A Canadian Small Business Employer’s Guide to T4s and T4As [Checklist Included]

November 10, 2020 Michelle Mire

Table of Contents [Quick Links]

Introduction 
What's a T4?
2020 T4 reporting requirements for wage subsidies
What's a T4A?
What's a Relevé 1 (RL-1)?
What's payroll year-end?
Payroll year-end checklist 

An introduction to T4s, T4As and Relevés

T4s, T4As and Relevés — what do they have in common, other than the fact that T4A and Relevé rhyme? Or, that you could easily refer to these things as "T4-ehs?" for all the confusion they cause. 

Don't worry, this article will help answer some of your most burning questions about T4s. 🔥

What are “said” documents? 

In their simplest forms, these documents are used by employers to report the wages and taxes included in the business' payroll and paid to each employee or contractor within a given calendar year. 

They're what you might call the “holy grail” of payroll documents. They're sent to your employees, your contractors — and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)/Revenue Québec (RQ) by the last business day of February each year.

  • If you make a mistake, there's no hiding — both the government and your workers will know.
  • Beyond trust issues, there's the pain of correcting mistakes and the risk of fines and penalties.  

Who gets a T4, T4A or RL-1?

  • T4s are given to employees and the CRA. 
    (You need to create a T4 for each province and territory in which the employee earned income.) 
  • T4As are given to contractors and the CRA.
    (Same as a T4, create one for each province and territory in which the contractor was paid.) 
  • Relevé 1s (RL-1s) are what gets submitted to RQ for workers in that province. 
    (Note: Relevé 1s are an additional item that gets submitted to RQ for Québec-based employees and contractors. Employers must also issue federal T4s or T4As. ) 

Payroll year-end?

It's all part of a process called payroll year-end, which is when businesses close the books the previous calendar year and complete all their required compliance reports and documents — mainly T4s, T4As and Relevé slips. 

This article will help you learn the basics about T4s, T4As and RL-1s. It will also show you why automating calculations and remittances using payroll software, like Wagepoint, can help you make creating these forms a lot easier each year. 

A payroll year-end checklist?

If you're old enough to remember when cereal boxes had prizes in the bottom and we were trusted not to consume this prize, it's sort of like that. We're including a payroll year-end checklist that will help breakdown the key tasks that go into creating T4s/T4As/RL-1s and ensure you're prepared this year and going forward. 

Get your very own copy of our year-end checklist. 

Complete the form below to download a helpful year-end checklist. 

Download the checklist.

What's a T4?

A T4 Statement of Remuneration Paid is an information slip that shows how much money an employee earned and how much was withheld and remitted to the government for tax purposes. It is also the form that your employees use to file their income taxes each year. 

Every year, T4 slips are required for both of the following instances:

  • Employees you’ve paid more than $500.
  • Any deductions for Canada Pension Plan (CPP/QPP) contributions, Employment Insurance (EI) premiums, Provincial Parental Insurance Plan (PPIP) premiums or income tax from an employee's pay.
  • T4s are required for every employee whether they're current, inactive or terminated.
  • T4 slips for the previous calendar year are due to employees and the CRA by the last business day in February immediately following the calendar year. 

👉 Note: You also need to create a T4 for every province and territory in which the employee earned income. 

What's included in a 2020 T4 issued by an employer?

Generally, most taxable income, allowances, benefits, deductions and pension plan contributions are included in the employer's T4 form. 

Here's an overview of some of the main boxes within a T4:

Employer's name

This is your company name. Ensure that you spell it the same way you have it in your business registration forms and reporting documents that go to the CRA.  

Employee's name and address 

This field needs to be correct so that everything matches in the CRA's system. This should be the same name you have in your payroll system. It should be formatted first name and initial. You may also use just the initials for the first and middle initial. 

DO NOT include professional titles of courtesy titles, such as director, Mr., Mrs, etc. 

Enter the employee's full address, including Canadian province or territory and postal code. 

Year 

This is the calendar year — January through December — for which you're reporting the employee's income. It's the year in which you paid the wages to the employee. 

Box 10 — Province of employment 

In most cases, this is the province or territory where the work takes place. For example, see the CRA's guidelines on determining the province of employment. But wait, there's more — you also have to use the proper two-letter abbreviation. See the list below:

Province

Abbreviation 

Alberta

AB

British Columbia

BC

Manitoba 

MB

New Brunswick

NB

Newfoundland and Labrador

NL

Northwest Territories

NT

Nova Scotia

NS

Nunavut

NU

Ontario

ON

Prince Edward Island

PE

Québec

QC

Saskatchewan

SK

Yukon

YT

Box 12 — Social insurance number (SIN)

As we all know, a SIN is like a license plate It's an identifier.  (Fun fact: SINs were first created as part of the Canada Pension Plan.) A mistake in this nine-digit code can wreak havoc. To avoid this, check your employee's SIN number when you hire them and make time to verify this at least once a year, especially for new hires. 

