Holiday Gifts

With the Holidays fast approaching it is important to discuss employee gifts & bonuses. As with most things for payroll, employee gifts have specific rules to follow.

We will start with the disclaimer that this post is only going to cover the basics of the gifting policy outlined by the Canada Revenue Agency that has to do with the holidays. We will be posting another blog in early 2019 that goes into more of the specifics of this policy overall, keep checking back for that!

If you have any questions concerning this policy please give On-Core a call, or check out the policy on the CRA website, here.


Holiday Parties

Holiday Parties are a common occurrence at this time of year. You may be thinking to yourself, “this is a post about employee gifts, what does a holiday party have to do with that?” What you may not realize is the CRA has determined an acceptable amount of money you may spend on your employees for a party. An employer is allowed to spend up to $150 per employee on an event. This must include everything, the food, drinks, ticket prices, cab fare home, etc. If you have stayed within this limit then the party is free to the employee, however if you spend over the $150 per employee the entire amount becomes a taxable benefit to your employees.


A gift is defined by the CRA as being given to an employee for a special occasion such as a religious holiday, a birthday, a wedding, or the birth of a child. Therefore, gifts for the holidays will fall into this policy.

Cash or Cash Equivalent Gifts

Cash bonuses are always a taxable benefit to your employee and must be added to their income. It always needs to go through your payroll, and therefore your payroll professional must be notified if you have given these monies outside of the normal payroll run.

One thing to note is that gift cards or certificates are referred to as a cash equivalent and must be treated as cash.

All cash benefits are pensionable, and insurable. This means that in addition to income taxes you must deduct CPP & EI.

Non-Cash Gifts

A non-cash gift is something that the employer has bought and given to the employee; this could include items like concert tickets or a turkey for the holidays. An employer has more leeway with non-cash gifts, as long as they fall into the definition laid out by the CRA mentioned above.

You can give an employee a total of $500 worth of gifts in the year before they become taxable. This means you need to be keeping track of the gifts you give out. At the end of the year if you have gifted more than the $500, this amount must be included in the employee’s income. For example, you have given $650 worth of non-cash gifts, $150 ($650 – $500) is the taxable benefit.

All non-cash benefits are pensionable, this means that in addition to income taxes you must deduct CPP & EI.

Some good news, the CRA doesn’t completely nickel and dime your employee gifts, non-cash items of minimal value do not need to be added to $500 calculation. CRA gives the following examples of minimal value items:

  • Coffee or tea
  • T-shirts with employer’s logos
  • Mugs
  • Plaques or trophies

We know this can be complicated to follow but we are here for you if you have any questions.

Paying bills and getting paid easily.

Are you being buried in cheques?  How do you get people paid easily?  How are you paying bills?  How are your employees getting paid?  Would you like this to be more automated while still having approval control?

There are 2 separate options that we use frequently:

  • Bank payment
    • Pros:
      • You can Email transfer money – though this is expensive, but it is basically instant.
      • Set up EFT system through banking
        • the setup can be expensive
        • Once set up you need to plan how many days it will take to get people paid (vendors not as critical as payroll for timing)
      • Both of these your bookkeeper can do with the correct access – depending on setup you can have them set up the payment and you approve-
        • talk to your bank and bookkeeper to set this up properly from the start
      • Can pay Vendors and Payroll
    • Cons:
      • Bookkeepers have to manually add transactions (usually) so there is a data entry component
      • Can need a separate login and setup for government remittances
      • Can get expensive depending on monthly fees and number of transactions 0 depending on your banks fees
      • Email transfers have a low daily limit that can limit what you can pay – this can get very problematic for payroll


  • Pros:
    • Transfers data from Quickbooks and Quickbooks online (no double data entry)
    • Can send money to anyone with a bank account
      • Sends a direct payment if you have the bank account number
      • Sends a paper cheque for you if you do not have a bank account number
    • Costs less monthly than the bank setup
    • Can be set up so that you need to approve the batch before it is paid – can have multiple approval levels
    • Can set up recurring AR so that it comes in automatically
    • Can pay Government remittances too.
  • Cons:
    • Need to be aware of timelines- takes longer than bank usually
      • This can be mitigated with some planning and a bank access login too
  • Ask your bookkeeper for details – we can get you set up correctly and can get available discounts

Get rid of boxes of paper – Hubdoc makes life easier.

