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In an April 14, 2020 French Technical Interpretation, CRA was asked whether amounts paid to an employee for costs of equipment for working remotely would be a taxable benefit.

Generally, a reimbursement for a personal purchase of equipment used for working remotely would be a taxable benefit. However, CRA noted that in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has required many employees to work remotely, acquisition of computer equipment may be primarily for the employer’s benefit. In that context, CRA indicated that no taxable benefit would arise for a reimbursement, supported by actual invoices or receipts, of no more than $500 towards such equipment.

CRA also stated that a non-accountable allowance would always be taxable, as no provision would provide for an exclusion of such amounts.

CRA did not comment on the consequences if the equipment were used exclusively for employment and was owned by the employer, not the employee. CRA has indicated in the past that, where equipment is property of the employer, and any personal use is incidental, there would be no taxable benefit to the employee.

 ACTION ITEM: Consider providing a reimbursement to employees for the personal purchase of equipment for working remotely of up to $500.