Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program

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The information on this page replaces the information in Guide RC4004, Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, which has been discontinued.

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This page has information employers and liaison officers need to help foreign workers employed in Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program meet their tax obligations in Canada.

A liaison officer is a foreign government official, usually working at an embassy or a consulate in Canada, who is responsible for administering the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program for workers from that country.

How are seasonal agricultural workers taxed in Canada

Depending on certain factors, foreign seasonal agricultural workers may have to pay income tax in Canada. This page explains how to determine whether you should withhold tax from a worker's earnings and, if so, how much tax to withhold.

In Canada, taxation is based on residency. Therefore, a worker's residency status will affect how the worker is taxed in Canada.

The workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program are:

Double taxation

A tax treaty between Canada and the worker's home country ensures that the worker does not have to pay tax twice (double taxation) on the same income. If Canada does not have a treaty with the home country, the worker may have to pay tax in both countries on the same income. In this case, the liaison officer should contact the tax authority in the worker's home country to determine whether the amount of tax payable to that country can be reduced by the amount of tax paid to Canada.

Employer withholding

Seasonal agricultural workers from foreign countries who have regular and continuous employment in Canada are subject to tax deductions in the same way as Canadian residents.

You can find general information on withholding requirements in Guide T4001, Employers' Guide – Payroll Deductions and Remittances

Waiver from withholding tax

The CRA can grant a waiver from withholding tax in certain situations. If a tax treaty exists between Canada and a worker's home country, a certain amount of employment income may be exempt from Canadian tax, based on the "dependent personal services" provision of the treaty.

If a worker is already entitled to claim personal amounts that are higher than the treaty-exempt amount, liaison officers should not request a waiver. However, when a waiver would be beneficial, a liaison officer can request a waiver on behalf of that worker. The liaison officer can get this waiver from one of the tax services offices and must then give it to the worker's employer. As long as the worker's earnings are not more than the treaty amount, you are not required to withhold tax from the worker's earnings.

However, you must continue to deduct CPP contributions and EI premiums. For more information, see T4001, Employers' Guide – Payroll Deductions and Remittances.

Tax treaties exist between Canada and the following countries that have workers participating in the program: Barbados, Jamaica, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago. Workers from these countries may meet the treaty requirements for exempt income if they are present in Canada for less than 183 days. The threshold amounts in the treaties are as follows:

If a worker's employment income is less than the threshold amount, the entire employment income is exempt from Canadian income tax. However, if a worker's employment income is more than the exempt amount, the entire amount of employment income is subject to Canadian income tax, not just the amount that is more than the treaty-exempt amount. A seasonal agricultural worker may be entitled to a refund. For more information, see Filing an income tax and benefit return for a worker.

Filing an income tax and benefit return for a worker

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