News in Brief

2019 auto-related rates unveiled | 2019 ceilings for housing benefits announced | Nova Scotia’s minimum wage set to rise to $11.55

2019 auto-related rates unveiled by government

OTTAWA — The government-prescribed rate used to calculate the taxable benefit for an employee’s personal use of an employer-provided automobile is 28 cents per kilometre for 2019, the federal Finance Department announced. The rate is two cents higher than it was in 2018.

The rate for employees whose principal job is to sell or lease automobiles is 25 cents per kilometre, up from 23 cents last year.

The deduction limits for tax-exempt allowances employers pay to employees who use their personal vehicle for business purposes are three cents higher than they were in 2018. The limit is 58 cents per kilometre for the first 5,000 kilometres and 52 cents per kilometre for each additional kilometre.

For the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, the limit is 62 cents for the first 5,000 kilometres driven and 56 cents following.

While the limits for the allowances represent the maximum amount that can be deducted as a business expense, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) says employers can use them as a guide to determine whether automobile allowances they pay to employees are reasonable.

When determining if an allowance is reasonable, the CRA also considers factors such as the type of vehicle and the driving conditions.

Allowances that are not reasonable are taxable benefits and must be included in an employee’s income.

2019 ceilings for housing benefits announced

OTTAWA The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has announced the 2019 ceilings for housing benefits that employers provide to employees in prescribed zones without a developed rental market. The changes reflect an increase in the shelter portion of the consumer price index.

For 2019, employers should use the following allowable ceiling amounts to determine the maximum value of housing benefits for employees in prescribed zones without a developed rental market:

For common shelter:

$198/month ($195 in 2018)

For an apartment or a duplex:

$534/month for rent only ($525 in 2018)

$260/month for utilities only ($255 in 2018)

$794/month for rent and utilities ($780 in 2018)

For a house or a trailer:

$893/month for rent only ($878 in 2018)

$395/month for utilities only ($388 in 2018)

$1,289/month for rent and utilities ($1,266 in 2018)


Nova Scotia’s minimum wage set to rise to $11.55

HALIFAX  The minimum wage for experienced workers in Nova Scotia will rise from $11 an hour to $11.55 on April 1, Labour and Advanced Education Minister Labi Kousoulis has announced.

He also said the government would implement recommendations from the province’s Minimum Wage Review Committee to raise rates by about $0.55 a year in 2019, 2020, and 2021 to better tie them to Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut Off (LICO) threshold.

With the change, the rate for experienced workers (those with at least three months’ service) is expected to increase to $12.10 on April 1, 2020, and to $12.65 on April 1, 2021. The increases include a $0.30 adjustment for the LICO plus projected inflation of $0.25.

The rate for inexperienced workers will remain $0.50 cents less than experienced workers.

WorkSafeBC may cease quarterly reporting

VICTORIA WorkSafeBC is considering eliminating quarterly reporting for employers and replacing it with a system of equal instalment payments.

Currently, employers with annual premiums of $1,500 or more must report their payroll and pay their assessments quarterly. Those under that threshold report and pay annually.

In place of quarterly reporting, employers would pay four equal instalments based on their estimated payroll. They could also sign up for automatic payments through their credit card or pay by debit.

Employers would still have to report their actual payroll and make payment adjustments at the end of the year. They would also be required to revise their payroll estimate if they determine during the year that it will “vary significantly” from the estimate they provided.

WorkSafeBC said the changes would “simplify reporting and payment requirements for employers and improve their experience.”

WorkSafeBC updating account numbers

VICTORIA WorkSafeBC is also moving from six-digit to nine-digit account numbers for employers who open new accounts with the workers’ compensation body.

It said the new way of numbering would enable its system to accommodate more employers. The change in numbering will not affect already-registered employers who have six-digit account numbers.

When checking an employer’s clearance letter status, WorkSafeBC said individuals might notice that an employer’s account number has either six or nine digits.

Both formats are valid.

Newfoundland and Labrador WHSCC making online services mandatory

ST. JOHN’S — Newfoundland and Labrador’s workers’ compensation board is making its online services mandatory for employers.

By the end of 2019, the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) says employers will be required to use its online services to do things such as submit annual returns, report injuries, request clearances, and view account information.

In a recent announcement, the WHSCC reminded employers that it no longer sends out paper copies of the Annual Employer Statement. Instead, employers must file their payroll information online by Feb. 28.

British Columbia aligns Family Day holiday

VICTORIA Beginning this year, British Columbia will celebrate its Family Day statutory holiday on the third Monday in February (Feb. 18) instead of the second Monday.

Premier John Horgan announced the date change last year, saying the move would align the province’s Family Day with similar holidays in other parts of Canada and the United States.

B.C. has celebrated Family Day since 2013. The previous government chose the second Monday for the holiday, saying a distinct day for it would allow B.C. residents to enjoy local attractions with fewer lineups and less out-of-town traffic.

Horgan, however, said a common date made more sense for businesses and families.

In Canada, the third Monday in February is also a statutory holiday in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan.

IRS warns of W-2 scams

WASHINGTON With tax season approaching, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning employers to watch out for W-2 scams and identity theft. W-2 forms are similar to T4s in Canada.

According to the IRS, W-2 scams are “one of the more dangerous email scams.”

“These emails appear to be from an executive or organization leader to a payroll or HR employee... It may start with a simple, ‘Hey, you in today?’ and, by the end of the exchange, all of an organization’s Forms W-2 for their employees may be in the hands of cybercriminals.”

The IRS said it might take weeks before payroll notices a data theft because the payroll/HR official thought they were corresponding with a company executive.

It advised employers to implement protocols for sharing W-2s and other sensitive employee information.

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