Did you know there is a way to stop keeping all your receipts and still get all your information to your bookkeeper.  Not only that but Bookkeeper will get it real time and stop chasing you for items.

Bookkeepers can  stop calling and asking for everything- we just remind you of the few things you are missing.  Does it sound like dream?

Welcome to the technology of today.  With Hubdoc and Quickbooks online you just take a picture with your phone when you get a receipt and then throw it in a box.  We don’t want to see the receipt or the box – we just recommend you keep the paper in case you get a really picky auditor.

The Joy of Hubdoc

  • Hubdoc keeps pictures of all your receipts – in folders by vendor for you
  • Hubdoc does some of the busy work of entry – we still look at every receipt but it can be faster than flattening, sorting, entering and then filing your receipts for you.

Hubdoc pulls statements for you – we have it already.

  • Most places you log in to a website and get the statements- Hubdoc can do that
  • If the vendor emails you statements- it can be emailed directly to Hubdoc for you.

Stressless bookkeeping

  • We log into your hubdoc account and code receipts and publish to Quickbooks online for you
  • We do it closer to real time – as soon as your statement come from the bank we can reconcile
  • We know within a week if you are missing a receipt and can ask about it right away –
    • While you still remember what it is.  Not months later – what was that Walmart receipt for?
    • You might even still have the receipt in your coat pocket

Reporting when it helps you – not months later when you bring in your receipts and statements.

  • Your monthly reports can come out within a week of your bank statements most of the time – this means you can make better decisions
  • What effected last months profits?
  • What needs to change?
  • Where can I save money?
  • Did that advertising campaign bring in sales?

What you need to do:

  • Let us know you want Hubdoc and Quickbooks online
    • We will tell you if your situation is not a good fit for Quickbooks online
      • most companies are a good fit now
  • We set up the Hubdoc and Quickbooks online accounts
  • They bill us, we bill you
    • Bookkeepers get a discount and can pass the savings on to you
  • You log into Quickbooks online and connect your bank feeds
    • We can walk you through this if needed
  • Come in and we show you how it works
    • How to connect your bank, credit card, utilities….
    • How the app works on your phone
    • Options for getting your information into Hubdoc
    • put all your receipts into Hubdoc
    • Wait for your reports- or login to Quickbooks online

If you want to learn more – call us for a training

Hubdoc Bronze Partner

New CPP 2018 and EI 2018 Rates

The new CPP and EI rates have been released for 2018


The employee and employer contribution rates for 2018 will remain unchanged at 4.95%, and the self-employed contribution rate will remain unchanged at 9.9%.

The maximum employer and employee contributions to the plan for 2018 will be $2,593.80 each, and the maximum self-employed contribution will be $5187.60. The maximums in 2017 were $2564.10 and $5128.20.


The EI rates for 2018 are 1.66% up to the maximum annual insurable earnings of $51,700 with an max annual employee premium of $858.22 and employer max of $1,201.51.

The EI rates for 2017 were 1.63% up to the maximum annual insurable earnings of $51,300 with an max annual employee premium of $836.19 and employer max of $1,170.67.


CRA will not phone you about owing money! If there is ever any tax money outstanding on your personal or business account, CRA will send a letter to your home address they have on file.  You  will get a brown envelope asking you to call them first.  If someone calls you from the “CRA” most likely it is a phone scam.


