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Employing Canadians? You'll need to Understand these Payroll Taxes!

Posted by Ray Gonder

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Oct 7, 2014 7:30:00 AM

Payroll Taxes in Canada resized 600Without an understanding of payroll tax laws in Canada, you'll have a hard time operating your business. Payroll taxes are one of the most fundamental aspects of legally employing people in Canada. As soon as you hire people to work for you, you have responsibilities to pay them properly, and that includes paying payroll taxes.

Personal income taxes, both at the federal and provincial levels, are the most significant revenue sources for Canadian government. Payroll taxes account for over 40% of Canada's tax revenues, and employers pay an integral part in the government's collection of these taxes.

Canadian employers are required to register an account with the CRA, collect information about their employees, calculate deductions, and then remit various types of payroll taxes applicable for the jurisdiction, or jurisdictions, where the work was done. Here's a basic list of payroll taxes applicable using the example of two of Canada’s largest provinces:

Federal

  • Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
  • Employment Insurance (EI)

Ontario

  • Employer Health Tax

Quebec

  • Quebec Pension Plan (QPP)
  • Health Services Fund
  • Quebec Parental Insurance Plan
  • Compensation Tax
  • Workforce Skills Development and Recognition Fund
  • Commission des nores du travail

Workers' Compensation Premiums

  • All provinces will also have you needing to pay premiums into that province’s Workers’ Compensation program, for example WSIB in Ontario.

For each person in your employ, the proper amounts need to be calculated for each of the above, applicable funds (not all employees will have to pay all of these taxes). These amounts can be found by referring to the published tables for each tax or by using the CRA's online calculator. Then, you must hold the funds in trust until it's time to remit to each of the agencies.

As an employer, you will probably have to answer payroll tax questions, including the question of what all these taxes are for. Let's take a brief look at each one.

Canada Pension Plan.

Established in 1965, this payroll tax funds Canada's social insurance program, which helps to fund Canada's public retirement income system. All Canadian workers who are 18 years of age and over are required to contribute to the CPP. However, there are certain rules around CPP deductions for those workers who have reached retirement age. There is a maximum amount of CPP that each employee pays per year so once that threshold is reached you no longer have to deduct the tax for the remainder of that year. Employers match workers' contributions to increase funding to the pension plan.

Employment Insurance.

Formerly called Unemployment Insurance, this payroll tax provides benefits to workers if they lose their jobs. Canadian employees pay a percentage of their salaries into the insurance fund; the amount they receive if they lose their jobs depends on their previous salaries, the length of their employment, and the unemployment rate in their local jurisdiction.

Workers' Compensation.

Like Employment Insurance, Workers' Compensation is a form of insurance for workers who face unexpected hardship in the form of wage replacement and medical benefits. This was Canada's first social program because both workers' groups and employers hoped it would reduce lawsuits. It's still managed by local jurisdictions, as it has been since the early 20th century, and it's still funded by employers based on their payrolls. Each province has different rate groups based on the risk of the work being done. The bigger the risk, the higher the premiums the employer will pay. These rates have a tendency to change on a yearly basis across each province.

Ontario Health Tax.

Introduced in the 2004 Ontario Budget, the Ontario Health Premium contributes around $3 billion to the health care system each year. The payroll taxes remitted to the Ontario Health fund are invested directly into the health care system, and only those who are residents of Ontario must pay this tax.

For more information about payroll tax questions, especially how they vary from province to province, contact us at The Payroll Edge. Whether you have difficult questions from your employees that need to be answered or you need help becoming compliant with payroll tax laws and guidelines, we can get you the help you need. A third-party payroll tax expert can make all the difference in the way your company operates.

This article was originally posted on August 1, 2013. 

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Topics: Canadian Payroll Deductions, Ontario

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