|Benefits for Employees|
An employer can give employees, on a tax-free basis, up to two non-cash awards annually for employment achievements, as well as two non-cash gifts per year for special occasions such as holidays, birthdays or marriage. The total value of these awards can't exceed $500 per year, per employee, per category. This policy does not apply to the following gifts/awards, which are always taxable benefits:
Providing an employee with a cellphone or similar handheld device will not result in a taxable benefit as long as it is provided primarily for business purposes.
The provision of childcare services is not a taxable benefit, provided that the services are:
Employer-paid critical illness insurance is generally considered to be a sickness plan, and consequently, will not result in a taxable benefit.
Reimbursement for an Internet connection at home is not taxable, provided that the connection is needed primarily for business purposes.
If the employer provides overtime meals, or a reasonable allowance for overtime meals, there is no taxable benefit as long as the employee works three or more hours of overtime immediately after his or her scheduled hours of work and the overtime is infrequent and occasional (less than three times a week).
The value of parking provided is a taxable benefit -- unless the employer provides parking for business purposes and the employee is required to regularly use his or her vehicle during business hours as part of employment duties. Taxpayers have, however, been successful in challenging this benefit inclusion by showing that the employer benefited by providing parking. There is no taxable benefit where employees park in areas where no charges apply for parking or for “scramble” parking (employer-paid, first-come, first-served parking).
Professional membership fees are not a taxable benefit where the employer is the primary beneficiary of the payment -- which is presumed in most situations. This policy, however, does not apply to admission or initiation fees, since the employee is presumed to be the primary beneficiary of these fees.
Amounts paid by an employer for recreational facilities result in a taxable benefit, unless:
Where an employer arranges for a group discount or fee waiver at a club, provided the employer doesn't pay some of the fees, there is no taxable benefit associated with the savings negotiated.
Amounts paid for employment-related skills or knowledge and general business training are not a taxable benefit. Employer-provided courses on personal interest topics or unrelated technical skills are, however, taxable.
The subsidization of a weight loss program for employees is a taxable benefit, however, employer-provided counselling related to wellness does not represent a taxable benefit. This means the type of program is important in determining taxability.
The rules regarding taxability of employer-provided automobiles are complex and require a separate discussion.
These benefits – and the rules regarding their taxability -- continue to evolve, so be sure to stay current regarding how you can derive the most benefit from your employment benefits.