Common Phone Scam Tactics:

  • Extremely aggressive speech. They’ll try to make you panic over your finances. (A government agency would never conduct itself like a high-pressure salesman!)
  • Threats to arrest you or get the police to go to your home if you don’t pay ASAP (CRA has no power to do this.)
  • Telling you not to talk to anyone else while you’re on the phone with the scammer (entrapment)
  • Telling you to go straight home to look up personal/banking information
  • They will hang up on you first if it sounds like you’re not complying, or are too suspicious of them
  • Scammers may also try similar methods with text messages and emails


Protect Yourself and Your Personal Information:

  • Do not disclose your SIN or BN (CRA already has this on file, they wouldn’t ask for it on the phone)
  • Do not disclose information about your bank account numbers, credit cards, etc.
  • If you receive a scam phone call (or what you suspect might be one), report it to the police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (contact info below)
  • You can call CRA yourself and ask if anything is wrong with your account (contact info below)
  • Tell them to call your Rep – that’s us – don’t tell them who your rep is the real CRA knows and they have no problem calling us to work through issues.
    • If we have done your taxes we are on your account as a Rep.
    • If we do your business books we got you to fill out the RC59 and we are your Rep.
  • If you really do owe money we have ways to pay it without giving the CRA any information- they do not want it over the phone anyway.



Phone: 1-800-959-8281 (individual tax enquiries line)

Business: 1-800-959-5525 (business tax enquiry line)

My Account for Individuals:  sign up to access your personal tax information online

Fraud section of the CRA website with examples of scam calls.




Phone: 1-888-495-8501

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM – 4:45 PM (Eastern Time)

Online Fraud Reporting System:  requires either a GC Key or an online banking Sign-in Partner

What to Do if You’re a Victim: Fraud Center


If you have any questions call us and we can help you with it – do not let a phone call stress you out – if they are aggressive it is a phone scam.

Where did my money go? CRA Seizing accounts

Do you owe money to the CRA?

Next time you look at your bank account you may be in for a big surprise!

The CRA has been seizing accounts lately for back payments without warning.  Sometimes there are payment arrangements that have been made that have gone to the wrong account – as in the attached article.

Sometimes you get one notice – you need to pay attention to the brown envelopes!!!!

Inevitably they are pulling the money the day before payroll is due and it is making running your business harder than normal.

If you owe anything to the CRA you need to watch out for this- it has happened to a few of our clients within the last week – both of which were making payments to the CRA for amounts owed.


We can pay and monitor your CRA balances and ensure the payments made are going to the correct place – contact us for details

December 31, 2017 Payroll Changes Alberta

Payroll changes are coming December 31, 2017– How will they affect your business?

As of December 31, 2017 the Alberta Labour laws are changing – these payroll changes will effect your business if you have any of the below that apply.

General holiday and general holiday pay

  • The requirement to have worked for 30 days in the 12 months before the holiday will be removed. The distinction between regular and non-regular days of work will be eliminated.
  • General Holiday pay will be calculated as 5% of wages, general holiday pay, and vacation pay earned in the 4 weeks immediately preceding the holiday.
  • This means that the 5/9th rule is disappearing and that the employees are immediately eligible for stats once they start work.


  • Overtime banking must be banked at 1.5X rather than hour for hour
  • Overtime can be banked for 6 months
  • Anyone who is banking time should contact a payroll specialist to ensure their overtime is being properly reported starting December 31, 2017 – this should be looked at before the deadline.

Compressed Work Weeks (Averaging agreements)

  • Must be supported by majority of employees or contained in union agreement
  • Employers and Employees agree on average hours over 1-12 week periods.

Rest Periods

  • Employees must be given a 30 minute break (paid or unpaid ) every 5 hours – can be in 2- 15 minute breaks


  • Some clarification on what deductions are allowed – this is a complicated payroll item and should be reviewed with a payroll expert


For further clarification contact us or

The Alberta Government website is here

For most of our companies the Stat, Overtime and leaves will have the most effect – if you are in an unusual industry or farming there are other changes that you might need to be aware of.  Contact our payroll specialists for more information now.


CRA My Payment – How to Pay the CRA.

A question we get frequently is “I have this CRA bill – how do I pay it?”