  • For a temporary SIN that's been replaced by a permanent SIN, enter the permanent SIN. 
  • If you don't have a SIN at all, enter all zeros. 

Box 14 — Total employment income 

This is the box where you enter the overall total for all the income paid to the employee in the calendar year. This is the “Big Kahuna” number on the T4 that includes all the types of income, including wages, bonuses, commissions, vacation pay, etc. 

The other boxes in the T4 break this number down in further detail, but this is the one that's the sum of them all. 

Box 16/17 — Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Québec Pension Plan (QPP) contributions 

If you withheld CPP contributions for the employee, you will put the total amount in Box 16. If you withheld QPP contributions, you will put that total in Box 17. If an employee is exempt from CPP or QPP, you may leave these boxes empty. Note: These amounts are only the employee's amounts, the amounts taken out at each pay — not the employer's amounts, the amounts contributed each pay.  

Box 18 — Employee's EI (Employment Insurance) premiums

This is the amount you withheld from the employee's cheque each pay for EI — up to a maximum amount which is set each year. 

Box 20  — RPP (Registered Pension Plan ) contributions

This is the total that the employee paid into an RPP. If the employee didn't contribute or participate, you may leave this box blank. This box is for direct contributions RPP only, not amounts moved from a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to an RPP or employer contributions to an employee's RRSP. 

Box 22  — Income tax deducted

This box shows the total amount of income taxes deducted from the employee’s earnings, including federal and provincial/territorial income taxes. 

Box 24 — Total EI insurable earnings

This is the amount in Box 14 (Employment income) up to the maximum EI allowable earnings for the year and less any non-EI insurable taxable benefits. 

If the employee had no EI insurable earnings and Box 18 (Employee's EI premiums) is blank, enter zero. 

Box 26 — CPP/QPP pensionable earnings 

Box 26 is usually the same as Box 14 (Employment income) up to the maximum CPP/QPP allowable earnings in the year. Notable exceptions include employees who are under 18 and those who are over the age of 70. 

If the employee had no pensionable earnings and boxes 16 and 17 are blank, enter zero. 

Box 44 — Union dues

Employers only need to fill in amounts if you and the union agree that the union will not issue receipts to employees. (Keep a copy of this agreement in your records.) This amount should only include what the employer deducted. It does not include initiation fees for strike pay. 

Box 46 — Charitable donations 

In this box, you enter any amounts withheld for charitable donations. 

Box 50 — RPP or Differed Profit-Sharing Plan (DPSP) registration number

This is the 7-digit number used for your RPP or DPSP registration. If the employee participates in more than one plan, include the registration number for the plan with the largest pension adjustment (PA). 

Box 52 — Pension adjustment (PA) 

Enter the dollar amount for the employee's pension adjustment (total pension credits for the year).
  • If you have an employee that worked in more than one province or territory, report this amount proportionally in the T4s.  If you can't portion it, report it on only one of the T4s. 
  • If the employee participates in more than one RPP and or DPSP, calculate the amount using the total credits for all the plans. 
  • If an employee is on a leave of absence and is still accruing pensionable service or credits, you must report these credits — even if the employee has no employment income. 

Leave this box blank if:

  • The calculated PA is a negative amount or zero.
  • The employee passed away.
  • The employee no longer accrues new pension credits in the year. 

Special calculations may apply for employees who:

  • Left your employment.
  • Are on a leave of absence. 
  • Participate in a salary deferral.
  • Work part-time.  

Helpful Resource: CRA Pension Adjustment Guide

Bottom rows — Other information area 

At the bottom of the T4, there are two rows of empty boxes and amounts. This is where you enter codes for "other" specific types of income that the CRA likes you to breakdown. 

  • These boxes are not pre-numbered like the boxes at the top of the T4. Instead, you enter the appropriate codes and amounts. (Full list of T4 codes.)
  • If you have more than 6 codes for one employee, you'll use a second T4. However, you only need to include your identifying business information and the employee's identifying information at the top of the second T4. 
Some of the most common codes for the other information area in the T4

Code 34 — Personal use of an employer's car or vehicle 

If you offer this benefit, use this code to note the amount here. This amount should also be included in Box 14.

Code 38 — Security options benefits

Use this code to document income from company stock (securities) or mutual funds trusts. This income is also included in Box 14. 

