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ALBAS: Should staff discounts be taxed?

Dan Albas a Member of Parliament.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Dan Albas
October 14, 2017 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Social media allows citizens to share comments, questions and concerns with elected officials in real time that can quickly demonstrate a trend.

As an example, early on this week, my social media feed along with in person meetings was filled with outrage over news that if you are an employee who receives a staff discount, that discount would now be considered a taxable benefit by the Canadian Revenue Agency.

Public reaction to this change in interpretation from the Canadian Revenue Agency has been overwhelming angry and strongly opposed. For small business owners, the thought of attempting to administer the records of documenting staff discounts was another serious concern as was a potential reduction in wages for staff that might use a staff discount.

Fortunately, there may be some positive news on this matter.

The National Revenue Minister, Hon. Diane Lebouthillier has indicated that this change in the interpretation of the tax code is not one that the Minister authorized. It has been further reported that the Minister has instructed the Canadian Revenue Agency to remove this interpretation from the Canadian Revenue Agency website.

In Ottawa circles, this is often referred to as “the Minister throwing the Department under the bus."

From my perspective, it seems clear the Minister recognized the outrage of this decision and has acted quickly to attempt to mitigate this change to the tax code.

Currently, this interpretation of the tax code is said to be officially under review while the Canadian Revenue Agency consults with stakeholders. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily mean that the Canadian Revenue Agency may not again attempt to implement a similar tax grab targeted against workers who receive a staff discount.

Given that many workers are in occupations that may not involve a staff discount I would like to hear your views on this subject.

Would you support a staff discount being considered a taxable benefit or do you prefer the status quo where discounts are left alone by the Canadian Revenue Agency?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.


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