This post is a brief look at estate filing rewuirements with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the role and requirements of an executor in Canada.
In Canada, there is no estate or succession tax, unless you consider the taxes owing to the CRA on the estate at death. RC4111(E) for English is what I used to do my research on this area, which can be tricky if you have no experience dealing with Estates, or with the CRA; http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tg/rc4111/rc4111-e.html.
Here is what makes it complicated… Your loved one dies and there is money left in the estate and by money, I’m referring to bank accounts, some investments and maybe an asset owned in the name of the deceased, like a car, or even a house. Before you, or the person responsible (the executor) can begin removing things from the deceased’s name into someone else’s name – usually yours – they have to first go to the CRA and find out if the deceased owed any taxes.
Aside from information already on their systems, the CRA will know if there are taxes owing by the deceased based on what has already been filed. But what about stuff not filed yet? One way the CRA determines if there are any taxes owing is by having the executor complete the filing of all tax returns owing for the deceased within 60-90 days of their date of death. Then, if there is no amount owing, the CRA provides a certificate called a clearance certificate which the executor can then present to banks, etc along with the death certificate in order to move funds and investments over to the surviving member.
If a clearance certificate is not received and funds are disbursed and the estate owes taxes, the CRA can then hold the executor liable for those funds!
The returns the CRA will be looking for include a T1 (individual tax return) for the decreased covering the period from January 1st of the year of death up to the date of death, reporting all income from employment and investments. Report income earned after the date of death on a T3 Trust Income Tax and Information Return. A T3 reports income from trusts for the estate (all the assets of the deceased make up the estate).
The capital gains (profit on any item bought) on their investments also have to be accounted for an added on this return.
If you file the final return late and there is a balance owing, the CRA will charge a late filing penalty (LFP). They will also charge interest on both the balance owing and any penalty. The penalty is 5% of any balance owing, plus 1% of the balance owing for each full month that the return is late, to a maximum of 12 months – as of January 2012. The LFP may be higher if the CRA has charged a LFP on a return for any of the three previous years.
In certain situations, the CRA may cancel the penalty and interest if you file the return late because of circumstances beyond your control. If this happens, complete Form RC4288, Request for Taxpayer Relief, or include a letter with the return explaining why you filed the return late. For more information, go to Fairness and Taxpayer Bill of Rights or see IC07-1, Taxpayer Relief Provisions.
Here is the 2011 CRA guide for preparing returns for deceased people;