Code 40 — Other taxable allowances and benefits  

This is where you document taxable benefits and allowances  (subject EI and CPP/QPP) — that you didn't include anywhere else in the top boxes on the T4, other than Box 14 (Total Employment Income). 

Code 42 — Commissions

It may be rather shocking to find that this is where you list commissions. This income is also included in Box 14. 

Code 71 — First Nations (exempt income) – Employment

List wages paid to a First Nations employee. These wages are exempt from CPP/QPP.  However, you do have to deduct EI and Québec PPIP premiums as applicable. 

Code 83 — Barbers or hairdressers — Gross income

Self-employed income for barbers and hairdressers is listed here. This income is not included in Box 14. 

Where to find or calculate the amounts required to complete a T4:

If you're using payroll software, you can find the information to fill out your T4s within the Payroll Register, a report that summarizes all your year-to-date amounts (YTD amounts). This is a fancy way of saying all the totals for wages, income tax, EI, CPP/QPP and other provincial/territorial taxes.  

👉 If you're using Wagepoint and have run at least two payrolls within the same calendar year, we'll create and submit your T4s on your behalf at no extra charge. 

General guidelines for completing a T4:

These rules also apply to T4As and RL-1s: 

  • Fill them out clearly. 
  • Report all amounts, in dollars and cents.
    • Pension adjustment, reported in dollars only, is the exception. 
  • Report all amounts in Canadian dollars. 
  • Don't use either hyphens or dashes between numbers.
  • Don't add $ to any amount. 
  • Don't show negative amounts. 
  • If you don't have an amount or it doesn't apply, leave the box blank rather than enter “nil” or all zeros. (👉 Our Customer Service Team asked us to call this one out.) 
  • Don't change the box headings — this is the CRA's form, not yours. 

New T4 Reporting Requirement for Tax Year 2020

For the 2020 tax year, employers will need to comply with additional T4 reporting requirements to help the CRA validate payments made under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).

All employers must report all employment income and retroactive payments made to employees in 2020 — using information codes corresponding to four defined periods. These codes and amounts are included at the bottom of the T4 (Other Information Area). 

  • Code 57: Employment income – March 15 to May 9
  • Code 58: Employment income – May 10 to July 4
  • Code 59: Employment income – July 5 to August 29
  • Code 60: Employment income – August 30 to September 26

For example, if you are reporting employment income for the period of April 25 to May 8, payable on May 14, use code 58.

👉 Why these four reporting periods? Well, this is because this is a way for the CRA to audit CERB payments. They're doing so by correlating with the time when the TWS was active. Thanks, Juliet

Providing T4s to your employees

Unless you have your employee's permission to send their slips by mail, it's best to issue their T4s electronically. Having a secured employee portal makes it really easy for you to distribute their tax information and for your employees to access it — a win-win!

👉 Note: If you choose to send T4s by standard mail, you must get written permission from each employee to do so. 

👉 A small pitch for making your life easier:  If you're using Wagepoint, your employees can access their T4 documents through the same online portal where their paystubs are found.

wagepoint switching payroll year-end employee dashboard

Filing T4s with the CRA

If you have 50 or more employees, the T4s have to be sent electronically.

👉 If you're using Wagepoint, ensure that you've set your “auto-submit” status to “YES” (in your account settings) so that we can file your year-end forms on your behalf whether you have 5 or 50 employees.  

If you choose to file your return on paper, mail it to:

Jonquière TC
T4 Program
Post Office Box 1300 LCD Jonquière
Jonquière QC G7S 0L5

Courier address (delivery only):

Jonquière TC
T4 Program
2251 René-Lévesque Boulevard
Jonquière QC G7S 5J2

If you need more paper copies, you can order a maximum of T4 forms online or by calling 1-800-959-5525. (But, isn't it just a little ironic to order paper forms online?) 

T4 Summary 

When you submit your T4s, you must also include a T4 Summary of Remuneration Paid, which is basically a top-level report summarizing all the amounts your business listed in each of the employee T4s.  If you have more than one Payroll Account Number, you have to submit one for each Payroll Account Number. 

👉 If you use Wagepoint, yep — you got it — we'll send this information for you. 

Balance due 

Bless you... trust me... just wait a minute. Ok, so since payroll doesn't fit perfectly into a 365-day calendar year box, you'll have one final remittance or balance due for your EI and CPP/QPP payments. Regardless of your remittance frequency, this amount is due when you submit your T4s.  

These payments are due January 15. If you're a Wagepoint customer, this will be included as part of your regular remittance schedule. 

Amending or changing T4s

So say after you send your T4s, you realize there's a mistake. If it's anything other than a change of employee address, you need to submit a change. 

