Often, it doesn’t pay to procrastinate. I wrote about how I was in the process of moving our investment accounts out of Questrade and though I had filled out the transfer forms, I’ve been neglecting to mail the forms to TD Waterhouse. Sure enough, at the end of the year, some of my ETF holdings paid dividends and I find out yet another issue with Questrade.
If you hold a stock that trades in a US exchange in a taxable account and the stock pays you a dividend, a withholding tax is automatically charged to your account. Under a bilateral treaty, the withholding tax for Canadian residents is 15%. If you are not classified as a Canadian resident, the default withholding tax of 30% is charged. Fortunately, you can receive a credit for the 15% tax paid to the IRS when you file your taxes with the CRA but the 30% rate will result in some double taxation. Note that the withholding tax does not apply to RRSPs. You can find a detailed discussion on the withholding tax on Bylo’s website.
Though I had submitted a driver’s license along with my application and Questrade says that it’s policy is to classify clients as Canadian residents when a government-issued photo ID is supplied, our account “slipped through the net” and was set up as a non-resident account. As a result, when some of our ETF holdings made a distribution, 30% of the dividends were withheld. I contacted customer service and as is my usual experience, received little help beyond being told that it was my responsibility to submit a W8BEN form and since I didn’t, there was nothing they could do.
So, once again I contacted Emil Vojkollari, Chief Acquisitions Supervisor at Questrade to sort things out and as things stand now, I’ll be classified as a Canadian resident for future dividend payments and I’ll be issued a NR4, which I should file along with a NR7 to claim back the extra withholding tax. I could have avoided this headache if I had paid more attention to a dividend payment in September when a tax of $9.63 was withheld on a dividend payment of $32.10. I missed it because somehow we don’t tend to pay attention to small amounts.
If you have an account with Questrade and you hold US stocks in an investment account, you may want to check that 15% of dividend payments are being withheld. If not, contact Questrade and ensure that the correct withholding rate will be applied to future dividend payments. Check if a NR4 will be issued to you. As for me, I’ve finally had enough: my transfer papers are in the mail.