Proposed changes to principal residence exemption in 2023

September 29, 2022by Akmin

One of the most valuable tax and investment strategies available to Canadians is home ownership. While the real estate market can (and does) go and up down, home ownership has proven to be, over the long term, a reliable way of building net worth.

The value of home ownership as a wealth-building tool is significantly increased by the tax rules which apply when a homeowner sells his or her home. Essentially, where an owner-occupied home is sold, the gain realized on that home which would, under ordinary tax rules, be included in income is instead received tax-free.

For example, a homeowner who purchased his or her home in 2000 for $200,000 and sells it in 2022 for $800,000 will earn a gain of $600,000. Half of that amount, or $300,000 would, under ordinary tax rules, constitute a taxable capital gain, on which the amount of combined federal-provincial tax could be close to $150,000. However, because of a tax rule known as the principal residence exemption, the entire gain realized is not included in income, and no tax is payable on that $600,000 amount.

It’s not hard to see that being able to claim the principal residence exemption on the sale of a residential property is a huge benefit – so much so that the federal government has become concerned that individuals who are “flipping” residential real estate are claiming tax benefits to which they are not entitled on the income earned from such sales, including making claims for the principal residence exemption.

The federal government has chosen to address this situation with a change which was announced in the 2022 federal Budget and which will take effect for residential property sales which take place on or after January 1, 2023. The proposed new “deeming” rule will provide that, where an individual sells a residential property within 365 days of acquiring it, that property will be considered a “flipped property” and profits realized will be treated as business income and will be fully taxable, unless the sale takes place in relation to one or more enumerated “life events” or circumstances. In effect, the rule seems to place the onus on the taxpayer who sells a residential property within one year after purchase to show that his or her reasons for selling within one year of purchase either fall under one of the exempted “life event” circumstances or, if not, that the facts are such that he or she is nonetheless entitled to claim the principal residence exemption on any gain realized from the sale.

The new rule will not apply where a taxpayer sells a property within 365 days of acquiring it, and the sale of that property can reasonably be considered to have occurred due to, or in anticipation of, one or more of the following events:

  • Death: the death of the taxpayer or a related person.
  • Household addition: one or more persons related to the taxpayer joining the taxpayer’s household or the taxpayer joining the household of a related person’s household (e.g., birth of a child, adoption, care of an elderly parent).
  • Separation: the breakdown of a marriage or common-law partnership, where the taxpayer has been living separate and apart from their spouse or common-law partner for a period of at least 90 days prior to the disposition.
  • Personal safety: a threat to the personal safety of the taxpayer or a related person, such as the threat of domestic violence.
  • Disability or illness: the taxpayer or a related person suffering from a serious disability or illness.
  • Employment change: a change in employment for the taxpayer or their spouse or common-law partner.
  • Involuntary termination: the employment of the taxpayer or their spouse or common-law partner is terminated by their employer;
  • Insolvency: insolvency of the taxpayer.
  • Involuntary disposition: the expropriation or the destruction of the taxpayer’s property.

The list of taxpayer circumstances in which the new rule will not apply to a sale within one year is undeniably broad; however, many of the criteria used to determine eligibility for an exemption from the new rule are, in some instances, quite subjective. A sale within 365 days of purchase which is the result of “serious disability or illness” would be exempt from the new rule, but it’s not clear what criteria would be applied to determine what constitutes a serious illness or disability, or who would make that determination.

It’s clear that the federal government’s target for the new deeming rule is individuals who buy residential properties intending to sell quickly for a profit and not individuals and families who, for any number of reasons, decide to sell within a year of buying their home. However, the net for the new rule has been cast very broadly and it’s unclear how that new rule, as currently drafted, will be efficiently administered in a way which achieves the government’s objectives, without overreach. Fortunately, the federal government will, prior to enacting this new rule four months from now, in January 2023, be carrying out a consultation process in which these or any other issues may be raised. Any interested taxpayer can contribute to that consultation process, which will continue until September 30, 2022. More information on how to participate can be found on the Finance Canada website at Government delivering on Budget 2022 commitments to Canadians –

The information presented is only of a general nature, may omit many details and special rules, is current only as of its published date, and accordingly cannot be regarded as legal or tax advice. Please contact our office for more information on this subject and how it pertains to your specific tax or financial situation.


Transitioning into retirement is a complex process, one which involves decisions around finances (present and future) as well as one’s way of life. While it was once typical for an individual to work full time until retiring (usually at age 65), the word “retirement” no longer has a single meaning – in fact, it’s now the case that almost every individual’s retirement plans look at little different than anyone else’s. Some will take a traditional retirement of moving from a full-time job into not working at all, while others may stay working full-time past the traditional retirement age of 65. Still others will leave full-time employment, but continue to work part-time, either out of financial need or simply from a desire to stay active and engaged in the work force.


This year, for the first time since 2019, most (if not all) post-secondary students will be preparing to go to (or return to) university or college for in-person learning. While that’s an exciting prospect after two years of pandemic restrictions, starting or returning to post-secondary education is also an expensive undertaking.  There will be tuition bills, of course, but also the need to find housing and pay rent in what is, in most college or university locations, a very tight and expensive rental market. Those who choose to live in residence and are able to secure a place will also face bills for accommodation and, usually, a meal plan.

While the way in which learning is delivered may have changed and changed again over the past two and a half years, the financial realities have not. Regardless of how post-secondary learning is structured and delivered, it is expensive. Fortunately, there are also tax credits and benefits which can be claimed to offset such costs.