  • Making changes electronically — only change the fields that need updating and use summary and slip type code "A".
  • On paper — write "AMENDED" at the top of the form to clearly identify the version. Include a letter explaining the change. You don't need to file a new T4 Summary. 
  • If you get a PIER report, respond to the PIER instead of simply amending the T4. 

Pensionable and Insurable Earnings Review (PIER)

This is the part where the CRA gets to write you back. They review the amounts in your T4s to ensure they match the amounts your business withheld and remitted. If something doesn't align with your CPP/QPP or EI amounts, the PIER will show which T4 had the discrepancy. You'll also get a PEIR if you owe any remittances. 

T4 penalties 

The last business day of February is a date you don't want to miss.

Fines are calculated based on the number of returns. Here are the fines for late T4s:

# of T4s

Per day (up to 100 days) 

Maximum

1 – 50

$10

$1,000

51 – 500 

$15

$1,500

If you fail to file electronically when sending more than 50 T4s, the fines are:

# of T4s

Fine 

51 – 250

$250

251 – 500 

$500

If you're late on any balance of $500 or more, the interest begins to accrue from day one. 

# of days late

Fine — % of the amount

1 – 3

3%

4 – 5

5%

6 – 7

7%

7+

10%

Repeat offenders or negligence 

20%

Helpful T4 reference pages from the CRA:

Writer's aside: As I was creating this guide, these pages were almost always open in my browser. The CRA must think I'm their biggest fangirl. 

What's a T4A?

T4A, also long-windedly known as the Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity and Other Income is issued for many types of income outside the standard employee-employer relationship.

Issuing T4As for contractors

As a small business employer, one of the most most common reasons you'd issue a T4A  would be to provide year-end documentation to a contractor. In turn, the contractor will use T4A for their self-employment taxes

  • If you pay a contractor $500 or more for their services, you must issue a T4A. 

(Note: The above image is a 2019 T4A. We'll update this once the CRA has issued the 2020 version. 
Pro Tip: You can tell what year a form is for by looking at the description along the bottom left edge.)  

Payer's and recipient's information

The same rules apply here as they do for a T4. In this case, the business (you) are the payer and the contractor is the recipient. 

Box 12 — Recipient's SIN

Enter the contractor's SIN. If you don't have their number, enter nine zeros. 

Box 13 — Recipient's account number

If your contractor is incorporated, they'll have a CRA business number that you'll enter here. 

Box 18 — Lump-sum payments (Don't fill this out.)

Unless you're managing the contractor's pension plan, don't use this box. 

Box 20 — Self-employed commissions

If you paid your contractor commissions as part of your relationship, enter these amounts here. 

Box 48 — Fees for services  

This is the box most small businesses will use to document the amount paid to a contractor during the calendar year.  Do not include any GST/HST you paid along with these fees. 

Box 61 — Payer's account number

This is your business' payroll account number — your business number plus the extra code that makes it a payroll account number. 

Bottom of T4A — Other information area 

The second most common place small business employers document amounts paid to contractors is using Code 28 — Other income. Here's a full list of the income codes for a T4A.

If you have more than 12 codes for the same contractor, create a second T4A. The only thing you have to repeat is your business' and the contractor's identifying information. 

Other reasons a T4 might be issued:

A T4A may also be issued when you pay any of the following types of income: 
(In the case of these types of incomes, you issue the T4A because you deducted CPP/QPP and/or EI from the amounts.) 

  • Pension or superannuation
  • Lump-sum payments
  • Self-employed commissions
  • Annuities
  • Patronage allocations
  • Registered education savings plan (RESP) accumulated income payments
  • RESP educational assistance payments
  • Fees or other amounts for services
  • Other income such as research grants, wage-loss replacement plan payments if you were not required to withhold CPP/QPP contributions and EI premiums, death benefits, or certain benefits paid to partnerships or shareholders.

General guidelines for completing a T4A:

The same rules and guidelines that apply to a T4, apply to a T4A.

Helpful T4A reference pages from the CRA:

The following tools can help you find more detailed info on T4As, right from the source: 

What's a Relevé 1 (RL-1)?

If your business is based in Québec or if you have employees work in Québec, you'll need to issue an RL-1 Employment and Other Income slip.  You must file an RL-1 slip if you paid salaries, wages, gratuities, tips, fees, scholarships or commissions as an employer.

👉 Note: As the RL-1 only covers reporting in Québec, you also have to complete T4s and T4s for your federal reporting. 

