#603: Canada Wants to Tax Your Staff Discount

Canada Wants to Tax Your Staff Discount

Record store employees! Have you heard? Now the Canada Revenue Agency wants a piece of your staff discount.

According to CTV, “when an employee receives a discount on merchandise because of their employment, the value of the discount is generally included in the employee’s income.”  They will calculate the tax by using the “equal to the fair market value of the merchandise purchased, less the amount paid by the employee.”   That is unless the discount is “available to the public or a segment of the public, at some point during the year.”  Those car deals where you “pay what the employees pay” wouldn’t count as a taxed staff discount, which is good for people who work at dealerships.  CD stores generally don’t have a “staff discount sale”.

Let’s say, just like when I was working in the Record Store, an $11.99 CD gets sold to you at the discount price of $7.99. The government now wants to tax you on the $4 discount that was the only perk of a crappy retail job.

I used to buy several CDs a week.  Let’s say for the sake of conservative estimates that I bought three CDs a week with my discount.  Let’s take the same $4 discount used in the example above, with Ontario’s 13% sales tax.  That’s $0.52 of tax now added.  $0.52 per CD on three CDs a week, multiplied by 52 weeks:  That’s $81.12 a year of brand new taxes, enough to buy several albums instead.

Conservatives are accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of exploiting Canadians who can least afford it. Lisa Raitt, Conservative Deputy Leader, said the government is “picking the pockets of minimum wage earners.” Finance critic Pierre Poilevre says the tax will “target those who can least afford to pay more”. Other commentators have noted that staff discounts will need to be rigorously tracked for taxation.

It is true. At the Record Store, a manager would simply ring in the staff sale with discount. Now, copies of receipts will have to be kept, filed and forwarded to Payroll, with the original price and discount.  This will cost businesses time, but they will have no choice but to comply with whatever law takes shape.  All paperwork would have to be kept in case of audit.

If this goes through on January 1, it will stink to high heaven.

Staff discounts on a CD, or a pair of shoes, or a meal are part of the perks of working a thankless job. It’s something people can look forward to. Celebrate passing your three month probationary period with a discounted purchase.

Who is going to pay this tax, the employee or the employer? It will hurt both regardless. Employees may have to stop taking advantage of discounts and just buy less from their places of work.  Some people only buy non-essential luxury items from work (like CDs), but what about those who get a staff discount on necessities?  That’s a part of their shrinking budget.

Canadians are tired of being nickel and dimed to death with taxes. It’s hard enough making ends meet, and this tax goes after something previously held sacred. It’s not good for Canadians and we certainly hope it does not come to pass.

UPDATE:  Feds are now denying this story and say there’s no such tax coming.   Hmmm.



Part 83: Discounts

This topic was suggested by Mr. Craig Fee of 107.5 Dave FM.  He wanted to know about discounts in the record store days.   So here goes!


Yeah yeah, I know I know.  I know the story.  You’re a DJ.  Or, the owner usually gives you a discount.  Or, the “other guy” usually haggles with you.  Or, you’re senior and you get a discount at McDonalds.  Blah blah blah blah.

So we kind of had this set deal in place, a frequent buyer card.  Buy “x” get 1 free within certain parameters.  It actually worked out to be a really good deal, if you bought low and redeemed high.  However people usually wanted a discount instead of that.  (Occassionally, a guy would DEMAND!!! a certain discount not realizing that our card was a better deal.)

I always thought it was funny when people would say, “I’m buying two.  What kind of discount can I get?”  Two?

You’d get people who say, “The case is cracked.  Do I get a discount?”

No, but I’ll put it in a brand new case for you.  Just like new now.

“You can’t give me a discount? I’d prefer that.”

No, all it needs is a new case, dumbass!

Another classic:  “Hey.  No tax on these today, right?”  Well, shit.  Maybe you should talk to Mr. Harper and Mr. McGuinty about forfeiting their cut of my sale because that one I can’t even override.

It was really, really rare that I would budge on prices.   In the early days the rules were very strict on that.  Later on they got a little more lax, but sometimes you could placate a customer by stamping their card a few extra times.  If you redeemed your card for the max value, each stamp worked out to be worth a buck.

One thing that 50% of customers never figured out:  You won’t get a discount by being annoying as fuck.  That means not calling me “buddy”, “bud”, and especially “chief”.  And if you make me run around the store to fetch 25 fucking discs before you pick 3 of them, no, you ain’t getting a discount!