The tax credits and deductions which can be claimed by post-secondary students (or their spouses, parents, or grandparents) in relation to the 2022–23 academic year are summarized below.

Tuition fees

The good news is that a federal tax credit continues to be available for the single largest cost associated with post-secondary education – the cost of tuition. Any student who incurs more than $100 in tuition costs at an eligible post-secondary institution (which would include most Canadian universities and colleges) can still claim a non-refundable federal tax credit of 15% of such tuition costs. Many of the provinces and territories (excepting Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan) also provide students with an equivalent provincial or territorial credit, with the rate of such credit differing by jurisdiction.

The charges imposed on post-secondary students under the heading of “tuition” include myriad costs which may differ, depending on the particular program or institution, and not all of those costs will qualify as “tuition” for purposes of the tuition tax credit. The following specific amounts do, however, constitute eligible tuition fees for purposes of that credit:

  • admission fees;
  • charges for use of library or laboratory facilities;
  • exemption fees;
  • examination fees (including re-reading charges) that are integral to a program of study;
  • application fees (but only if the student subsequently enrolls in the institution);
  • confirmation fees;
  • charges for a certificate, diploma, or degree;
  • membership or seminar fees that are specifically related to an academic program and its administration;
  • mandatory computer service fees; and
  • academic fees.

The following charges, however, do not constitute tuition fees for purposes of the credit:

  • extracurricular student social activities;
  • medical expenses;
  • transportation and parking;
  • board and lodging;
  • goods of enduring value that are to be retained by students (such as a microscope, uniform, gown, or computer);
  • initiation fees or entrance fees to professional organizations including examination fees or other fees (such as evaluation fees) that are not integral to a program of study at an eligible educational institution;
  • administrative penalties incurred when a student withdraws from a program or an institution;
  • the cost of books (other than books, compact disks or similar material included in the cost of a correspondence course when the student is enrolled in such a course given by an eligible educational institution in Canada); and
  • courses taken for purposes of academic upgrading to allow entry into a university or college program. These courses would usually not qualify for the tuition tax credit as they are not considered to be at the post-secondary school level.

Certain ancillary fees and charges, such as health services fees and athletic fees, may also be eligible tuition fees. However, such fees and charges are limited to $250 unless the fees are required to be paid by all full-time students or by all part-time students.

At both the federal and provincial levels, the credit acts to reduce tax otherwise payable. Where, as is often the case, a student doesn’t have tax payable for the year because his or her income isn’t high enough, credits earned can be carried forward and claimed by the student in any future tax year or transferred (within limits) in the current year to be claimed by a spouse, parent or grandparent.

Rent, food, and other personal and living expenses

Unfortunately, although housing and food costs will take up a big portion of each student’s budget, there is not (and never has been) a tax deduction or credit which is claimable for such costs. In all cases, living costs incurred by a post-secondary student (whether on campus or off) are characterized as personal and living expenses, for which no tax deduction or credit is allowed.

Student debt

Most post-secondary students in Canada must incur some amount of debt in order to complete their education, and repayment of that debt is typically not required until after graduation. Once repayment starts, a tax credit can be claimed for the amount of interest being paid on such debt, in some circumstances.

Students who are still in school and arranging for loans to finance their education should be mindful of the rules which govern that student loan interest tax credit, since decisions made while still in school with respect to how post-secondary education will be financed can have tax repercussions down the road, after graduation. That’s because while interest paid on a qualifying student loan is eligible for the credit, only some types of student borrowing will qualify for that credit. Specifically, only interest paid on government-sponsored (federal or provincial) student loans will be eligible for the credit. Interest paid on loans of any kind from any financial institution will not.

It’s not uncommon (especially for students in professional programs, like law or medicine) to be offered lines of credit by a financial institution, often at advantageous or preferential interest rates. As well, financial institutions sometimes offer, once a student has graduated and begun to repay a government-sponsored student loan, to consolidate that student loan with other kinds of debt, also at advantageous interest rates. However, it should be kept in mind that interest paid on that line of credit (or any other kind of borrowing from a financial institution to finance education costs) will never be eligible for the student loan interest tax credit.

As explained in the Canada Revenue Agency publication on the subject: “[I]f you renegotiated your student loan with a bank or another financial institution, or included it in an arrangement to consolidate your loans, you cannot claim this interest amount”. In other words, where a government student loan is combined with other debt and consolidated into a borrowing of any kind from a financial institution, the interest on that government student loan is no longer eligible for the student loan interest tax credit.

Students who are contemplating borrowing from a financial institution rather than getting a government student loan (or considering a consolidation loan which incorporates that student loan amount) must remember, in evaluating the benefit of any preferential interest rate offered by a financial institution, to take into account the loss of the student loan interest tax credit on that borrowing in future years.

Other credits and deductions

While the available student-specific deductions and credits are more limited than they were in previous taxation years, there are nonetheless a number of credits and deductions which, while not specifically education-related, are frequently claimed by post-secondary students (for instance, deductions for moving costs). The Canada Revenue Agency publishes a very useful guide which summarizes most of the rules around income and deductions which may apply to post-secondary students. The current version of that guide, entitled Students and Income Tax, is available on the CRA website at That guide was last revised in December of 2021 and the references in it are to the 2021 taxation year. However, it is safe to assume that the same rules will apply for 2022.

The information presented is only of a general nature, may omit many details and special rules, is current only as of its published date, and accordingly cannot be regarded as legal or tax advice. Please contact our office for more information on this subject and how it pertains to your specific tax or financial situation.