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Tax Implications in Corporate Control Acquisition

Delve into the multifaceted realm of corporate control acquisition and its tax implications. From loss carryforward intricacies to strategic decision-making, this article talks about the complexities of ownership changes while staying compliant with tax regulations.
Analysis by
Nitin Ashok, CPA, CFA
January 15, 2024 10:34 AM
min read
The Tax Implications in Corporate Control Acquisition
Table of Contents


    In the dynamic realm of corporate taxation, certain events trigger intricate sets of rules and regulations that impact the financial landscape of businesses. One such event is the acquisition of control, which occurs when a person or group of persons gains significant influence over a corporation. The acquisition of control rules within the Income Tax Act (ITA) play a crucial role in ensuring fairness and preventing potential tax avoidance in such situations. This article delves into the multifaceted world of acquisition of control rules, covering concepts like deemed disposals, non-capital losses, elections, and more, all through illustrative examples.

    Understanding Acquisition of Control

    The concept of acquisition of control goes beyond mere ownership of shares. It encompasses scenarios where changes in majority ownership lead to shifts in the ability to elect the majority of the board of directors. These changes can arise from the sale of shares by a majority shareholder to an unrelated party or through other ownership adjustments. To prevent misuse and address evolving strategies, anti-avoidance rules have been introduced, focusing on loss trading among trusts and avoiding acquisition of control rules through de facto control.

    Taxation Implications and Loss Utilization

    When an acquisition of control occurs, the corporation faces a deemed year end just before the acquisition. This has significant implications on the taxation period and loss utilization. If the acquisition happens before the corporation's usual year end, a short fiscal period is created. This can impact calculations for Capital Cost Allowance (CCA), small business deduction limits, and other year-end procedures.

    However, corporations have the flexibility to change their year end when an acquisition of control takes place, mitigating the need for multiple short fiscal periods. This additional year end is crucial for the utilization of time-limited losses. Non-capital losses, which can be carried forward for up to 20 years, might need careful management within this changing fiscal landscape.

    Utilization of Loss Carryforwards: A Closer Look

    One of the most intriguing aspects of acquisition of control relates to the utilization of loss carryforwards. Imagine a scenario where Company A acquires control of Company B. Company B has accumulated a non-capital loss carryforward due to losses incurred in its business in the previous year. In the absence of an acquisition of control, this loss could be utilized by Company A to offset its taxable income fully.

    In the acquisition of control context, restrictions on losses come into play. The rules differ for capital and non-capital losses. Capital losses present at the deemed year end are forfeited, while the utilization of non-capital losses is subject to the continuation of the same business, expectation of profit, and application against similar business income conditions. This intricate interplay of loss utilization and business continuity requires careful calculation and planning.

    Lets dive into some facets of control acquisition with following scenarios.

    Illustrative Examples: Bringing Concepts to Life

    Scenario 1: Loss Utilization

    Consider India Inc., a company that operates two distinct lines of business: selling fountain pens and providing professional accounting services. In 2019, the pen business incurred a loss of $192,000, while the accounting business earned income of $57,000. Fast forward to 2020, where the pen business earned income of $42,000, and the accounting business earned income of $247,000.

    Now, let's determine the minimum Taxable Income for 2020 under two scenarios: (1) no acquisition of control, and (2) an acquisition of control on January 1, 2020.

    1. No Acquisition of Control: Net Income for Tax Purposes for 2020: $289,000 ($42,000 + $247,000) Non-capital loss carry forward: $135,000 Taxable Income: $289,000 - $135,000 = $154,000
    2. Acquisition of Control: Net Income for Tax Purposes for 2020: $289,000 Non-capital loss carry forward (pen business income): $42,000 (Of the total loss of $135,000, only loss related to pen business can be used as company acquiring is in pen business)Taxable Income: $289,000 - $42,000 = $247,000 Non-capital loss carry forward: $135,000 - $42,000 = $93,000

    Scenario 2: Write-Downs at Deemed Year End

    Let's consider another facet of the acquisition of control process. When control of a company changes hands, procedures come into play that affect the valuation of the company's assets at the deemed year end. This involves assessing the fair market value of these assets and can have tax implications.

    For instance, if the company owns land with an adjusted cost base of $293,000 and a fair market value of $215,000, the ITA 111(4)(c) rule requires it to be written down to its fair market value. This results in an allowable capital loss of $39,000.

    Similarly, if the company possesses depreciable assets with a capital cost of $416,000, a UCC balance of $276,000, and a fair market value of $184,000, ITA 111(5.1) mandates a write-down to its fair market value. The write-down, $92,000 in this case, becomes CCA to be deducted in the deemed taxation year.

    Strategic Elections

    Corporations facing an acquisition of control often have strategic choices to make, particularly regarding elections. One such election involves a deemed disposition of assets. Despite the apparent counter intuitiveness of triggering taxable capital gains, this election serves a purpose. By doing so, corporations can utilize net capital loss carryforwards and manage their tax implications more effectively.

    Here's where it gets intriguing. This election can also result in the recapture of capital cost allowances (CCA). The decision-making process becomes a delicate balance between short-term tax payments and long-term benefits.


    The acquisition of control rules within the Income Tax Act carry significant implications for businesses undergoing changes in ownership and control. These rules prevent undue tax losses and ensure fairness in the tax system. Understanding these rules is essential for corporations and tax professionals alike, as they navigate the complexities of acquisitions and strive to optimize their financial strategies while remaining compliant with the law. The intricacies of acquisition of control are not just theoretical concepts; they shape real-world decisions and actions that impact the bottom line of corporations.

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