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Navigating the business landscape: Understanding corporation types in Canada

In the dynamic world of Canadian business, choosing the right corporate structure is pivotal. Canadian law recognizes several business structures, such as a sole proprietor and a limited partnership, but by far the most flexible arrangement is the corporation.

Different types of Canadian corporations are regulated and taxed in various ways. Whether you’re a solopreneur or a mid-sized business, understanding these categories is crucial for strategic planning and compliance when you have a corporation in Canada.

Types of companies in Canada

Canada recognizes five distinct types of corporations, each catering to different business needs and goals. These include:

  • Canadian-controlled private corporation (CCPC)
  • Other private corporation
  • Public corporation
  • Corporation controlled by a public corporation
  • Other corporation

Keep reading to learn more about each of these types of corporations.

Canadian-controlled private corporation

Favoured by small to medium-sized businesses, CCPCs offer tax advantages and are owned and controlled by Canadians. These corporations benefit from lower corporate tax rates, particularly on the first $500,000 of active business income, and are eligible for the small business deduction, enhancing their financial efficiency. Additionally, they have access to enhanced tax credits like the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) credit, offering support for innovation.

For shareholders, CCPCs provide perks such as dividend tax credits to mitigate double taxation and the potential for a lifetime capital gains exemption on the sale of qualifying shares. The ownership and control requirements ensure these benefits primarily support Canadian entrepreneurs, making CCPCs an ideal structure for domestic business growth.

To qualify as a CCPC, the corporation must:

  • Be private (as in the shares are not for sale on any public stock exchange)
  • Be resident in Canada
  • Not be controlled by any non-residents
  • Not be controlled by any public companies
  • Not have any class of its shares listed on a public stock exchange

The CCPC is a popular corporate structure for small businesses in Canada.

Other private corporation

Other private corporations are private companies that don't meet the requirements for CCPCs — the main one being that they are not controlled by Canadians. These companies must be resident in Canada and cannot be controlled by public corporations, but they may be controlled by non-residents as long as those non-residents are not public companies. 

Public corporation

Listed on a Canadian stock exchange, public corporations have broader access to capital but face more regulatory scrutiny. A corporation can also become a public corporation by way of designation by the Minister of National Revenue. These corporations are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and anyone may buy shares of the company through the stock exchange.

Corporation controlled by a public corporation

A common example of a corporation controlled by a public corporation is a Canadian subsidiary of a public company. When a public corporation, which could be a multinational company listed on any global stock exchange, decides to extend its operations into Canada, it often does so by establishing a subsidiary.

This subsidiary, while operating in Canada and adhering to Canadian corporate laws, is controlled by the parent public corporation. The control can manifest in majority shareholding or significant influence over the subsidiary's management decisions.

Other corporation

Companies falling into the category of "other" are corporations that don't fit anywhere else. One example of a corporation that might fall into the "other" category is a social enterprise corporation. Unlike typical profit-driven corporations, social enterprises are organizations that operate with the primary goal of addressing social, cultural, or environmental issues.

While they do generate revenue and can be profitable, their main aim is to reinvest the majority of their profits back into their cause, rather than distributing them to shareholders as dividends. Social enterprise corporations include companies that are non-profit organizations or registered charities

Navigating the benefits and responsibilities

Each corporation type has a unique set of benefits and responsibilities. For instance, CCPCs enjoy lower tax rates and tax deferral opportunities. Conversely, public corporations, while having greater capital raising capabilities, must adhere to stringent disclosure and governance requirements.

Choosing the right fit for your business

Selecting the appropriate corporate structure is a decision that should align with your business size, industry, and long-term goals. It's important to check with a lawyer, accountant, or financial professional who specializes in corporate structures before determining which corporate structure is right for your business.

Understanding the various corporation types in Canada is fundamental to your business success. For further insights and business solutions, explore QuickBooks Canada's resources, and discover how QuickBooks can streamline your business operations and financial management. 


This content is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by region, state or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit does not have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit does not warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.

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