Mikey was a pretty good carpenter who did not have any papers to prove it. In fact, Mikey was not a paperwork kind of guy. Mikey was the kind of guy who would say that “the wife” took care of the paperwork in his life, if he had a wife. Since there was no one to take care of paperwork, Mikey pretty much ignored it.
He had a good summer and had been busy with a few renovations and a bunch of repair work. He has been keeping Bob and Dave working since March but it looked like now that December was in sight that he was not going to need the boys too much longer.
Bob and Dave had been working for an hourly wage and they were paid in cash each week. They had no trouble with being paid in cash and that was not an unusual event in their lives. They were both under the impression that cash was not taxable so they were happy with Mikey’s lack of paperwork skills.
On this sunny day late in November Mikey said to the boys “Looks like we are going to be out of work in a week or so. I would say that by December 15 we will shut her down for the holidays. Unless something comes up soon I won’t be needing you until April.”
Bob replied, “Yeah I could see it coming.”
A couple weeks later Bob is putting his leisure time to use at his favourite pub. The bartender there, an attractive young lady by the name of Judy says “Gee Bob, we’ve been seeing a lot of you lately.”
Bob says, “I am out of work for the winter, looks like.”
Judy answers, “You must be drawing lots of EI to have the money to hang around here all the time.”
Bob says, “Nope — I don’t think I can get any of that. Probably should be watching my money better.”
Judy says, “Everyone who gets laid off can get EI, as far as I know.”
Bob ponders this through a couple more beer and then heads home. The next day he calls his sister, who works at an accounting firm and asks her if he should be getting Employment Insurance (aka EI). She suggests that he go to Services Canada and tell them how many weeks he has been working and that he got laid off.
Services Canada is not the sort of place that Bob finds comforting. He wanders around trying to figure out who he should talk to. Finally he just takes a number and waits. Eventually it is his turn and he explains to the woman behind the counter, whose name is Phyllis, that he wants to get EI. Phyllis says to him. “You need to give me your R O E.”
Bob does not know what that is and says so. He is then informed that he should have received a Record of Employment when he was laid off. This is the ROE that she is talking about. Bob suggests that his employer did not give him any paper, ever. Now Phyllis is interested.
Phyllis says, “What do you mean ever? Don’t you have a cheque stub or a direct deposit email with your year to date payroll information.”
“Nope” says Bob, “we never got anything like that.”
Phyllis says, “Well you need to get a hold of your employer and tell him to give you this information. In fact, do you have a phone number for him? I will call him right now.”
Bob gives Phyllis the phone number for Mikey with no small amount of trepidation.
Mikey answers the call with a big Hello!
Phyllis says, “Hello, may I speak to Mikey please.”
Mikey replies, “That’s me.”
Phyllis says, “I am calling from Services Canada. I have an employee of yours here who tells me that you have not provided him with any of the documents he needs to apply for Employment Insurance. We need a record of the payments you have made to him during the past year.”
Mikey replies, “I don’t keep any records.”
“Sir!”- Says Phyllis who is off and running now “you are required to keep track of the amounts that you pay your employees. You are required to take deductions for Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan and income tax and to send these amounts to the Receiver General. You are required to give your employees a record of employment so that they can claim EI when they are laid off.”
“Listen Lady” says Mikey, “you don’t understand — I am paying them under the table.”
Phyllis is speechless for a moment. She has been working with Services Canada for over ten years and she has never had anyone admit that they are paying their employees under the table.
“Sir” she says, upon regaining the power of speech, “that is illegal.”
“I don’t think so.” Says Mikey. “When I got started in this business I asked around. What I found out was that there was a complicated way to do things, paperwork and sending money to the government. When I explained that I was not a paperwork person — what people kept telling me was that I should stick to cash and pay my people under the table. And that is what I have done.”
Phyllis said “Well sir, you are now in a lot of trouble. You will be hearing from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) about your source deductions and probably also about Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and workers compensation. Do you even file personal tax returns?”
Mikey said, “That is none of your business.” And he hung up the phone.
“Well” said Phyllis to Bob “your employer sounds like a piece of work. I will be reporting him to all of the groups that do audits and he is going to be very sorry.”
What is going to happen to Mikey?