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The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

On April 1, 2020, the federal government provided some details about the 75% wage subsidy that was announced previously. Even with these announcements, there is still some missing guidance which we hope will arrive soon.

The overall plan is a 75% wage subsidy to “eligible employers” for up to twelve weeks retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will be an actual payment from the government to the employer.

How to Apply

Eligible employers would be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through the Canada Revenue Agency’s My Business Account portal as well as a web-based application. Employers would have to keep records demonstrating their reduction in arm’s-length revenues (as discussed below) and remuneration paid to employees. More details about the application process will be made available shortly. This means that the application process is not available as of the publication of this article.

Interaction with 10% Wage Subsidy

For employers that are eligible for both the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the 10 per cent wage subsidy for a period, any benefit from the 10 per cent wage subsidy for remuneration paid in a specific period would generally reduce the amount available to be claimed under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy in that same period. In other words, eligible employers can choose to reduce remittances up to 10% of the employee’s salary and then receive the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. However, they cannot be added on top of each other. The benefit is limited to 75%, not 85%.

Eligible Employers


Eligible employers include:

  • Individuals,
  • Taxable corporations,
  • Partnerships consisting of eligible employers
  • Non profit organizations and
  • Registered charities


Who is not included as an eligible employer?

  • Municipalities and local governments
  • Crown corporations
  • Public universities
  • Colleges
  • Schools
  • Hospitals

Key Condition- Drop In Revenues- 30%

This subsidy would be available to eligible employers that see a drop of at least 30 per cent of their revenue.

How is Revenue Calculated?

An employer’s revenue for this purpose would be its revenue from its business carried on in Canada earned from arm’s-length sources. Revenue would be calculated using the employer’s normal accounting method, and would exclude revenues from extraordinary items and amounts on account of capital.

For non-profits and charities, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their specific circumstances. This has not been clarified as of yet.

Revenue Comparisons- Eligible Periods

Eligibility would generally be determined by the change in an eligible employer’s monthly revenues, year-over-year, for the calendar month in which the period began.  In determining monthly revenues, the wage subsidy would NOT be considered in revenues.

The Eligible Periods are as follows:
Period Claiming Period Reference Period
Period 1 March 15- April 11 March 2020 over March 2019
Period 2 April 12- May 9 April 2020 over April 2019
Period 3 May 10- June 6 May 2020 over May 2019

This means that the first step is to determine if monthly revenue, year over year, decreased by 30%.  Then an eligible employer would make a claim for the above claiming period based on the salaries during the claiming period.

Each month will be a separate application.  It may be possible that a company is not eligible for Period 1 but is eligible for Periods 2 and 3.

New Employers

For eligible employers established after February 2019, eligibility would be determined by comparing monthly revenues to a reasonable benchmark.  How CRA would determine a reasonable benchmark is very unclear.

Amount of Subsidy

The subsidy amount for a given employee on eligible remuneration paid between March 15 and June 6, 2020 would be the greater of:
  • 75 per cent of the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week; and
  • the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week or 75 per cent of the employee’s pre-crisis weekly remuneration, whichever is less.
Further guidance with respect to how to define pre-crisis weekly remuneration for a given employee will be provided in the coming days. Without this clarification, a calculation cannot be made.

In effect, employers may be eligible for a subsidy of up to 100 per cent of the first 75 per cent of pre-crisis wages or salaries of existing employees. These employers would be expected where possible to maintain existing employees’ pre-crisis employment earnings.

Employers will also be eligible for a subsidy of up to 75 per cent of salaries and wages paid to new employees.

Eligible Remuneration

Eligible remuneration may include salary, wages, and other remuneration. These are amounts for which employers would generally be required to withhold or deduct amounts to remit to the Receiver General on account of the employee’s income tax obligation.

However, it does not include severance pay, or items such as stock option benefits or the personal use of a corporate vehicle.

Non Arm’s Length Employees

A special rule will apply to employees that do not deal at arm’s length with the employer. The subsidy amount for such employees will be limited to the eligible remuneration paid in any pay period between March 15 and June 6, 2020, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week or 75 per cent of the employee’s pre-crisis weekly remuneration.  That is, a non arm’s length employee cannot increase their salary after March 15, 2020 to maximize the benefit.  The entitlement will be based on what the non-arm’s length employee was earning before March 15th.

No Limit on Subsidy Claim

There would be no overall limit on the subsidy amount that an eligible employer may claim.  That is, the actual dollar amount of subsidy is only limited per employee.  The number of employees is not limited.

Employers must make their best effort to top-up employees’ salaries to bring them to pre-crisis levels.

Interaction with the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

As noted in previous publications, employees can claim $2,000 per month if they lose their job or have reduced earnings because of COVID 19.  If an employee is eligible to claim the CERB, the employer cannot claim the 75% subsidy in the 4 week period in which the employee is eligible for the CERB.  In order to claim the CERB, the employee is not supposed to have earned any income in the four week period and they have to have been out of work or unable to work for 14 consecutive days.

