How to Defer Capital Gains Tax on Real Estate Sales

Allan Madan, CA
 Apr 15, 2015

If you have capital gain on the sale of real estate but have not received the entire payment, you can actually defer paying tax on that capital gain by using the capital gains reserve mechanism.

For anyone who has made profit on the sale of real estate in Canada this year, this article is of particular importance.  We will reveal a tax loophole that will allow you to delay or defer the tax on the capital gains.  It is also important to distinguish between capital gains and business income, to learn more please read this article on taxes on flipping Canadian real estate – capital gains vs. business income.

picWhen you sell a property in Canada, you are required to report the capital gain realized on your tax return (if you are selling property in the United States, please read this article on the tax implications for Canadians selling US property and real estate).  The capital gain is the difference between the selling price and the original purchase cost.  Selling cost can be deducted from the gain to reduce it.  According to the Canada Revenue Agency’s rules, only half of the capital gain is taxable to you.  What about in cases where you make the sale but do not collect all of payment from the seller? In this situation, you will still be required to pay the capital gains tax even though you have not collected all of the money.  The solution for a situation in which the buyer makes payments over a period of time, is the usage of the capital gains reserve.

Capital Gains Reserve

This reserve allows the seller from exempting all of the capital gain on their income until they receive all of the payment from the buyer.  As long as you are a resident of Canada, you can claim the capital gains reserve.  To claim this reserve, form T2017 in schedule 3 must be completed and submitted with your personal tax return for the year of sale.  Claiming this reserve will allow the deferral of capital gains for a maximum of five years.

For example, let’s assume that you realized a capital gain of $200,000 and the buyer agrees to pay in equal yearly installments over a period of five years.  By using the capital gains reserve, you would only have to report $40,000 of capital gains in income for each year for the next five years.

If you expect your tax bracket to be higher in future years, then claiming the capital gains reserve may not be entirely beneficial.  In this case, you will pay less tax overall if you include the entire capital gain in the current year.

So Here’s the Tip:

When you sell a property for profit.  Claim the capital gains reserve to defer including the gain in your income for up to five years.  For more information on how to minimize tax on real estate sales, please read this article on tax on real estate sales in Canada.


The information provided on this page is intended to provide general information. The information does not take into account your personal situation and is not intended to be used without consultation from accounting and financial professionals. Allan Madan and Madan Chartered Accountant will not be held liable for any problems that arise from the usage of the information provided on this page.

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Comments 7

  1. I have two investments property as rental units. I have sold one with a closing date of September 1, 2016. The capital gains is about $60,000. How can I defer the capital gains tax?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi, Eva
      If you received all of the sales proceeds on closing, you cannot defer paying tax on the capital gain that arose on sale.

  2. My husband just sold his primary residence. We are now living in my home. We got married July 2nd, 2016. Can he maximize my interest free account of 52k as well as his, Without any CRA difficulties?

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