How should employers consider Canada’s Emergency Wage Subsidy in setting their transfer prices?

As of September 13, 2020, close to 1.1M Canadian employers had applied for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”) to cope with the effect of the Covid19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. This wage subsidy is available for Canadian companies that experienced significant decrease in revenues since March 2020.

According to the most recent version of the CEWS, Canadian employer can be eligible to the wage subsidy if the decrease in their qualifying revenue meet the required threshold for the period, even if all or substantially all of their revenues are from sales to a non-resident corporation, who then sells to arm’s length customers.

Consequently, it is important for these Canadian eligible employers to understand how to treat the wage subsidy for transfer pricing purposes.

TPM-17: CRA’s Position on the Treatment of Government Assistance for Transfer Pricing Purposes

CRA’s position on the treatment of government assistance in the context of a transfer pricing analysis is described in a transfer pricing memorandum (TPM-17) that was published back in March 2016.

According to TPM-17, when a taxpayer receiving governmental assistance uses a cost-based transfer pricing methodology to determine the transfer price of goods, services, or intangibles sold to a non-arm’s length non-resident person, the cost base should not be reduced by the amount of the government assistance received, unless there is reliable evidence that arm’s length parties would have done so given the specific facts and circumstances.

CRA has confirmed that its position has not changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic at a roundtable held on September 15 by the Canadian branch of International Fiscal Association.

In fact, a representant of the Competent Authority Services Division mentioned that CRA expected the temporary assistance provided to Canadian taxpayers to remain in Canada, and not be used to reduce the transfer prices charged to foreign entities. He also did not provide examples of the market evidences that CRA expected from a taxpayer that decides to offset its costs against the assistance received in determining its transfer prices.

In light of this, it seems that it will be very difficult for a Canadian employer that receives the CEWS or other COVID-19-related government assistance to justify a reduction of the transfer prices charged to a related non-resident.

Reliable Evidence?

One of the biggest complain about TPM-17 is that the term “reliable evidence” is not defined in the document, and that there is no clear indication on how to demonstrate that cost-base used in the calculation of the transfer prices should be reduced by the amount of the assistance received because arm’s length parties would have done so. This critic is often heard from multinational group that have invested in R&D service center in Canada to benefit from the tax incentives provided by all levels of governments.

Although not specifically mentioned in TPM-17, it is reasonable to think that a reliable evidence would be a situation where a taxpayer that provides services to both related and arm’s length parties is able to demonstrate that its profitability on services provided to related parties is in line with the profitability on services provided to arm’s length parties.

Reliable evidence is even harder to demonstrate when a Canadian taxpayer acts as a service provider for the exclusive benefit of related entities. In that situation, one way to demonstrate that the profit earned by the service provider is arm’s length could be to calculate the markup on total costs (not reduced by the amount of government assistance received), and see if this lower markup on costs is still within an arm’s length range of markup on costs earned by comparable service providers.

22 Sep 2020  |  Written by :

Marie-Pierre Pelletier is a taxation expert at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. Contact her today!

See the profile

Next article

Jean Martel
Senior Manager | M. Ps., Psychologist | Management consulting

Look beyond your workforce’s current skills to assess their potential and you might just find a diamond in the rough.

Gone are the days when workers spent their entire career within a single organization. According to a 2018 report from the recruitment firm LiveCareer, today’s workers spend an average of 3.8 years with an employer. This number is even lower among younger generations like millennials. In fact, while the average employment duration was 8 years for baby boomers, it was just 5.4 years for generation Xers and a mere 2.4 years for millennials.

This mobility creates major recruitment and retention issues for employers, and the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped ease the pressure. An Angus Reid survey found that in Quebec, 41% of respondents who are currently employed are either actively looking for a new job or plan to do so within the next year, once market conditions improve. Here’s what workers are looking for:

  • Personal development opportunities;
  • Sense of belonging within the workplace;
  • Recognition from the employer;
  • Being given responsibilities;
  • Good relationships with colleagues and managers;
  • Competitive compensation.

Now more than ever, organizations are faced with the challenge of helping employees achieve their professional development goals, even though workers are increasingly inclined to change employers regularly. At the same time, organizations have to promote a management philosophy that encourages professional wellbeing. So, what’s the best strategy for meeting these goals? It can start as early as the recruitment phase.