Taxation of Subsidy

The subsidy is fully taxable.  From a cash perspective, the tax cost of obtaining the subsidy will not be due until the eligible employer’s tax filing due date.  For a CCPC with a December 31, 2020 year end, the taxes on the subsidy would not be due until March 31, 2021.  In Ontario, the tax due would be 12.2% if eligible for the small business deduction or 26.5% if not eligible for the small business deduction.

Ensuring Compliance

If the employer does not meet the eligibility requirements and has incorrectly received the subsidy, the employer would be required to repay amounts received under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

Penalties may apply in cases of fraudulent claims.

In addition, anti‑abuse rules will be proposed to ensure that the subsidy is not inappropriately obtained and to ensure that employees are paid the amounts they are owed. The government is considering proposing to create new offences that will apply to individuals, employers or business administrators who provide false or misleading information to obtain access to this benefit or who misuse any funds obtained under the program. The penalties may include fines or even imprisonment.

Segal LLP is available to assist you through the process once the government finalizes the methodology and the web access.

US Tax Deadlines

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US Treasury Department have announced that they will be extending filing and payment deadlines for the 2019 tax year.

  • For US individuals and corporations with April 15, 2020 tax deadlines, the date has been extended to July 15, 2020
    • Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed
  • US expatriates will see their deadline extended by a month from June 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020
Note: tax refunds will continue to be issued within the usual amount of time- around 21 days from the date of filing.

Additionally, any changes to deadlines can be found on the IRS’ COVID-19 resource page here. For more information on US tax filings, please contact us and an advisor from our tax department will be happy to assist you.

Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (SUB)

With the outbreak of COVID-19, many businesses and employees are facing an uncertain future. Fortunately, the Canadian government has announced a multi-billion dollar relief package that will enable Canadians to provide for themselves and/or keep their businesses going. One of the options available to Canadian businesses through the relief package is the Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (SUB).

Employers may want to consider a SUB plan, which will supplement the wages of their employees during a period of unemployment due quarantine/self-isolation, a pause in work or training, illness or injury. Any payments made from SUB plans that have been registered with Service Canada are not considered as earnings and, therefore, will not be deducted from EI benefits.

Establishing a SUB Plan

To set up a SUB Plan to supplement EI benefits for sick leave or layoffs, please follow the following guidelines:

1) PREPARE YOUR PLAN

An example of a SUB Plan, prepared by Service Canada, is available here. The employer may select a group of employees to be covered by the plan, as long as the group does not:
  • Violate any human rights legislation;
  • Violate any existing collective agreement provisions (if any) or;
  • identify individuals by name.
    • Employees must be identified by their location, job role, etc.
The total amount of the SUB plan payment and EI benefits must not exceed 95% of the employee’s total weekly earnings.

2) REGISTER YOUR PLAN

Every employer must submit their registration package to Service Canada, located at:

Service Canada- Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) Program
120 Harbourview Boulevard
P.O Box 11,000
Bathurst, New Brunswick E2A 4T5
Telephone: 1-800-561-7923
Fax: (506) 548-7473
Email: sub-psc@servicecanada.gc.ca
The package must include:
  • A copy of the proposed SUB plan;
  • The SUB Plan registration form;
  • A copy of the current collective agreement(s), should the SUB Plan cover any unionized employee(s),;
  • A copy of the company’s insurance policy;
  • A copy of the Trust Agreement, if applicable;
  • Any company policies or guidelines containing information about the plan, and;
  • Any declarations or documents employees must sign in order to receive their SUB payment.
There is currently no guaranteed time frame from Service Canada on how long it will take to approve your plan, especially considering how inundated government services are during this time. Still, the sooner you prepare your plan, the sooner It will be processed.

Note, if you pay out any amount before the plan’s registration, those amounts are likely to be recuperated by EI. There is no word yet as to whether this may change to allow employers to pay their staff ahead of their plans approval. So until further notice, anticipate that you may need to pay back those amounts into EI.

Employers can also submit their plan for registration with Revenue Canada, which will exempt payments from being considered income from their employment. In order to submit your plan to Revenue Canada, please have your employer follow the directs provided here.

Make Sure Employees Take The Proper Steps To Access Their Plan

A SUB plan should not be used by a business that intends to permanently close but, rather, for employees who find themselves temporarily out of work. The employer should reasonably predict a date that they can expect to return to normal work and provide that date to EI as proof that the work suspension is temporary. There is, of course, some flexibility to this date as it is understood that times are uncertain and no definitive answer can be given at this time.

Employers should assist their employees with apply for a SUB plan. They should also note that employees must apply for and have received EI benefits before the SUB plan will come into effect. If the employee has not received benefits, they may still be allowed to access the SUB plan payments if they are within a one-week waiting period of receiving benefits, have less than the required amount of insurable hours of employment to qualify for EI, or if they have maxed out their EI entitlements.