There are several options to make a CRA payment

  1. We can pull the money from your bank account and pay the CRA for you
    • You will need to fill out the correct forms with us
    • We pull money from your bank around the 10th and 20 to pay the 15th and end of month
    • We charge a small fee – but will handle it and make sure it is paid correctly
    • Works with any bank
  2. Using the form from the government go to the bank.
    • This will only work if you have the original form as it has electronic ink.
    • If you do not have the form this method will not work
  3. If you have online banking you can log in and see if you can pay through your bill payment area
    • Some bank accounts you need to set this up
      • With some banks it is a whole different login than the one you usually use and can take quite a while to set up.
    • This can cost bank fees depending on your bank and bank package
    • This will usually pay the next business day
  4.  Use CRA My Payment
    • You will need a bank login or a Visa/ Mastercard DEBIT card
    • Does not work with ATB logins
    • You need to know exactly what you are paying
      • Make sure you know which month you are remitting for for your PD7A (should be at the top of your PD7A)
      • Arrears needs to be paid to arrears.
      • Do not combine payments for different months or sections into 1 payment- it will cause issues in fixing them later.
      • You may have to pay bank fees for using this option depending on your bank and bank package
    • This payment will be approved and paid on the same day
      • Great if you are paying at the last minute and want to avoid the 10% PD7A penalty

If you need help with any of these methods contact us and we will walk you through it.

Proposed Tax Changes 2017 – Will they effect you?

There has been a lot of talk in the media about the proposed tax changes that according to the government will “close loopholes” but according to accountants and small business owners will harm small business.

What do you need to know about the proposed tax changes?

There are 3 proposed changes:

  1. Income sprinkling
    1. Basically if you are dividing income between shareholders or household members this will effect you – possibly very negatively.
    2. Discussion is that any amount paid to someone who did not earn it (as you would in an arms length transaction) would get taxed at the maximum tax rate.
    3. Will also effect capital gains allowed by minors or held in family members.
  2. Passive income
    1. If you hold money in your business as a rainy day fund or for later income and invest it into anything besides the business the tax on this investment will be at a much higher rate than currently.
  3. Converting Income into Capital gains
    1. Goes after holding companies to add to the tax paid overall.

All of these changes will increase tax for small business owners using any of these items

For more information go to the

CFIB here  for a small business perspective


CPA- Alberta here for how the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada is  proposing changes to the legislation

Overall it is a confusing proposition and until it is tabled and discussed it will be hard to figure out how badly it will effect your business, but it will effect just about every small business.

Talk to your accountant or us for more information

Minimum Wage Changes – Alberta

On October first in Alberta there will be a new minimum wage.  What does this mean for business owners with employees?

  • The minimum wage rates have been changing yearly on October 1.  the last scheduled wage increase will be October 1, 2018.
  • If you use minimum or low wage workers you need to be aware that their wage for any hours worked October 1st and after must be at least minimum wage.
    • Your bookkeeper will need the hours before the wage change and after the wage change for the payroll this effects
  • If you have supervisors who are contracted at minimum wage + a premium their wage should increase also.
  • If you pay employees slightly more than minimum wage make sure they are getting at least minimum wage after the increase.
  • If your employees are now minimum wage because of the increase but were not before consider how being minimum wage will effect retention and employee satisfaction.
  • Do you need help figuring this out?  Contact us and we can walk you through it.

Minimum wage rates 2016-2018

The following minimum wage rates are set out in the Employment Standards Regulation:

Type of employee October 1, 2016 October 1, 2017 October 1, 2018
Most employees – General minimum wage $12.20/hour $13.60/hour $15/hour
Liquor servers (as of Oct. 1, 2016 the liquor server rate was eliminated) $12.20/hour $13.60/hour $15/hour
(including land agents and certain professionals)
$486/week $542/week $598/week
Domestic employees
(living in their employer’s home)
$2,316/month $2,582/month $2,848/month

Who does this not apply to?

The following employees are exempt from minimum wage standards:

  • real estate brokers
  • securities salespersons
  • insurance salespersons paid entirely by commission
  • students in a work experience program approved by the Alberta government
  • students in an off-campus education program provided under the School Act
  • extras in a film or video production
  • counsellors or instructors at a non-profit educational or recreational camp for children, handicapped individuals, or religious groups
  • farm employees
  • municipal police service members
  • post-secondary academic staff