Recruiting for today—and tomorrow

Traditionally, recruitment specialists review resumes to see whether candidates meet the criteria for a specific position. Do they have the right level of education? Will they bring the right skills to the table? Is their past experience relevant to the challenges that the job entails?

Next, recruiters interview candidates to further assess their skills and compatibility with the manager, team, workplace and conditions. The purpose of all this is to find someone who meets a clearly defined need. But what happens if the employee wants to grow within their role after a few years?

There are ways to help workers develop their professional potential within an organization—and boosting their job satisfaction at the same time.

Bandeau Ressources humaines RH RCGT

Assessing potential in addition to skills

A person’s potential is their aptitude for developing new competencies in order to assume more complex roles within an organization. It’s important not to confuse an individual’s potential with their current job performance.

Performance assessments measure whether a worker is successfully completing their tasks. These evaluations don’t usually provide any indication of whether the worker has the potential to take on different or more complicated responsibilities.

There are three key factors that can influence a worker’s development potential within their organization:

Good match between the individual and the organization

The worker’s values are aligned with the company’s. People who are naturally curious, independent and looking for challenges will want to advance their careers in companies that promote innovation and accountability.

Ability to learn

Given the fast pace of change in today’s workplace, workers who are willing and able to learn new things tend to be more agile, credible and adaptable.

Personality

When determining what roles and responsibilities a candidate is suited for, some points to consider include their self-reliance, ambition, leadership skills, priority management capabilities, personal interests and ability to manage stress.

Is there a diamond in the rough within your ranks?

Could your next manager already be working for your company? Are there people within your teams who can help your organization meet its medium and long-term goals? Evaluating a person’s potential can help you answer these questions and more. By assessing each candidate’s potential, you can:

  • Make an informed choice based on a deeper understanding of the candidate and their potential to help the organization grow;
  • Understand their aspirations in order to provide them with professional development opportunities and boost their engagement;
  • Help the worker make a smooth transition into their new role or team;
  • Find out what motivates workers and how to engage them;
  • Prevent unpleasant surprises and dodge costly recruitment mistakes.

By gaining insights into each candidate’s personality, interests and values, you’ll be able to gauge whether they can grow into more complex roles. You’ll also get a better idea of how the organization can help them advance their career.

Our human resources professionals have developed a candidate potential assessment model that’s backed by a range of helpful tools. These include skills and aptitude tests, as well as personality, interest and values inventories.

Interested in learning more? Contact us to inquire about our personalized recruitment services. Our multidisciplinary team will be pleased to connect you with the right solutions for your needs.

This article was written in collaboration with Mathieu Beaudoin, Human Resources Advisor.

22 Sep 2020  |  Written by :

Mr. Martel is your expert in potential assessment at the Sherbrooke office. Contact him today!

See the profile

Next article

The Grant Thornton International IFRS team has updated the document Insights into IFRS 16 – Lease term.

The document Insights into IFRS 16 – Lease term was updated to reflect the latest thinking in this area, including the November 2019 Agenda decision on Lease Term and Useful Life of Leasehold Improvements issued by the IFRS Interpretations Committee (IFRIC).

The document now covers how an entity determines the lease term of a cancellable lease or a renewable lease and provides additional examples in this regard.

The issue

Determining the lease term under IFRS 16 is significant.

Firstly, the longer the lease term, the larger the lessee’s right-of-use asset and lease liability will be.

Secondly, the length of the lease term determines whether a lease qualifies for the short-term lease exemption.

Finally, IFRS 16 contains additional application guidance on how to deal with periods covered by options to extend or terminate a lease. While the new detailed guidance can be helpful, it also means there is more to consider when determining the lease term.

This document explains the key aspects of determining the lease term at commencement date and when it should be reassessed.

The Insights into IFRS 16 series provides insights on applying IFRS 16, Leases, in key areas. Each edition focuses on an area of IFRS 16 to assist you in applying the guidance in the standard.

Next article

Jeannette Boulanger
Manager | CPA, CA, M. Sc. | Human resources consulting

Are you planning to transfer your business to a promising successor? Take the time to do it right, step by step, with a structured and integrated approach.