In creating your SUB Plan, it should indicate:
  • A start and end date. The SUB Plan must be in place for a minimum of one year and no more than five years.  If the plan is included as part of a collective agreement, then it will be valid until the expiry of that collective agreement.
  • Identify which group of employees will be covered by the SUB Plan (I.E. every employee, full-time employees, etc.). This may include other requirements, such as minimum length of employment for eligibility.
  • Which benefits will be supplemented by the SUB Plan (regular benefits, and/or sickness benefits).
  • Whether the employer will check and verify that an employee has applied for and has received EI benefits before the SUB payments are paid
  • The total amount of the SUB payment
  • Whether employees will be paid for the one-week waiting period.
  • How long EI benefits will be topped up under the SUB Plan.
  • That a written notice of any changes will be submitted to Service Canada within 30 days of the effective date. This included changes to the name of the administrator or contact person.
  • How the SUB Plan will be financed, as there are three possible ways to finance a SUB Plan, listed below. Please not that the employer must maintain a record of all SUB payments.
    • by payments from the company’s general revenue
    • by making deposits into a trust fund established to provide the SUB Plan payments
    • by paying 100% of the insurance premiums that are required to finance the SUB payments.
  • Any and all guaranteed annual remuneration, deferred remuneration or severance pay owed to an employee will not be reduced or increased by payments made under the SUB Plan.
  • If the employer wishes, the SUB Plan may provide for an offset of EI benefits that might have to be repaid as part of the employee’s personal income tax return. The gross weekly EI benefits from employment with the company, the SUB Plan payment previously paid, plus the offset amount must not exceed 95% of the employee’s usual weekly earnings.
  • Upon termination of the SUB Plan, all remaining assets will revert to the employer, be used for SUB payments and/or be used for administrative costs of the SUB Plan.
  • An employee does not have a right to any SUB payments outside of the period of employment specified in the SUB Plan.
  • Any other conditions an employer may wish to impose (I.E. minimum length of employment before eligible, requirement to return to work for a specified time following receipt of benefits, etc.)

Before enlisting n the SUB Payment Plan, please read over the requirements for registration here.

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2019 Tax Year Filing Deadlines

Individual Deadlines

  • Filing for the 2019 tax year: June 1, 2020
  • Payment for the 2019 tax year: September 1, 2020

Self-Employed and their spouse or common-law partner

  • Filing for the 2019 tax year: June 15, 2020
  • Payment for the 2019 tax year: September 1, 2020
    • Includes the June 15, 2020 instalment payments for those who have to pay by instalments

Corporations

  • Filing for the current tax year: June 1, 2020
    • Applies to corporations that would otherwise have a filing due date after March 18 and before June 1, 2020
  • Payment for current tax year: September 1, 2020
    • Applies to balances and instalments under Part 1 of the Income Tax Act due on or after March 18 and before September 1, 2020

Trusts

  • Filing date for current tax year (including the associated T3 information return)
    • May 1, 2020 – applies to trusts with a tax year end date of December 31, 2019
    • June 1, 2020 -applies to trusts that would otherwise have a filing due date in April or May
  • Payment date for current tax year: September 1, 2020
    • Applies to income tax balances and instalments due on or after March 18 and before September 1, 2020

Charities

  • Filing date: December 31, 2020
    • Applies to charities with Form T3010 due between March 18, 2020 and December 31, 2020
  • Payment date: N/

Part XIII Non-Resident Tax

  • Filing date for the 2019 NR4 information return: May 1, 2020
  • Payment date: The 15th of each month following an amount paid or credited by residents of Canada to non-resident persons

Payroll Remittances

Information Returns

  • Filing date for the 2019 T5013 Partnership Information Return: May 1, 2020
  • Filing date for the 2019 NR4, Statement of Amounts Paid or Credited to Non-Residents of Canada information return: May 1, 2020
  • Other information returns: June 1, 2020
    • Applies to other information returns that would otherwise be due after March 18, 2020, and before June 2020
Note: we will continue to follow announcements from the government and Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) regarding deadline alterations, should there be any more changes. We will update this post if anything changes.

For now, this post is accurate as of March 31, 2020.

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Work-Sharing Program Info

Work-Sharing (WS) is an adjustment program offered by the Canadian federal government. The goal of the program is to help employers avoid laying off their employees when an unforeseen circumstance, outside of the employer’s control, bring a temporary halt or reduction to work. The WS helps to provide income assistance to employees eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits for the duration of the reduced work period until the employer is able to recover and resume their business as usual.

Essentially, the WS exists as a three-way agreement between the employer, employees and Service Canada. The employees under the plan must work a reduced schedule and even split the available work over a specific period of time until the business is viable enough to continue normal operations.

For more information on the program and/or to register, please use one of the links below.

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