I’m an aspiring journalist who just finished an internship. On one hand, it was a pretty prestigious place to have interned. On the other hand, I only got a small honorarium in exchange for my efforts.
First of all, congratulations on your internship! Hopefully it will become a stepping stone to bigger and better things — because obviously it’s not going to pay the rent 🙂
As for declaring the income, you have two options. You can (a) treat the internship as part of your business income (schedule T2125 Statement of Business Income), or (b) report it as ‘other income’ on line 130 of your income tax return. Either way is equally legitimate.
If your income is above the CPP top-out (approximately $44,000 in 2016) you will be taxed 31% income tax on this income regardless of where you declare it, so it’s just a coin flip. However if you’re earning less you’ve got a choice to make.
Option (a) – Treat it as business income
You pay income tax and CPP on the income just like any other self-employment earnings. Note that you don’t have to remit any HST/GST with regard to this income because honorarium income, like grant income, is not subject to HST/GST.
Option (b) – Treat it as incidental (other) income
If your income overall is less than the CPP top-out mentioned above, putting the honorarium on Line 130 is a little less expensive than including it as part of your professional income because it becomes exempt from the 9.9% CPP premium. However, the CPP you get when you retire is based on the CPP premiums you’ve paid throughout your career, so it’s a short term gain for (modest, distant) long-term pain.
* In 2016, this figure was around $44,000 of income. Beyond that point, you’ve paid the maximum allowable into your CPP, so any additional income is subject only to taxes. Note that the point at which the CPP maximum is reached rises slightly with inflation every year.
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