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Planning to give your cottage to the kids? That big jump in real estate value may also come with a big tax bill: CIBC's Jamie Golombek

Closing the cottage this weekend? Time to also open the books to determine what it's worth and any future tax implications

TORONTO, Oct. 8, 2015 /CNW/ - Many Canadians expect to leave vacation property in their wills but the rapid rise in real estate values could leave them or their heirs with a major tax bill, says Jamie Golombek, Managing Director, Tax and Estate Planning, Wealth Advisory Services at CIBC (TSX: CM) (NYSE: CM).

"If you plan to sell or pass down real estate to the next generation you may be subject to a host of tax and estate planning issues that could not only cost you or your heirs a lot of cash, but could even force the sale of the property," warns Mr. Golombek.

"Advance planning may help to avoid the capital gains tax altogether or defer paying it as long as possible," he says. His report, "What's up dock? Tax and estate planning for your vacation home," provides guidance on tax efficient ways for Canadians to transfer or sell vacation properties.

70 per cent of Canadians expecting to leave assets plan to pass down real estate 

A CIBC poll found that 70 per cent of those Canadians expecting to leave assets plan to pass down real estate upon their death. When it comes to having conversations about transferring wealth, the poll also found many Canadians had not discussed it with their family or a financial advisor.

"The first step to the successful transfer of real estate is to initiate an open, honest conversation with your family," says Mr. Golombek. "This is particularly important when planning for the transfer of an asset such as a home or cottage where children's plans for the future might not always align with parents' expectations."

Tips on transferring real estate

The key to deciding how best to transfer your property is to understand how the gains from the disposal are taxed: A principal residence will not trigger capital gains and home owners are free to decide which property they designate as their principal residence, Mr. Golombek advises.

"Even though you may have a property that you consider to be your principal residence, such as the family home where you live most of the year, another property, such as a cottage or even a vacation property located outside of Canada, can be your principal residence," he says.

The principal residence exemption (PRE), however, can only be applied to one property per taxation year. If the gain from the sale of a property is not reported on your tax return, it will be assumed that this was your principal residence for the years you owned it, precluding you from using the exemption for your other property for the years of overlapping ownership.

"You should make a conscious decision whether or not to claim the PRE when you dispose of a property," cautions Mr. Golombek. "Considering the past appreciation in value and the potential for future increases, it may make sense to save the PRE for the property with the most gains."

While capital gains on the disposal of a second property cannot be avoided altogether, there are strategies to reduce or defer the tax liability, including life insurance, the use of a trust or a corporation.

"Passing on the family home or cottage is not an easy decision to make, particularly since a great deal of emotion is attached to it," says Mr. Golombek. "With professional advice and advance planning, you may be able to mitigate some of the challenges that arise from owning multiple properties."

About CIBC

CIBC is a leading Canadian-based global financial institution with 11 million personal banking and business clients. Through our three major business units - Retail and Business Banking, Wealth Management and Wholesale Banking - CIBC offers a full range of products and services through its comprehensive electronic banking network, branches and offices across Canada with offices in the United States and around the world. You can find other news releases and information about CIBC on our corporate website at

SOURCE Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

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Caroline Van Hasselt, Director, External Communications, at 416-784-6699 or e-mail: