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Gov’t of Canada targeting retail workers with employee discount tax

A spokesperson for Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier confirmed that her office is reviewing the proposal, which appears in the latest version of the tax folio from the Canada Revenue Agency.

The proposal is to tax employee discounts as income based on the amount of money saved. Under the proposed change, employee discounts would be counted as income, and the value of that discount would need to be taxed at “equal to the fair market value of the merchandise purchased, less the amount paid by the employee.” Exceptions would only be made on discounts that are afforded to some members of the public at some point during the year.

The latest version of the Canada Revenue Agency’s tax folio advises employers that “when an employee receives a discount on merchandise because of their employment, the value of the discount is generally included in the employee’s income,” with the value of the discount assessed at “equal to the fair market value of the merchandise purchased, less the amount paid by the employee,” unless the discount is “available to the public or a segment of the public, at some point during the year.”

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre issued a statement Monday saying the change means the government plans to tax things like a 10 per cent shoe discount offered to shoe salesmen, a meal discount offered to a waitress or a free gym membership given to a fitness trainer.

Before the change, which some expect to come into effect Jan. 1, employers were advised to tax employee discounts only if the employee was purchasing the merchandise below the employer’s cost.

Not only would the change “target those who can least afford to pay more,” according to Poilievre, but it means local business owners will have the headache of needing to “track all of these discounts.”

Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier said in a written statement that the CRA’s goal is “to ensure that the agency does not impose additional administrative burdens on businesses.”

With a report from CTV’s Kevin Gallagher

ctvnews.ca/politics

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