CRA review Toronto Police’ “Paid Duty” and “Free Parking”

Update:

The Canada Revenue Agency has decided to review the Toronto Police force’s “paid duty” policy and the 180 officer’s a day that work it and the parking that officers use to park their private vehicle’s when they park at work.

Paid Duty:

Paid duty is jealously guarded by the rank and file of the Toronto police officers, as well as Toronto Police Service’s, Toronto Police Chief, Bill Blair.

Mayoral candidate Sarah Thompson thinks that filmmakers shouldn’t be forced to hire highly-paid Toronto police officers on “paid duty” when private security could do the job for much less.

Most paid duty assignments that off duty police volunteer to perform pays a minimum of $65.00 an hour, for a minimum of three (3) hours. These assignments are normally paid in cash and the officer performing the “paid duty” is not asked for, nor required to provide their social insurance numbers (SIN #) as is required by any employee working for an employer. Toronto police state that the CRA is notified by them of any officer picking up monies from paid duty (see paragraph 9 of the Terms of Agreement of paid duty).

Police officers on average earn thirty seven dollars and forty cents ($37.40) an hour at work, whereas when they are not scheduled in to work, paid duty will bring in $195.00 a day, even if they work an hour or not at all (if those hiring them, do not provide enough notice (12 hours) before cancelling/revising the date of the event or the film shoot)

From the City of Toronto – Toronto Police Service website, regarding “paid duty”:

Pay Duty Rates:

Rates are subject to change annually. To determine the current rate call the Central Paid Duty Office at 416-808-5048.

Paid Duty Officers are hired on an hourly basis, with a three (3) hour minimum; i.e. even if required for only one (1) hour, the minimum of three (3) hours pay will be paid.

The current hourly rate of pay is (at the time of this printing):

Constables$65.00 (minimum $195.00)
(All classifications)

Sergeants$73.50 (minimum $220.50)
(When in charge of 4 or more police officers)

Staff Sergeant $82.00 (minimum $246.00)
(When in charge of 10 or more police officers; a Police Sergeant and a Staff Sergeant will also be required.)

Staff Sergeant$84.00 (minimum $252.00)
(When in charge of 15 or more officers; a Police Sergeant and a Staff Sergeant will also be required and the Staff Sergeant will be paid at $82.00 per hour rate.)

If any equipment is used on a paid duty (i.e. cars, boats, horse, bicycle) the film company will be billed by the Toronto Police Service at the end of the month. Please refer to the  OMDC Ontario Production Guide for the current rates.

Parking Private Vehicles at Work:

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has deemed parking privileges a taxable benefit under the Income Tax Act. See story below.

Some 1,700 City of Toronto employees were ordered to pay for their parking last May. The city was forced to pay out $8 million to compensate those who were facing bills for back taxes, on parking privileges deemed a taxable benefit. The City is appealing the CRA ruling.

The CRA completed a “compliance audit” and ruled that parking spaces at the Toronto Police stations are a taxable benefit. Their is approximately 8,300 police and civilian workers who could potentially be affected by this ruling and may be forced to pay for parking retroactively at four ($4) dollars a day stretching back over three (3) years.

With most Toronto police stations easily accessible by public transit, at all hours and days, it would be interesting to know how many officers and civilians purchase Monthly T.T.C Metro Passes (and then claim them as a tax deduction on their taxable income) and travel to and from work by public transit, how many carpool with colleagues and how many actually have no other choice but to drive to and park their private vehicles at work at Toronto Police stations?

The Union representing Toronto Police is demanding that the City of Toronto cover their court costs to appeal a new tax ruling that will force officers to pay for parking.

There isn’t enough parking spots for police and civilians working out of Toronto Police 52 division station, located on Dundas Street West, west of University Ave and east of McCaul Street on the south side of Dundas Steet West. There is construction that has been taking place in the parking garage under 52 division and since it has been filled with private vehicles, the police cruisers have been moved out of the garage and parked in front of the station. This area, normally utilized by the public as a pedestrian plaza, has now been turned into a parking lot and fenced off to prevent any public access.

What does the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) say about “free parking” and whether or not would constitute a taxable benefit?

See an exerpt from the CRA below:

Employee Benefits

The CCRA has recently lost a case dealing with whether free parking provided to employees constitutes a taxable employment benefit. In the case of Daniel Q.S. Chow and Brian Topechka v. The Queen (2001 DTC 164, [2001] 1 CTC 2741), the individuals were employed as middle managers with Telus Management Services Inc.

The employer provided them with free parking at its parking
garage located next to the location where the employees worked. Mr. Chow worked until 8:00 most evenings and public transportation was not easily accessible at that time.

Similarly, Mr. Topechka started work at 5:00 in the morning and could not avail himself of public transit at that early hour. The employer would reimburse the cost of taxis in those situations where an employee was required to start early or work late.

By providing free parking in these cases, the employer did not incur any extra taxi expenses, and it benefited from having the employees available to work in the early and late hours. The court found that there was no benefit because the primary beneficiary of the free parking was the employer in this situation.

Question 1

Does the CCRA agree with this case?

