Friday, September 18, 2009

Canadian Royalty Trusts General Information

Canadian Royalty trusts are a different animal than U.S. Royalty Trusts. First, they renew their holdings and operate more like an oil and gas company than does a U.S. Royalty Trust. Generally the Canadian trusts do not do exploratory drilling. When they do drilling it would generally be to increase production of their existing fields and holdings. Most of the Canadian royalty trusts provide dividend payments which are based on the oil and gas production. Royalty trusts pay monthly or quarterly income that varies over time as the production of their underlying assets varies. Payments to unitholders will also vary with the market price of oil and natural gas. As Canadian Royalty Trusts replenish their reserves (versus U.S royalty trusts that do not replenish their reserves), the distributions of Canadian royalty trusts are generally considered to be eligible for the 15% tax rate. We have not found any official confirmation of the eligibility of Canadian Royalty Trusts for the 15% tax rate and the potential investor should confirm this eligibility from other sources. On February 25, 2005 the Government of Canada passed Bill C-33. Under the terms of Bill C-33, commencing January 1, 2005 a non-refundable withholding tax of 15% will be applied to the entire distribution paid to U.S. residents by "Canadian Royalty Trusts", including both the taxable and return of capital portions of the distributions. Similarly, non-residents of countries with whom there is no reciprocal tax treaty with Canada will be subject to a non-refundable withholding tax of 25% on the entire distribution paid. These withholding taxes will be applied uniformly to units held in both taxable and home jurisdiction tax-exempt accounts. Non-resident unit holders are strongly advised to consult a resident tax advisor to determine the deductibility of these taxes in their resident jurisdiction. This Canadian law means that tax exempt accounts such as IRA's will be subject to the 15% withholding and that the recovery of the Canadian withholding amounts will be probably difficult or impossible to achieve making Canadian Royalty Trusts a questionable choice for tax exempt accounts such as IRAs. Taxable accounts should be able to claim the 15% Canadian withholding as a credit on their U.S. income tax return and therefore easily recover the withholding amount.

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