The kinds of source deductions an RL-1 documents 

The amounts documented in the RL-1 tend to relate to Québec-specific taxes, including:

  • Québec income tax
  • Québec Pension Plan (QQP) contributions (Québec's version of CPP)
  • Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) premiums
  • Contributions to:
    • Health Services Fund contributions
    • Labour Standards
    •  Workforce Skills Development and Recognition Fund (WSDRF)
    • Recognition Fund (WSDRF)

What's included in a 2020 RL-1  issued by an employer: 

You could skip around the RL-1 pages of the RQ site, or this PDF guide to the RL-1 is pretty helpful. 

Box A —  Employment income before source deductions

This is the amount you paid the employee before taxes, otherwise known as total pay

Box B — QPP contribution

Enter the total QPP contributions withheld during the year. 

  • Do not correct the amount if it is too high.
  • Leave the box blank if you did not withhold QPP contributions.
  • Do not enter any CPP contributions you withheld. Instead, enter B-1 in a blank box, followed by the CPP contribution amount.

Box C — EI premium

Enter the total EI premiums withheld during the year.

Box D — RPP contribution

Note any RPP contributions. 

Box E — Québec income tax

Document provincial income tax, including the health contributions, withheld at source.

Box F — Union dues

List the amount withheld as union dues during the year should  — only if you have entered into an
agreement with the union that it won't issue receipts for the dues. 

Box G — Pensionable salary or wages under QPP

Enter the pensionable salary or wages under the QPP  up to the maximum amount.

Box H — QPIP premium

Put the amount of QPIP premiums withheld in this box. 

The box I —  Eligible salary or wages under QPIP

Document the eligible QPIP salary or wages up to the annual maximum.

Box K — Trips made by a resident of a registered remote area

List amount for eligible travel that the employer reimbursed. 

Box M — Commissions included in the amount in box A or box R

Show any commissions that fall under Box A (Employment Income) or Box R (Income paid to a Native Canadian situated on a reserve or premises). 

Box N — Charitable donations and gifts

Note any employee donations given to a registered charity. 

Box O — Other income not included in Box A (Employment Income) 

This includes income, such as research grants, tax-free savings account, death benefits and financial assistance. 

Box Q — Deferred salary or wages (Tax-exempt and not included in the amount in Box A or Box R)

These are the total of the amounts you paid to a custodian or a trustee of an employee benefit plan, a profit-sharing plan or trust.

Box R — Income paid to a Native Canadian situated on a reserve or premises

This represents income paid to a Native Canadian employee who lives on reserve or works on-site. 

Box S — Tips 

Includes tips reported in the employee's Register and Statement of Tips or equivalent document, as well as tips that were distributed to the employee because they were added to the customer’s bill.

Box T — Tips allocated by the employer 

These are the tips that the employer provided to an employee and added to his or her basic salary or wages — those you were required to allocate because the amount of tips the employee reported was less than 8% of their tippable sales, not including GST or QST. 

Box U — Phased retirement  

These are amounts deemed, under a phased retirement arrangement, to be income received from pensionable employment, on which an additional contribution to QPP is calculated. This amount is tax-exempt and is not included in the amount in box A or box R.

Taxable benefits included in box A or box R, as applicable:

Box J — Private health services plan

Enter the total employer contributions to a private health services plan. 

Box K — Trips made by a resident of a registered remote area

List amount for eligible travel that the employer reimbursed. 

Box L — Other benefits

Include amounts not documented in Boxes J (Private health services), K (remote travel), P (Multi-employer insurance), V (Meals and lodging) or W (Motor vehicle).

Box P — Contribution to a multi-employer insurance plan

If you contributed to a multi-employer insurance plan for the employee, list it here. 

Box V —  Meals and lodging

Includes the allowance you pay to an employee for meals and lodging. 

Box W — Use of a motor vehicle for personal purposes

If the use of a motor vehicle is provided as a taxable benefit, it must be included here. 

General guidelines for completing an RL-1

The same rules and guidelines that apply to a T4, apply to an RL-1 

Filing RL-1 slips with RQ

Employers can  file RL-1 slips and summaries using:

  • Software authorized by RQ, such as Wagepoint. 
    👉 Note: Wagepoint automates RL-1 creation and submission. For the RL-1 summary, we provide you with the payroll information you need. However, due to additional requirements, the employer must submit the RL-1 summary. 
  • Software you developed that meets our requirements.
    (If you have time to do this, let us know. We're always looking for fresh talent!) 
  • RQ's online services. 
  • Fillable PDF forms. 
  • Paper forms provided by RQ. 
    • Documents not filed online must be mailed to:
      • Montréal, Laval, Laurentides, Lanaudière and Montérégie:
        Revenu Québec
        C. P. 6700, succursale Place-Desjardins
        Montréal (Québec) H5B 1J4
      • Québec City and other regions:
        Revenu Québec
        C. P. 25666, succursale Terminus
        Québec (Québec) G1A 1B6

👉 Note: If you have more than 50 RL-1s, you must submit them online. 

