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Shareholders’ Equity

December 13, 2016

Tax Question:

What is Shareholders’ Equity?


Shareholders’ Equity is often used to measure the net worth of a company. It is used to assess the financial strength of a company.


Shareholders’ Equity (also commonly referred to as Owners’ Equity) comes from two sources:

  1. Share Capital – Capital directly invested in the company by the shareholders
  2. Retained Earnings – Profits that have been reinvested into the company rather than paid out to the shareholders through dividends

Shareholders’ Equity can be calculated in two ways:

  1. Assets less Liabilities
  2. Share Capital plus Retained Earnings

For example, Company ABC has Assets of $100,000, Liabilities of $50,000, Share Capital of $1,000 and Retained Earnings of $49,000:

  • Share Capital = $100,000 – $50,000 (Assets – Liabilities) = $50,000 or Share Capital = $1,000 + $49,000 (Share Capital + Retained Earnings) = $50,000

The Shareholders’ Equity reflects the financial health of a company. If the company has had profitable years and has reinvested the profits into assets of the company, it will have a positive Shareholders’ Equity. If the company’s losses exceed its profits, or if Liabilities exceed Assets, the company will have a negative Shareholders’ Equity. Positive Shareholders’ Equity represents the amount that would be returned to shareholders should the company liquidate. Negative Shareholders’ Equity means the company does not have enough assets to cover its debt. A company with negative Shareholders’ Equity may be at risk of loan default or bankruptcy.

If you would like more information on this topic, please contact a member of the Empire CPA team by filling out the contact form below.

Canadian and foreign tax laws are complex and have a tendency to change on a frequent basis. As such, the content published above is believed to be accurate as of the date of this post. Before implementing any tax planning, please seek professional advice from a qualified tax professional. Empire, Chartered Professional Accountants will not accept any liability for any tax ramifications that may result from acting based on the information contained above.

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