Bonus Pay: How to properly calculated the taxes

It’s quite common for your payroll service provider to have problems with this tax. We have experience a number of reputable companies that did not have the engine built to calculate Bonus payments properly. It is your responsibility to ensure the bonus calculations are accurate to the best of your abilities.

Result of incorrect taxing on bonuses:
– employee being unhappy when filing taxes. They end of paying more instead of getting a refund.
– employers responsible for paying the CPP and EI company portions
– employers responsible for paying the all the taxes for the bonus because the employee has left and you cannot recoup the amounts.
– CRA PIER audit can be triggered which cases more headaches
– possible further audits going years back if suspected of not handling bonuses properly which amounts to much more time and money spent

A general rule to understand: CRA considers these payments as being an increase to your pay rate. Taxes are calculated on your pay rates.

Another key note: This special tax calculation is also use for irregular payments like retro pay. Review these other payment types here.

Calculating CPP on Bonuses:
The difference in calculating CPP on bonuses than a regular payment is the CPP basic exemption. You do not take the basic exemption of $3500/year (as of 2018) in consideration. Therefore take the taxable amount of the bonus (Pensionable amount) by the CPP contribution rate (4.95% as of 2018). Also provide the employer matching amount.

If the employee is exempt or has reached his maximum contribution for the year, you can ignore calculating CPP.

Calculating EI on Bonuses:
Calculating EI is exactly the same. Multiply the EI rate by the taxable amount of the bonus (Insurable Earnings). Also provide the employer contribution amount.

If the employee is exempt of has reach his maximum for the year, you can ignore calculating EI.

Calculating Income Taxes on Bonuses:

Total taxable income is less or equal to $5000
If the total the taxable income and the bonus year to date is $5,000 or less use 15% tax (10% in Quebec) for the bonus payment.

Total taxable income is greater than $5000
There are 2 bonus tax methods listed (one-time bonus or more than one bonus), however understand the concept is the same. Whether is one bonus or 52 bonuses a year, you have to include all bonus amounts year-to-date when calculating the taxes.

The employee regularly gets $1500 salary per cheque. An now you’re paying the employee $1000 bonus.

Let’s say you are bi-weekly pay with 26 pay periods a year. Take the amount of the bonus divided by the number of periods in the year = $38.46 ($1000 / 26) This now is added to the regular salary amount = $1538.46.

Calculate the taxes on $1538.46 = $211.58 (assuming using claim code 1 with no pre-tax deductions, or taxable benefits in Ontario)

Calculate the taxes on the regular salary amount $1500 (you can refer to last pay run) = $204.38 (assuming using claim code 1 with no pre-tax deductions, or taxable benefits in Ontario)

Subtract the difference = $7.20 (211.58 – 204.38)

Annualize the taxes per year: $7.20 multiple by 26 pay period = $187.20

Regular Taxes = $204.38, Bonus Taxes = $187.20 Total Taxes Paid = $391.58

CRA provides good information here on how to calculate bonus taxes