Board, lodging, and transportation at special work sites

It is possible for an employee to work at a location that is both a special work site and a remote work location. However, the benefit can only be excluded from the employee's income once.

Note

If the special work site is in a prescribed zone, see Housing and travel assistance benefits paid in a prescribed zone.

Special work sites

Generally, a special work site is an area where temporary duties are performed by an employee who keeps a self-contained domestic establishment at another location as their principal place of residence. Because of the distance between the two areas, the employee is not expected to return daily from the work site to their principal place of residence.

Note

A self-contained domestic establishment (SCDE) is a house, apartment, or other similar place of residence where a person usually sleeps and eats. It is generally a living unit with restricted access that contains a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping facilities. The SCDE must be separate from any other living unit in the same building. A room in a hotel, dormitory, boarding house, or bunkhouse is not ordinarily considered to be a SCDE.

Usually, the GST/HST and PST applies on meals and accommodations you provide to an employee. In certain cases, such as long-term residential accommodation of one month or more, no GST/HST and PST applies. Where the GST/HST and PST does apply, include it in the value of the benefit.

Board and lodging at a special work site

You can exclude from income the value of board and lodging, or an allowance (not in excess of a reasonable amount) for board and lodging, that you provide to an employee who works at a special work site if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The employee's duties required them to be away from their principal place of residence or to be at the special work site.
  • The employee had to work at a special work site where the duties performed were of a temporary nature.
  • The employee kept, at another location, a self-contained domestic establishment as their principal place of residence:
    • that, throughout the period, was available for the employee's occupancy, and the employee did not rent it to any other person
    • to which, because of distance, the employee could not reasonably be expected to return daily from the special work site
  • The board and lodging, or the allowance (not in excess of a reasonable amount) for board and lodging, you provided to the employee had to have been for a period of at least 36 hours. This period can include time spent travelling between the employee's principal place of residence and a special work site.

Note

You can only exclude from income an allowance (not in excess of a reasonable amount) paid to your employee for board and lodging if they incurred the expense.

Transportation

You can exclude from income the value of free or subsidized transportation, or an allowance (not in excess of a reasonable amount) for transportation expenses, that you provide to an employee who works at a special work site if all of the following conditions are met:

  • the free or subsidized transportation, or the allowance, was for transportation  between the special work site and your employee's principal place of residence
  • the employee’s duties required them to be away from their principal place of residence or be at the special work site for a period of at least 36 hours
  • a reasonable allowance was paid to your employee for transportation expenses they will incur
  • you (or a third party) provided board and lodging, or a reasonable allowance for board and lodging, to the employee for that period

Form TD4, Declaration of Exemption – Employment at a Special Work Site

If all of the conditions listed under “Board and lodging” noted above are met, you and the employee should fill out Form TD4, Declaration of Exemption – Employment at a Special Work Site. This allows you to exclude the benefit or allowance from the employee’s income. If you fill out Form TD4, do not include the amounts in box 14, “Employment income,” or in the “Other information” area under code 30 at the bottom of the employee’s T4 slip. After you fill out Form TD4 with the employee, keep it with your payroll records.

If all of the above-noted conditions are not met, do not fill out Form TD4. Treat the total amounts as part of the employee’s income. Make the necessary deductions and report the amounts on the employee’s T4 slip. This also applies to any part of an allowance for board, lodging, and transportation that is more than a reasonable amount.

Payroll deductions

If you exclude a benefit for board, lodging, and transportation at a special work site or remote work location, it is not a taxable benefit. Do not deduct CPP contributions, EI premiums, or income tax.

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