foreign taxes and other permissible deductions. This deduction mechanism safeguards against being taxed both during the accrual phase and when dividends are distributed.

    Example 1: Controlled Foreign Affiliate's Accrued Income

    Consider the scenario of "Globex Inc.," a Canadian corporation, and its wholly owned foreign subsidiary, "Intervest Ltd." In the tax year 2020, Intervest Ltd. generates $150,000 of investment income, subject to an 18% tax rate in the foreign jurisdiction. Notably, Intervest Ltd. doesn't distribute any post-tax income as dividends.

    Globex Inc. is obligated to recognize its share (100%) of Intervest Ltd.'s investment income as per FAPI regulations.

    Calculation for 2020:

    • FAPI [ITA 91(1)] = $150,000
    • Deduct Lesser Of:
    • FAPI = $150,000
    • ITA 91(4) Deduction [(4)(18%)($150,000)] = $108,000
    • Net Addition To Net Income For Tax Purposes = $42,000

    Implication: Globex Inc. must include $42,000 in its Net Income For Tax Purposes for the tax year 2020 due to the application of FAPI rules on Intervest Ltd.'s investment income.

    Example 2: Dividends from FAPI

    Continuing the scenario of "Globex Inc." and "Intervest Ltd.," in 2021, Intervest Ltd. pays out its net post-tax FAPI of $123,000 as dividends to Globex Inc. There are no withholding taxes on this dividend payment.

    Calculation for 2021:

    • Foreign Source Dividend – ITA 90(1) = $123,000
    • Deduct Lesser Of:
    • Previous FAPI After ITA 91(4) Deduction = $42,000 (as calculated in 2020)
    • Dividend Received = $123,000
    • Net Addition To Net Income For Tax Purposes = $81,000

    Implication: Intervest Ltd.'s dividend distribution of $123,000 to Globex Inc. results in an additional $81,000 added to Globex Inc.'s Net Income For Tax Purposes for the tax year 2021, accounting for the previous FAPI deduction.

    Synthesizing the Examples into FAPI Understanding

    The dual examples of "Globex Inc." and "Intervest Ltd." illustrate the intricate interplay between FAPI rules, investment income, foreign taxes, deductions, and dividends. These scenarios emphasize the complexity of FAPI calculations and their impact on the Net Income For Tax Purposes of Canadian corporations.

    These examples showcase how FAPI ensures the recognition and taxation of passive income from controlled foreign affiliates, while the associated deduction mechanisms prevent instances of double taxation, ensuring equitable taxation of foreign-derived income for Canadian residents.


    In conclusion, Foreign Accrual Property Income (FAPI) is a cornerstone of Canada's taxation system, designed to prevent the misuse of controlled foreign affiliates for deferring tax obligations related to passive income. By mandating the recognition of income from foreign investments, FAPI contributes to fair taxation. Through its intricate calculations and deduction mechanisms, FAPI strikes a balance between preventing double taxation and ensuring equitable taxation of foreign-derived income for Canadian residents.

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