Providing RL-1s to your employees

Just like with a T4, the preference is that you provide RL-1s electronically to your employees. If you are unable to do so, you must get written consent from each employee to send the RL-1s by mail.  

RL-1 penalties 

You could receive a financial penalty if you:

  • Leave out key information, which is a $100 fine. 
  • Send your RL-1s to RQ late.
  • Send your RL-1s to your employees late. 
  • Don't use online filing for more than 50 RL-1 slips. 

Helpful RL-1 reference pages from the CRA and RQ:

If you need to complete RL-1s for your employees, these guides from the CRA and RQ can help: 

Why are T4s, T4As and RL-1s so important?

There are several reasons why these forms matter:

  • These forms are what your employees use to file their income taxes.
    • If you fail to meet the end of February deadline, your employees can report you to the CRA or Revenu Québec.
    • If an employer is found to be at fault for causing a delay or failing to provide these forms, penalties may be assessed. 
  • T4s, T4As and Relevé 1s are also used to show how much employers have paid in employer taxes, like CPP contributions and EI premiums, which in turn determines your schedule for making these payments.
    • If an employer fails to remit enough payroll taxes, the CRA will assess penalties of 10% the first year and 20% the second if the error isn't addressed.   
  • It is also the responsibility of the employer and the employee to ensure that the information on these forms is accurate.  
    • If there's a mistake, you'll have to go through the process of amending, cancelling, adding or replacing them. 

What is payroll year-end?

In Canada, the end of the calendar year (and the last few months leading up to it) mark a time when a business looks at all its financial records before moving on to the next year. When it comes to payroll, this involves issuing T4s, T4As and RL-1s, which are probably the most well-known parts of a payroll year-end. 

Year-end is also when employers must reconcile their payroll amounts. This is when you add up what you've paid in wages and programs, like Employment Insurance/Québec Parental Insurance Plan (EI/QPIP) and Canada Pension Plan/Québec Pension Plan (CPP/QPP) and report them to the Canada Revenue Agency/Revenue Québec (CRA/RQ). This pretty much goes hand-in-hand with issuing T4s, T4As and RL-1s. 

However, as they say in every infomercial ever written, “But wait, there's more!”

👉 Must-know payroll vocabulary: As you learn more about payroll, the term “year-to-date amounts” also known as “YTD amounts” will become increasingly familiar. 

👉 If your YTD amounts are incorrect, you might end up either over- or underpaying taxes and other source deductions. 

  • Every time you run payroll, you're not just issuing paycheques. As an employer, you also have to withhold income tax, manage EI and CPP/QPP deductions and contributions and allow for other mandatory payroll taxes, like Workers' Compensation, Employer Health Taxes and other provincially or territorially required programs. 
  • You also need to keep track of these amounts for reporting and paying (remitting) to the appropriate tax authorities. This fun part of the program is called compliance, which means following the rules and staying out of trouble with the people who can issue fines or worse if you don't colour within the lines. 
  • From the first payroll you run in a calendar year to the last, you need to have accurate YTD amounts to be compliant with the tax laws related to payroll.

👉 YTD amounts and compliance are key areas where online payroll software, like Wagepoint, makes a world of difference for small businesses. We have a saying here at Wagepoint, “Every day is year-end.” This is because everything you do from your setup onwards builds toward your final compliance measures for the year.

Whenever you start using payroll software or switch to new payroll software, you'll also be asked about YTD amounts. It's a term that goes on and on.

Back to year-end, did you know that the start of a new calendar year is the best time to start using new payroll software? This is because your year-to-date amounts are either zero for the very first payroll or you'll have smaller amounts the earlier in the year you switch. 

A 5-step checklist to help make payroll year-end less painful 

As the calendar year draws to a close, it's not just your holiday shopping plans that you have to get in order. You need to develop a system for handling your payroll year-end from start to finish. 

Step 1 — Before year-end 

  • Consider using small business payroll software. 
    (If not this year, get set up as soon as you can for the new calendar year.) 
  • Know the date of the last payroll for the calendar for the current year. 
  • Create a year-end reference file or folder — include the calendar year in the file name for easy reference.  Example: Payroll-year-end-2020.
  • Determine which forms your business will need — T4, T4A and/or RL-1.
  • If you're using Wagepoint, ensure that you've set your “auto-submit” status to YES (in your account settings) so that we can file your year-end forms on your behalf. 
  • Download a copy of this checklist using the form below:

Download the checklist.

