Since a non-resident employee of a non-resident employer attending or making presentations at a conference is considered to be in Canada performing employment services, the non-resident employer is normally required to withhold tax from the employee's remuneration unless the employee has received a waiver of the withholding tax. In most cases, if there is a tax treaty between Canada and the employee's country of residence, and the employee is only in Canada for the purposes of attending the conference, the employee would be exempt from tax in Canada under that treaty.
At the Canadian Tax Foundation's 2012 Annual Conference in November, the CRA announced a change in its administrative policy such that it would no longer require a Regulation 102 waiver for a non-resident employee coming to Canada to attend a conference. The CRA said it would soon make an announcement clarifying that a non-resident attending a conference for professional development purposes (i.e., he or she is not carrying on business in Canada) would not have to go through the Regulation 102 waiver process.
The CRA now provides administrative relief for non-resident employees of non-resident employers attending conferences in Canada where the employee will be in Canada for 10 days or fewer, and will earn less than $10,000 from services in Canada for the year (for U.S. residents) and $5,000 from services in Canada for the year (for residents of a tax treaty country). Where these conditions are met, an employee will not be required to obtain a waiver of withholding tax and CRA will not assess the employer penalties for failure to withhold.
The CRA notes that this administrative relief applies only to the days associated with the conference. The employment income associated with the conference generally does not have to be reported on a T4 slip. If the employee is providing other employment services in Canada, the employer is still obligated to withhold.
The CRA defines a conference as a formal meeting, attended by a minimum of 30 participants that work for the same employer or different employers, for professional purposes. In addition, the participants of a qualifying conference cannot:
- Provide any services for which their employer is receiving a fee from another person
- Solicit business on behalf of their employer
- Provide services to a parent, subsidiary or partnership related to their employer
- Market their employer's services or products
- Meet with clients regarding their employer's business.
The CRA also states that it is working towards a more comprehensive policy to address issues beyond situations for conference participants.
For more information, contact your KPMG adviser.
Information is current to February 05, 2013. The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act upon such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation. For more information, contact KPMG's National Tax Centre at 416.777.8500