Understanding the General Rate Income Pool (GRIP)

Understanding the General Rate Income Pool (GRIP)
Understanding the General Rate Income Pool (GRIP)

You can't talk about the Canadian tax system without talking about the General Rate Income Pool (GRIP). It plays a pivotal role in determining the tax implications of dividend payments made by private corporations to their shareholders.

The Canadian taxation is complex and needs the guidance of a tax professional in Canada. While we will provide an extensive overview of GRIP, including its calculation, significance, and impact on dividend payments, we also advise that you consult with an experienced accountant in Canada for tax guidance.

What is the General Rate Income Pool (GRIP)?

GRIP is like a special account in a Canadian company's tax system. It's used to keep track of money that has been taxed at the regular business tax rate.

In other words, the GRIP is the amount of money that usually shows how much income hasn't received tax benefits, like the small business deduction or other special tax rates.

The primary purpose of GRIP is to calculate the tax consequences of dividends distributed to shareholders.

How is the GRIP Calculated?

Calculating a GRIP is a careful task. To grasp it, let's break it down into components:
  • Taxable Income: The foundation of the GRIP calculation is the taxable income of the corporation, including all types of income generated by the corporation, such as business income, investment income, and capital gains.
  • Previously Taxed Surplus: Previously taxed surplus is another integral part of the GRIP calculation. This represents income that has already been taxed at the general corporate tax rate in the past.
  • Capital Dividend Account (CDA) Balance: The CDA balance is a key determinant of a corporation's GRIP balance. It is the account that keeps track of tax-free dividends that can be paid to shareholders. Dividends from the CDA do not result in any additional tax liability for the shareholders.

Generally, the formula to calculate the GRIP balance is as follows:


  • RDTOH: The balance in the Refundable Dividend Tax On Hand account.
  • EDA: The amount of eligible dividends paid in the current year.
  • NII: Net investment income, which is generally the investment income a corporation earned, including things like interest, rent, and capital gains.
  • SBD: The small business deduction.
  • FII: Foreign investment income, which includes foreign passive income.

What is the Significance of the GRIP Balance?

The GRIP balance essentially represents a corporation's cumulative undistributed income that has been taxed at the general corporate tax rate. This balance shows the money that the corporation could give to shareholders as dividends without them having to pay taxes on it.

A positive GRIP balance means that a corporation has surplus funds it can distribute to its shareholders as tax-free dividends. This will benefit the corporation and its shareholders because it minimizes personal tax liability.

How Does GRIP Affect Dividend Payments?

GRIP affects the taxes on dividend payments. When a corporation has a positive GRIP balance, it can distribute dividends to shareholders without incurring additional taxes.

These dividends are considered a return of previously taxed income and do not result in personal tax liability for the shareholders. In simple terms, having more money in your GRIP account means you can pay dividends to shareholders in a way that's better for taxes.

Can a Corporation Have a Negative GRIP Balance?

Yes, a corporation can have a negative GRIP balance. This happens when the company gives out more dividends that get taxed than the income that can be considered for the GRIP. A negative GRIP balance can have tax consequences for both the corporation and its shareholders.

When a corporation has a negative GRIP balance, it means that it has exhausted its pool of income that qualifies for tax-free dividends. Any further dividend distributions may result in additional tax liabilities for the shareholders.

How Can a Corporation Maximize its GRIP Balance?

Corporations often seek ways to maximize their GRIP balance to optimize tax planning. Here are some strategies to achieve this:
  • Retain Taxable Income: Corporations can maximize their GRIP balance by retaining income that has been taxed at the general corporate tax rate. This income can then be allocated to the GRIP and distributed as tax-free dividends when needed.
  • Careful Dividend Management: Corporations should carefully manage their dividend payments to ensure that they do not exceed the available GRIP balance. This means you need to carefully plan and keep an eye on how you pay dividends to get the most benefit from your GRIP.
  • Record-Keeping: To get your GRIP balance right, you must keep good records. Corporations need to have detailed financial records and paperwork to back up their GRIP calculations.

What Are the Tax Implications for Shareholders When GRIP is Used?

When a corporation uses its GRIP to pay tax-free dividends to shareholders, there are several key tax implications:
  • Reduced Personal Tax Liability: Shareholders who receive tax-free dividends from a positive GRIP balance generally have reduced personal tax liabilities. These dividends are not subject to additional taxation at the individual level.
  • Tax-Efficient Income: Tax-free dividends from the GRIP can be an efficient source of income for shareholders, as they do not result in the same tax liabilities as other forms of income.
  • Avoiding Double Taxation: The GRIP system stops money from being taxed twice. It lets companies give out money that they already paid taxes on, and shareholders don't have to pay more taxes on it. This helps to avoid double taxation.

Are There Any Restrictions on Using the GRIP Balance?

While GRIP can be a valuable tool for tax planning, there are restrictions and rules that corporations must adhere to:
  • Eligible Dividends: The GRIP balance can only be used for eligible dividends, which are subject to a lower tax rate for shareholders. Corporations must ensure that the dividends they distribute meet the criteria for eligibility.
  • Compliance with Tax Regulations: Corporations must follow the tax rules when using GRIP. If they don't, they could get fines and owe more taxes. It's really important to play by the tax rules.

Can GRIP Rules Change Over Time?

Yes, GRIP rules are subject to change, just like other tax regulations. Tax laws and policies can evolve over time, and corporations must stay informed about any amendments or updates. It's advisable to regularly consult with tax professionals and stay up-to-date on the latest tax developments.

Where Can I Find More Information About GRIP and Its Implications?

If you need more info about GRIP and how it affects your business, you can visit the official website of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). They have detailed info and guidelines about corporate taxes and GRIP. Furthermore, you can speak to a corporate taxation professional if you need one-on-one tax advice.


The General Rate Income Pool (GRIP) is an important concept in the Canadian corporate tax system. It affects how taxes work when a corporation pays dividends, and it can be really helpful for tax planning when used the right way.

Knowing how to calculate GRIP, why it's important, and how it affects finances is super important for both companies and shareholders. It can lead to tax-efficient income distribution and reduced personal tax liabilities.

To make the most of GRIP and stay informed about tax regulations, I recommend that you seek professional advice.
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