Corporate - Tax credits and incentives

Last reviewed - 09 December 2022

Foreign tax credits

Taxpayers that have foreign-source income and are resident in Canada at any time in the year are eligible for foreign tax credit relief. Separate foreign tax credit calculations are prescribed for business and non-business income on a country-by-country basis. All provinces and territories also allow a foreign tax credit, but only in respect of foreign non-business income taxes.

Income or profits taxes paid to foreign governments generally are eligible for credit against a taxpayer's Canadian income taxes payable. The credit in respect of taxes paid on foreign income is restricted to the amount of Canadian taxes otherwise payable on this income. Generally, foreign tax credits are available only to reduce Canadian tax on foreign-source income that is subject to tax in the foreign country.

Foreign business income or loss is computed for each foreign country in which a branch is located. Excess foreign business income tax credits may be carried back three years or forward ten. The foreign non-business income tax credit applies to all foreign taxes other than those classified as business income tax. No carryover is allowed with respect to the non-business income foreign tax credit. Unused foreign non-business income tax may be deducted in computing income.

Regional incentives

In specified regions of Canada (i.e. Atlantic provinces, the Gaspé region, and Atlantic offshore region), a 10% federal ITC is available for various forms of capital investment (generally, new buildings, machinery and equipment, and/or clean energy generation equipment to be used primarily in manufacturing or processing, logging, farming, or fishing). The ITC is fully claimed against a taxpayer's federal tax liability in a given year. Unused ITCs reduce federal taxes payable for the previous three years and the next 20, or may be 40% refundable to CCPCs.

The provinces and territories may also offer incentives to encourage corporations to locate in a specific region. Income tax holidays are available in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec for certain corporations operating in specific industries (e.g. in Ontario and Quebec, commercialisation of intellectual property; in Prince Edward Island, aviation or marine technology) or meeting certain conditions (e.g. job creation for Newfoundland and Labrador).

Industry incentives

Canada offers many tax incentives at the federal, provincial, and territorial levels, for various industries and activities, including those related to:

  • research and development (see below)
  • film, media, computer animation and special effects, interactive digital media, and multi-media productions
  • manufacturing and processing
  • liquefied natural gas development, and
  • environmental sustainability (e.g. see Investment tax credit for carbon capture, utilisation, and storage and Other federal environmental incentives below).

Scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) credit

In addition to the SR&ED deduction, a taxpayer can benefit from a federal ITC, which is generally a 15% non-refundable credit on SR&ED expenditures that can be applied against federal taxes payable. Alternatively, this tax credit can be carried back 3 years or forward 20, to be applied against federal taxes owing.

A qualifying CCPC can qualify for a 35% refundable tax credit annually on its first CAD 3 million in expenditures. This enhanced credit is subject to certain capital limitations.

In addition to the federal SR&ED incentives, all provinces (except Prince Edward Island), as well as the Yukon, provide tax incentives to taxpayers that carry on research and development activities in the province or territory.

British Columbia natural gas tax credit

A non-refundable natural gas tax credit under the British Columbia Income Tax Act is available to qualifying corporations that develop natural gas, and have an establishment, in British Columbia. The credit can reduce the effective provincial CIT rate to a minimum of 9% (from 12%). Any unused credit can be carried forward indefinitely.

Investment tax credit for carbon capture, utilisation, and storage

Draft legislative proposals introduce the carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) refundable tax credit, which can be claimed by businesses that incur, beginning 1 January 2022, eligible expenses related to the purchase and installation of eligible equipment that is part of an eligible new project that captures carbon dioxide emissions in Canada and used for an eligible use. The CCUS equipment would be included in two new CCA classes. The tax credit rates for eligible expenses incurred:

  • after 2021 to 2030 range from 37.5% to 60%, and
  • after 2030 to 2040 range from 18.75% to 30%.

Other federal environmental incentives

The federal government proposes to introduce a refundable investment tax credit for:

  • Clean technologies, which will equal 30% of the capital cost of eligible new equipment that is acquired and becomes available for use on or after the day that the 2023 federal budget is released (to be gradually phased out, starting in 2032, and eliminated after 2034). Claimants meeting certain labour conditions (to be determined following a Department of Finance consultation with stakeholders) will be eligible for the 30% tax credit rate; otherwise, a 20% rate will apply.
  • Clean hydrogen production, which will be available for eligible investments made on or after the day that the 2023 federal budget is released (to be phased out after 2030). Certain labour conditions will be attached to this credit, which must be met for claimants to be eligible for the maximum rate (rates to be determined). A consultation will be held with stakeholders to determine implementation details.