Rules for Hiring Family Members

You can hire your spouse or other family members to work in your business provided that they provide a bona fide business related service. A reasonable tax deductible salary may be paid to them.

While your spouse will have to pay taxes on their own salary, they may be in a lower tax bracket than you are. Therefore, this will serve to equalize your incomes. In addition, your spouse may now be eligible to contribute to an RRSP, to further shelter their income.

You can hire your children or grandchildren even on a part time basis, and turn what would otherwise be non deductible allowances, gifts and expensive handouts into tax deductions for you. Depending on their ages, the kids can perform any number of tasks including:

● Cleaning the business office

● Washing the business automobile

● Answering the phone when you are away

● Stuffing and addressing envelops

● Keeping track of inventory

● Delivering products

● Running business errands

● Entering data into computer, doing research on the Internet, and other duties.


Note that any salary paid to your children must be declared in their own tax returns. Using this strategy, the kids are involved, having fun, learning responsibility and you are pocketing the tax savings!

Below are the rules for hiring family members:

● The family members must do the work for which they are paid. Make sure that the work was necessary and would have otherwise required the hiring of a stranger.

● All the paperwork must be in place, including the signing of employment contracts or sub-contracts, or the keeping of time cards to support hours worked.

● You can pay a family member a deductible salary provided it is not greater than what you would ordinarily pay a stranger to do the same job. The pay cannot be excessive for the work performed. Someone from outside the family must be paid at least a minimum wage, so therefore no matter how menial the job is, minimum wage is not unreasonable payment for family members. (You can even pay a bigger salary to your wife compared to a stranger for some sort of “confidential” duties – let’s say for keeping your financial records in order).

● At source tax withholding is not required if the family member is paid under $10,382 (in 2010) per year (you still have to make payments to the Canada Pension Plan on behalf of your employees who are older than 18).

● Salaries are treated as tax deductible wages by you as the employer and as taxable income by your family member employees. You lose the tax advantages if you pay wages to a family member who is in a higher tax bracket than you.

● The payments must be periodic. Pay family members by cheque at least once a month, as you would any employee. If you pay a year’s worth of wages in the last month of the year, it would NOT work. Try to not pay by cash!

You can always CONTACT US to discuss your particular situation.