Step 2 — Check and double-check 

  •  Your business details:

    • Company name and address
    • CRA/RQ Business Number and Payroll Account Number 
    • CRA/RQ threshold frequency for your tax remittance schedule
    • Your account numbers for Workers Compensation (WSIB/WCB), Employer Health Tax (EHT) and other provincial/territorial taxes

👉 If your Business Number, Payroll Account Number or any other ID numbers are incorrect, the tax agencies won't be able to match your business with your remittances. 

  • Employee details for active and terminated employees:

    • Correct first and last names, address and date of birth. 
    • Social Insurance Numbers (SINs).
      • Especially temporary SINs that begin with a 9 as they can expire. 
      • If a temporary SIN has expired, determine if the employee has a new SIN. 
    • Tax status and exemption changes: 

      • If so, file a new  TD1
      • Confirm changes (marital status, birth of a child, higher education, etc.) and effective dates.
      • Remind employees paid by commission to file a new TD1X.   
    • Contractor information 
      • Name, address and either the Business Number or the individual's SIN. 
    • Classification — employee or contractor.
      • Mistakes from misclassification, such as failing to withhold the proper tax amounts, can add up quickly. 

  • Make sure YTD amounts are accurate
    • These are the total amounts in your payroll up to the most recent payroll you've run, including:
      • Gross earnings
      • CPP/QPP and EI 
      • Federal and provincial/territorial income tax
      • Vacation 
        • Verify accrued vacation amounts to make sure that they match up to what they should be for your employees. 
        • Ensure that any time taken as vacation time was reported and deducted from each employee's balances. 
      • All incomes and deductions

👉 Your YTD amounts all tally up at the end of the year and are reflected in the T4s / T4As. If your YTD amounts are incorrect, you might end up either over- or underpaying taxes and other source deductions.

👉 You also need your YTD amounts to get set up when starting with payroll software (and if you're switching software). You will also need YTD when issuing ROEs

  • Balance CRA/RQ payroll tax accounts remittances to your Payroll Register or Receiver General Report.
    • If your bookkeeper, accountant or payroll provider is handling government remittances on your behalf, they should be able to provide you with a Receiver General Report that outlines all the remittances that have been paid out to date.

    • Compare the Receiver General Report with the Statement of Account you receive from the CRA/RQ.

    • This will help you spot any missed remittances, detect over or underpayments and catch up on your payments well before you rack up any serious penalties. 

  • Reconcile the payroll bank account for outstanding entries, including:  

    • Manual cheques   
    • Void or cancelled cheques  
    • Investigate any stale or dated cheques
  • Conduct a self PIER audit of CPP/QPP, EI and QPIP deductions.

  • Remit outstanding EI, CPP/QPP and QPIP amounts for the current calendar year.

  • Review completed T4s, T4As, RL-1 and summary reports before sending. 

Step 3 — Filing Procedures 

  • Determine your filing method — paper (manual) or online (electronic).

  • Decide how you'll deliver T4s, T4A and RL-1s to your employees and contractors.
    👉Note: You'll need written consent from each employee before distributing these documents by mail.   
  • Make note of filing deadlines and penalties for non-compliance.
    👉Note: CRA, RQ, WCB (Workers' Compensation) and EHT (Employer Health Tax) dates may vary by province and territory.

Step 4 — Additional Reporting (if applicable) 

  • Provincial and territorial requirements, including:

    • Employer health tax (EHT) returns 

    • Workers' compensation and annual reconciliation/return

  • Reporting for Québec

Step 5 — Prepare for the new calendar year 

  • Know when your first payroll of the new calendar year starts. 

  • Confirm with your provider or software company when the new tax rates apply and who is responsible for updating the rates for: 

    • Federal and provincial/territorial income tax

    • EI 

    • CPP/QPP

    • Workers' Compensation 

      • Ensure that all the applicable employees are enrolled in the program from a payroll standpoint. In Wagepoint, it's as simple as assigning the right Workers' Compensation rate to a specific employee within their Job Tab. 

    • EHT 

  • Ensure that you're registered for all the applicable provincial and territorial taxes:

Province/Territory 

Tax 

Alberta

Workers’ Compensation (WCB)

British Columbia

Workers’ Compensation (WorkSafeBC)

Employer Health Tax (replaced the Medical Services Plan in 2020) 

Manitoba

Workers’ Compensation (WCB)

The Health and Post Secondary Education Tax Levy (HE Levy)

New Brunswick

Workers’ Compensation (WorkSafeNB)

Newfoundland and Labrador

Workers’ Compensation (WorkPlaceNL)

Health and Post Secondary Education Tax

Nova Scotia

Workers’ Compensation (WCB)

Ontario

Workers’ Compensation (WISB) 

Employer Health Tax (EHT)

