Workers, business owners worry tax change could impact bottom lines
Published Tuesday, October 10, 2017 5:15PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, October 10, 2017 5:49PM CST
Spending eight hours on her feet at a Winnipeg Chicken Chef, Melissa Rogal likes to take advantage of a 25 per cent discount on meals for staff.
"Most of the time you know just grab a quick salad or something, it's just easy access when you work in a restaurant, right," said Rogal.
That discount could soon be taxed, adding a cost to Rogal's bottom line. She says as a minimum wage earner, every dollar counts.
"Having to pay rent, pay off my student loan and I live half an hour outside the city, I have to drive in every day," she said.
A notice from the Canada Revenue Agency says employee discounts should be counted as income, and therefore taxed. The measure could impact markdowns on meals and merchandise. Exceptions would be given where the same break is offered to the public.
Chicken Chef owner Lori Lucas says the discounts help attract and keep workers at her restaurant.
"It's just a bonus to them to you know to say thanks I really appreciate you being out here and doing a great job," said Lucas.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says this could be a burden for employers who don't have the time to keep track of the discounts.
"This is going to be very complex, I have no idea how they're going to get this onto a T4 and keep account of that, and other questions abound, we've asked CRA for clarification," said CFIB’s Jonathan Alward.
It appears that clarification is coming. The federal government says it's reviewing the CRA notification.
"There have been no changes to the laws governing taxable benefits to retail employees,” said the federal revenue minister in a statement. “We are not targeting individuals working in retail. The agency issued a guidance document to mainly provide assistance for employers and is committed to further clarifying the wording of the guidance to reflect this."
As for Melissa Rogal, she hopes she still gets her discounted meal, tax free.
"I mean what's the next thing you're going to start doing, start taxing seniors’ discounts too?" asked Rogal.