Designation of eligible dividends
Corporations have to designate each eligible dividend that they pay, before or at the time the dividends are paid, and notify shareholders in writing that the dividend is eligible, as required by subsection 89(14) of the Income Tax Act.
Notification of shareholders
A corporation must make every effort to notify shareholders of an eligible dividend. Examples of notification could include:
- identifying eligible dividends through letters to shareholders
- dividend cheque stubs
- where all shareholders are directors of a corporation, a notation in the minutes
For public corporations, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will also accept that notification has been made if a designation is made stating that all dividends are eligible dividends unless indicated otherwise. Acceptable methods of making such a designation include posting a notice:
- on the corporation's website
- in corporate quarterly or annual reports
- in shareholder publications
The CRA will consider that a notice posted on a corporate website is notification that an eligible dividend is paid to shareholders until the notice is removed. Similarly, a notice in an annual or quarterly report that an eligible dividend has been paid is considered valid for that year or quarter, respectively.
Alternatively, if a public corporation issues a press release announcing the declaration of a dividend, the CRA will consider a statement in the press release indicating that the dividend is an eligible dividend as sufficient proof that notification was given to each shareholder.
A corporation can designate a portion of a taxable dividend or the whole amount to be an eligible dividend.
A corporation can file a late designation if the following two conditions are met:
- it is made within three years after the day on which the designation was first required to be made
- in the opinion of the minister, it is just and equitable to do so in the circumstances, including to affected shareholders
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