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Forgive the confusing title, but it was the best way that I could explain the following situation briefly.

I currently have some contracts for doing IT works with various companies. They pay me as you would an employee, taking out income tax, CPP, and EI. (I'm in Canada.)

However, I want to subcontract that out to some fellow IT folks I know, mainly because it's starting to get a bit much for one person. So my question is, would I have to do source deductions for them even though I've paid tax on those earnings already? Am I way off base as to how to properly do this?

Thanks in advance.

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If you want to subcontract some of your excess work to somebody else, you better be in business!  While some kinds of employees (e.g. commissioned salespeople) are permitted to deduct some expenses on their income tax, generally only a real business can deduct wages for additional employees, or the cost of services provided by subcontractors.

Do you invoice your clients and charge HST (GST)? Or do you tell your clients each pay period how many hours you worked and they compensate you through their payroll system like everybody else that walks through the door? If you're not invoicing and charging HST (GST) (assuming you exceed the threshold, and if you have too much work, you probably do!), then perhaps your clients are treating you as an employee – by default – and withholding taxes, CPP, and EI so they don't get in trouble?

After all, Canada Revenue Agency is likely to consider any person providing a service to a company to be an employee unless there is sufficient evidence to the contrary, and when there isn't enough evidence, it's the company paying for the services that would be on the hook for unpaid taxes, CPP, and EI.

Carefully consider what form of business you are operating, or were intending to operate. It's essential for your business to be structured appropriately if you want to hire or subcontract. You ought to be either self-employed as a sole proprietor, or perhaps incorporated if it makes more sense to your situation. Next, act accordingly.

For instance, it's likely that your business should be taking care of the source deductions, CPP, and EI. In fact, self-employed individuals shouldn't even be paying into EI – an independent contractor wouldn't qualify to make an EI claim if they lost a contract. As an independent, one doesn't have a job, one has a business, and EI doesn't cover the business itself, only the employees that the business deals with at arm's length. As a business owner, you would be considered non-arms-length, and exempt from EI.

Growing your business in the way that you are suggesting is an important enough a step that you should seek professional advice in advance. Find a good accountant that deals with self-employed individuals & small businesses and run all this by him. He should be able to guide you accordingly. Find a lawyer, too. A lawyer can guide you on how to properly subcontract others while protecting you and your business.

Finally, be mindful of what it is you agreed to in your contract with your client: Do they expect all services to be performed by you, personally? Even if it wasn't written down who exactly would be performing the services, there may be an assumption it's you. Some negotiation may be in order if you want to use subcontractors.

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