Prince Edward Island

Workers’ Compensation (WCB)

Québec

Workers’ Compensation (CNESST)

Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP)

Health Services Fund (HSF)

Contribution Related to Labour Standards

Workforce Skills Development and Recognition Fund (WSDRF)

Saskatchewan

Workers’ Compensation (WCB)

Northwest Territories

Workers’ Compensation (WSCC)

Nunavut

Workers’ Compensation (WSCC)

Yukon 

Workers’ Compensation (WCB)

  • Plan ahead for paydate conflicts, such as statutory holidays when the banks are closed:

    • On a federal level, this includes New Year's, Family Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, August Civic Holiday, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  

  • Years when businesses with weekly or bi-weekly pay frequencies will have an extra pay period:

    • Determine how CPP/QPP exemptions will be handled. 

    • Verify how other taxable/insurable/pensionable benefits and income will be affected. 

  • Carry forward balances:

    •  Vacation accruals

    • Banked overtime

    • Unused sick days (if carry forward is allowed)

    • Outstanding loans

    • Garnishment balances

  • Make any changes to your CRA/RQ remittance schedule
    👉Note: Adjustments that affect the new calendar year must be done after the year-end is completed for the previous calendar year.
    • Most companies typically fall in the New or Regular Remitter Frequency, where your remittances have to be paid by the 15th of the month following the month you paid your employees.

    • Once your Average Monthly Withholding Amount (AMWA) starts to increase, your company might be required to remit taxes more frequently than a New or Regular Remitter.
      👉Notify your bookkeeper or accountant — or update your frequency in your payroll software as soon as the CRA or RQ notifies you that your remittance frequency has changed. The penalties for missed remittances can be pretty severe and the interest compounds quickly. ​ 

Federal Statutory Holidays

New Year’s Day 

Canada Day

Remembrance Day 

Good Friday 

Labour Day

Christmas Day 

Victoria Day 

Thanksgiving Day

Boxing Day 

  • Holidays that only apply to specific provinces and territories.​

Date

Holiday

3rd Monday in February

Louis Riel Day — Manitoba 

Family Day — Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan 

Heritage Day — Nova Scotia only

Islander Day — Prince Edward Island 

The Friday before the last Sunday in February

Heritage Day — Yukon

June 21 (First day of summer) 

National Aboriginal Day —  Northwest Territories 

June 24

Québec's National Day (St John the Baptist Day) — Québec 

July 9 

Nunavut Day — Nunavut 

Monday closest to July 12

Orangeman's Day — Newfoundland and Labrador 

First Monday in August

Civic Holiday —  All except Québec and Yukon

3rd Monday in August 

Discovery Day — Yukon

👉 As an employer, you are legally required to pay out statutory holiday pay for employees who work on that holiday, but those requirements can vary based on your province or territory. 

  • Record of Employment (ROE) Authorization — If you're using Wagepoint, make sure you've authorized us to submit ROEs on your behalf.  
  • Download a copy of this checklist using the form below:

Download the checklist.

Every day is year-end. 

In payroll, there's an expression, "Every day is year-end." While a lot of focus is given to pulling things together at the end of the calendar year and issuing T4s, T4As and RL-1s by the end of February, the truth is — in a perfect world, you want to get your payroll set up right from the start.

If you begin the year with the right pay rates, tax rates and a system for reporting and remitting those taxes, you're ahead of the pack. 

Standard Legal Disclaimers 

Someone's gotta make the lawyers happy. (Yep, there's something out there that's even more painful than payroll, childbirth or gardening documentary marathons.) 

👉 The advice we share on our blog is intended to be informational. It does not replace the expertise of accredited business professionals or the responsibility of the business owner to ensure compliance.

👉 To qualify for complimentary T4s with Wagepoint (included as part of your standard fees) — a business must run a minimum of two payrolls in the current calendar year. 

👉 Remittance and reporting capabilities within Wagepoint vary by location. Authorization to process ROEs required during setup.

About the Author

Michelle Mire

As Wagepoint's Content Manager, Michelle enjoys simplifying complex payroll topics and creating engaging small business and partner content. When not at the keyboard, she enjoys chocolate, running and quality television (not always in that order).

Follow on Twitter Follow on Linkedin Visit Website More Content by Michelle Mire

No Previous Articles

Next Article
TWS And CEWS Payroll Year-End Reporting [Webinar Recap]
TWS And CEWS Payroll Year-End Reporting [Webinar Recap]

Wagepoint teamed up with Juliet Aurora, co-founder of AIS Solutions and Kninja Knetwork to discuss all thin...

×

First Name
Last Name
Country
!
Thank you!
Error - something went wrong!