Response 1

First of all, let me state that the CCRA recognizes the administrative burden for employers when dealing with employee benefits. We therefore need to take reasonable positions without compromising the overall purpose of the taxing provisions.

With respect to this particular case, it was heard under the informal
procedure and the decision was based on its specific facts. We feel that this decision will be limited in its application because of the particular facts.

Essentially, it was decided that the employer-paid parking benefited the
employer more than the employee.

Question 2

How does the decision in this case impact the CCRA’s position on employer – provided parking?

Response 2

We do not feel that the decision changes our policy on employer-provided parking. The Employers’ Guide – Taxable Benefits is quite clear and basically states:

– that when an employer provides free or subsidized parking, the employee is considered to have received an employment benefit based on the FMV of the parking spot;

– we recognize that there may be situations where the FMV of the employer – provided parking is difficult to determine, such as where free parking is generally available to employees and the general public, or when there is a limited number of parking spaces and parking is on a first come, first serve basis. In these cases, no benefit will arise;

– where the parking is provided for business reasons, and the employee is regularly required to use their vehicle for employment – related purposes, the employee will not be considered to have received a taxable benefit.

There are other cases, in addition to Chow v. Canada above, which have addressed this area: Dhillon v. The Queen, 2002 CanLII 991 (T.C.C.), Adler v. The Queen, 2007 TCC 272 (CanLII)

This is the information that the Canada Revenue Agency provides on their website with respect to “parking” as a taxable benefit that the employer must submit on behalf of their employees:

Parking

Questions and answersAnswer a few questions to determine whether there is a taxable benefit.

Parking you provide is generally a taxable benefit to the employee, whether or not you own the lot. The amount of the benefit is based on the fair market value of the parking minus any payment the employee makes to use the space.

If you cannot determine the fair market value, do not add a benefit to the employee’s remuneration. This could happen in the following situations:

  • a business operates from a shopping centre or industrial park where parking is available to both employees and non-employees; or
  • an employer provides scramble parking (there are fewer spaces than there are employees who require parking and the spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis).

NOTE: If you provide enough parking spaces for all employees who require parking, but do not assign the parking spaces to individual employees, this is not scramble parking. You must add the benefit to the employee’s remuneration.

If the employee has a disability, the parking benefit is generally not taxable, see Disability-related employment benefits.

There is no taxable benefit for employees when the two following conditions are met:

  • you provide parking to your employees for business purposes; and
  • employees regularly have to use their own automobiles or ones you usually supply to perform their duties.

Note
Travel between work and home is not considered travel for business purposes.

To determine if an employee has received a benefit, each case must be examined based on the facts. If you are not sure if employer-provided parking is a taxable benefit contact any tax services office.

You have to include any GST/HST that applies in the value of this benefit.

What the Income Tax Act states:

Inclusions

Amounts to be included as Income from Office or Employment

6. (1) There shall be included in computing the income of a taxpayer for a taxation year as income from an office or employment such of the following amounts as are applicable

Value of Benefits

(a) the value of board, lodging and other benefits of any kind whatever received or enjoyed by the taxpayer in the year in respect of, in the course of, or by virtue of an office or employment, except any benefit

(i) derived from the contributions of the taxpayer’s employer to or under a registered pension plan, group sickness or accident insurance plan, private health services plan, supplementary unemployment benefit plan, deferred profit sharing plan or group term life insurance policy,

(ii) under a retirement compensation arrangement, an employee benefit plan or an employee trust,

(iii) that was a benefit in respect of the use of an automobile,

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5 comments

  1. Greetings from Idaho! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to check out your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, superb blog!

  2. Thanks for posting this information. Though not the intent of your article, it does reference the parking situation at the police station for Division 52 and provides a further entitlement the Toronto police now assume as their right.

    I live in the neighbourhood and regularly observe private cars parked on St. Patrick St. in a stretch posted as for police vehicles only and where these vehicles are not ticketed in contrast to private vehicles parked elsewhere on the street. When on one occassion I asked the ticketing officer why this would be he first indicated the vehicles in question were police vehicles and when I questioned that assessment he simply shrugged and told me to bring it up with the desk sergeant.

    Similarly, the rear parking lot of the police station is full of private vehicles while the actual police cars are parked in the front on what is intended as a pedestrian plaza.

    And oh yes, there are plenty of parking lots within a minute walk of the station.

    So not only do the police get free parking as a perk, they also are immune from parking illegally. If only the CRA could consider this a taxable benefit.

  3. Hi Ryan:
    I’m glad that you found this article informative. The reason it was written was to ensure that employers and employees alike understood the CRA rules and to protect themselves accordingly. When we receive an unexpected letter and resulting bill from the Canada Revenue Agency (the”CRA”), which we didn’t consider budgeting for, it always hurts. Everyone should be informed.

  4. Thanks for sharing the informative article on paid duty and free parking for employees. I’ve found some good questions and their responses in the article related to parking and its taxable benefits to employees. It makes not only the employees but employers aware of the parking benefits. It helps the employers to know when they should provide taxable and non-taxable parking benefit to their employees.

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