Allowable Business Investment Loss (ABIL) in Canada is a powerful tax provision that can provide relief to individuals who have invested in small business corporations (SBCs) facing financial challenges. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into ABIL, explore its qualifying criteria, tax implications, limits, and why seeking professional advice is crucial when considering this tax benefit.

Who’s it for:

  • Small business owners

  • Startup investors

  • Anyone interested in tax-saving strategies

Continue reading if you’re looking to understand:

  • What ABIL is

  • Qualifying criteria

  • Tax implications

  • Limits and considerations

  • Seeking professional advice


ABIL, or Allowable Business Investment Loss, is a tax-saving opportunity in Canada that can reduce your income tax burden when you’ve invested in a struggling small business. If you experienced financial losses from such investments made as part of your business activities, you can claim these losses on your tax return, effectively lowering your taxable income. However, ABIL has specific eligibility criteria and limitations, making it crucial to seek guidance from a tax expert to ensure you use it correctly and maximize your tax benefits.

What is Allowable Business Investment Loss (ABIL) in Canada?

An Allowable Business Investment Loss (ABIL) is a specialized type of capital loss that can occur when an individual invests in shares or debt of a small business corporation (SBC) that subsequently becomes insolvent or goes bankrupt.

Here are the key points to understand:

  1. SBC Troubles: ABIL comes into play when an SBC is unable to meet its financial obligations. In such cases, investors who hold shares or debt in the corporation may experience a financial loss.

  2. Business Investment: To qualify for ABIL treatment, the investment must have been made by an individual in the capacity of carrying on a business. This is a crucial criterion that distinguishes it from other capital losses.

  3. Tax Benefit: The primary advantage of ABIL is its potential to provide tax relief. It allows you to claim a capital loss on your tax return, which can be used to offset capital gains realized in the same tax year. Moreover, if you don’t fully utilize the ABIL in the current tax year, you can carry it forward to offset gains in future tax years, offering long-term tax planning opportunities.

  4. Limitations: It’s essential to be aware of the limitations on the amount you can claim as an ABIL. Generally, the claim is limited to 50% of the investor’s original investment in the SBC. Any recoveries made through other means, such as insurance or compensation payments, will reduce the eligible ABIL amount.

Qualifying for ABIL

Not all investment losses qualify as ABIL. Specific criteria must be met, including:

  • Business Purpose: The investment must have been made in the course of carrying on a business. This means that it’s typically not available for personal investments.

  • SBC Status: The corporation in which you invested must be a small business corporation according to the tax regulations.

  • Timing: The investment loss must be realized in the year in which you claim the ABIL or in the prior year.

Tax Implications

Claiming an ABIL can have significant tax implications. By offsetting capital gains, you can reduce your taxable income, potentially lowering your overall tax liability. This can be particularly advantageous if you’ve experienced significant losses from your SBC investments.

Seek Professional Advice

While ABIL can provide valuable tax relief, the rules surrounding it can be complex. Therefore, it’s highly advisable to consult with a qualified tax professional before claiming an ABIL on your tax return. This ensures that you meet all the criteria and make the most of this tax-saving opportunity while staying compliant with tax regulations.

In conclusion, Allowable Business Investment Loss (ABIL) in Canada is a tax provision that offers potential relief to individuals who have invested in struggling small business corporations. Understanding the rules, limits, and implications of ABIL can help you make informed decisions about your investments and tax planning. Remember that seeking professional advice is a crucial step in utilizing this tax benefit effectively and ensuring your financial well-being.

If you would like to seek some professional advice, we are here to help! Come chat with us and we can provide you with some insights today.