Quebec’s economy relies on a large number of SMEs. The numbers say it all: Quebec is home to nearly 240,000 businesses with less than 99 employees and another 4,300 with 100 to 499 employees. Combined, these companies account for more than 87% of all jobs in the province.

The pandemic has had serious repercussions on the economy. Uncertainty and anxiety have cast a shadow over many businesses. For a lot of entrepreneurs, the health crisis has prompted hard questions on both professional and personal matters. Work-life balance, personal success, relationships, health and wellbeing have emerged as important values.

Not to mention the fact that 35% of Quebec entrepreneurs are 55 or over, and the average business owner is 49. At this stage of a person’s working years, it’s only natural to start thinking about what comes next.

Bandeau Ressources humaines RH RCGT

Successfully transferring a business takes time—and a plan

It’s important to take a structured and integrated approach to the entire transition process. Economic statistics show that business ownership changes fail 70% of the time in Quebec and across Canada. Moreover, just 10% of business owners have a successor in mind.

An entrepreneurial succession professional can help you make the right decisions. Their role is to anticipate potential problems, facilitate communication between all parties and help stakeholders make smart business decisions.

There are different types of ownership transfers. It’s up to you to decide which one works best for your business, employees and customers.

Ownership transfers should be gradual and involve 2 to 8 years of preparation.

Your options include:

  • Transfer to a family member;
  • Transfer to a company manager, employee or even the board of directors;
  • Sell to a third party.

A company’s spirit is defined by the people behind it. Creating a business succession plan is like planning a road trip: you need to decide where to stop along the way in order to ensure a smooth journey to your destination. The itinerary should include pausing to consider various legal, financial, tax, strategy and human considerations.

A people-focused process

Human resources professionals can help sellers and buyers with their respective tasks in order to protect the company’s long-term viability. We recommend an eight-step process involving different stakeholders:

  1. Hold an initial meeting with the outgoing owner in order to gain an understanding of the business context, assess their expectations for the ownership transfer, and discuss prospective projects.
  2. Meet with all involved stakeholders to review the next steps.
  3. Conduct one-on-one meetings with each potential buyer to assess their interests and intentions.
  4. Carry out psychometric evaluations for each potential buyer as well as the seller if he or she plans to stay involved in the company.
  5. Review the test results with each respondent and hold a group meeting to share the findings while also encouraging effective communication and a culture of sharing between all parties.
  6. Develop a plan for onboarding the buyer(s) based on their strengths and interests, and discuss their roles and responsibilities to ensure a smooth transition.
  7. Present the report to the seller and discuss each party’s new roles and responsibilities.
  8. Provide management support and coaching to ensure the transition process is aligned with the business’s objectives, as well as those of the seller and buyers.

Each step in the process is important and gives you the opportunity to determine whether the buyer is a good fit for the company’s needs. Finding the right match is crucial for the transfer’s success. After all, just because someone wants to make it work, doesn’t mean they can. Running a business is challenging and prospective owners require certain skills, including those listed below.

Work management skills

  • Results-oriented;
  • Initiative and action-oriented.

Interpersonal skills

  • Persuasive;
  • Strong networking abilities;
  • Effective communicator.

Leadership skills

  • Strategic vision;
  • Managerial courage;
  • Gets the job done.

Self-awareness

  • Stress management and emotional control;
  • Independent;
  • Persevering;
  • Humble.

There are various skills assessment tools available on the market, including personality tests, cognitive ability tests, in-basket tests, structured interviews, and more.

Working with a human resources advisor can help you gain a better understanding of a person’s strengths and weaknesses, and allow you to compare their profile against the company’s needs and values. This can help prevent problems down the road, while also ensuring a smoother transition for the new business owner. All of these factors are important for a successful business ownership transfer.

Interested in talking to someone about your situation? Contact us to find out more about our personalized business ownership transfer services. Our multidisciplinary team can offer the solutions you need.

This article was written in collaboration with Marie-Eve Authier, Human Resources Advisor.

17 Sep 2020  |  Written by :

Jeannette Boulanger is a Human Resources Consulting expert at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. Contact...

See the profile