A closer look at the proposed retail discount tax

in Business by

The discount tax for retail employees seems to have become a non issue across government parties. However, Canada Revenue Agency has issued guidelines for businesses to follow regarding merchandise taxes. 

Though the Liberal party has stated this tax will not harm retail employees, it’s a real slippery slope to dance around. 

I have worked in retail for 19 years. I have been young and careless through retail jobs, working for beer money; I have saved money for my wedding by folding clothes, I walked the concrete floors with a pregnant belly and I have drop my 2 year old kid at day care for an overnight of stock. It has been in the background of more than half of my life. 

It has not paid off my student loan, it has not given me a savings account, it has given me less money than my day care payment, it has never allowed me to get ahead. It has however, allowed me to pull all nighters, allowed me to work time unpaid, allowed me to go to the food bank for groceries, allowed me to work 60 hours a week and allowed me to be harassed by numerous customers for petty demands while getting paid minimum wage. 

It has also given me an employee discount. 

Let it be known that this discount makes a huge impact on the lives of retail workers. 

It keeps employees consistent and continuous within their field, reducing turnover rates and benefiting the economy. 

It helps alleviate financial stress by giving some comfort during the Christmas season and allows employees to get clothing that they can actually afford. 

It gives a small benefit for a hard job at low pay. 

It is also beneficial to those who have to wear the name brand and clothing at their job. 

I can talk for hours about the benefit of this very small gratuity given to retail workers. Especially since a lot of retail managers are paid salaried and tend to clock extra unpaid hours every single week of their career. That’s hours away from their families, their home, their lives to benefit the economy. UNPAID. 

There are few greatness’s to the customer service gig. Making someone’s day with the perfect outfit is one, working with an incredible team is another but the discount definitely keeps consistent veterans in the field and gives an incentive to stay in a job that barely gets you by. 

Retail workers work unstable shifts, long hours and sometimes find out they have no hours. You can pick up your schedule to find you will not be making any money that week and then what? 

They usually do not have benefits, on holidays when government is closed, we open our doors for business. We give up Christmas for the public. If any of us want to be home for the holidays, we have to offer our soul in exchange for a two day stretch to be with our family. 

We are one of the most vulnerable sectors that cannot be hit. We already JUST push passed the poverty line, just enough that we can’t claim any benefits but not enough to make ends meet. 

It’s hitting directly on the female population with 60 per cent of the industry dominated by women. Though there is a gender disparity, men hold more management positions, leaving women to work part time, without benefits and with unreliable incomes and hours. Women are more likely to be paid $12 an hour or under. 

Retail workers are students who are balancing studies, bus schedules and high tuition fees. Another vulnerable group of workers that can’t really afford to donate more money to taxes. 

When I’m paying more out of pocket for day care while I work a retail shifts, including my childhood tax benefit, why am I now paying for my discount that helped me get by? 

The argument is that these discounts are not available to the public and therefore a benefit. I think if the public wants the same discount as me, they should work a 12 hour shift with the last three hours unpaid, during peak season on a holiday that continues into overnight. Just one shift. Then they can rack in all the discounts they want. 

If we want to make gratuities fair across the board, I’d gladly show up to the many catered lunches held for government meetings for a little noch or how about those paid flights and meal per diems? 

Heck I’ll take Trudeau’s nanny’s salary to help pay out my day care bills. 

Actually, I think I’d simply take health benefits. 

Don’t hit the lower income vulnerable people without expecting a fight back. We shut our mouth and keep our head down through most of our days, but not if you think my discount should be taxed. It’s all we got. 


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