An honorarium is an ex gratia payment (i.e., a payment made without the giver recognizing himself as having any liability or legal obligation made to a person for his or her services in a volunteer capacity or for services for which fees are not traditionally required). This is used by groups such as schools or Sports clubs to pay coaches for their costs.[1][2][3] Another example includes the payment to guest speakers at a conference meeting to cover their travel, accommodation, or preparation time. Christian Church funerals and/or memorial services, are often paid by honorarium, as the minister, musicians, organist, soloist and others of out care do not have a set fee for services to grieving families. [4] [5] [6] Like wise, weddings are often paid through honorarium also.[7][8]

Taxation of honoraria


An example of this is the payments made by Australian schools to their sporting coaches.[9] They are ostensibly receiving a reimbursement for their costs in their voluntary roles as coaches. The concept of an honorarium has a tax implication. In Australia recipients of these funds make a tax declaration (known as the hobbyist form)[10] to the tax office and therefore do not have to include this money in their annual tax return.


In Canada, honoraria are considered salary and thus, taxable income under the Income Tax Act.[11] In the case where a gift is substituted for honorarium (gift in lieu of money), it is still classified as a taxable benefit by Canada Revenue Agency.[11]

In cases where an honorarium is paid to an individual who is not a resident of Canada, the honorarium is still subjected to income tax withholding (usually 15%) unless prior approval was obtained from Revenue Canada.[12]

Hong Kong

Honoraria are subjected to taxation under HK Laws. Chap 112 Inland Revenue Ordinance and also subjected to the Mandatory Provident Fund, a compulsory saving scheme for retirement.[13][14]


Under Indonesian National Laws, honorarium recipients are subjected to withholding tax under Income Tax Article 21.[15][16]

New Zealand

When honorarium is paid to an employee, such as mayors, chairpersons and local clubs and societies, it is not subject to withholding tax but is subject to income tax.[17] However, if the payment was not made to the above-mentioned category of people, it is subject to withholding tax rate between 33c to 48c.[18]

United Kingdom

Honoraria to employees are subject to Income Tax and National Insurance contributions under PAYE.[19][20] However payments are made based on services required and not bound by any contractual arrangements.

United States

An honorarium paid to a U.S. resident for services performed within or outside the U.S. is subject to federal (and in some cases state) income tax.[21]

See also


  1. Washington State Executive Ethics Board, ethics.wa.gov, An example of the rules for payment of an honorarium in the United States.
  2. cbc.ca, Sports, Coaches courted with payment in minor hockey, Gone are the days when all coaches were unpaid volunteers, By Kristina Rutherford, CBC Sports, Dec 05, 2008
  3. McMaster University, mcmaster.ca, A Canadian example of the use of an honorarium.
  4. Caring.com, What is the standard donation for a minister who performs a memorial service?, July 13, 2016
  5. funeralwise.com Good Etiquette Guide for the Surviving Family – Planning the Funeral
  6. heart2soul.com, Funeral Honorarium/Funeral Tipping, By Karen Zinn
  7. weddingwire.com, Honorariums for Minister
  8. weddings.costhelper.com, How Much Does an Officiant Cost?
  9. Australian Swimming Coaches & Teachers Association, An example of an Australian school paying a coaching honorarium.
  10. Australian Taxation Office, Australian tax law regarding the payment of honoraria
  11. 1 2 Queen's University, queensu.ca How to Pay an Honorarium
  12. McMaster University's Faculty of Health Sciences, THE HOOKER DISTINGUISHED VISITING PROFESSOR TRUST FUND
  13. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Report No. 43 of the Director of Audit
  14. University of Hong Kong , Mandatory Provident Fund
  15. Embassy of Indonesia in Ottawa, ARTICLE 21 INCOME TAX
  16. Pajak Indonesia, Konsultan Pajak, Taxation of Expatriate Employee
  17. New Zealand Inland Revenue website, When to tax honoraria
  18. New Zealand Inland Revenue website, Activities subject to withholding tax
  19. HM Revenue and Customs. "Honoraria and similar payments". PAYE for employers. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
  20. HM Revenue and Customs. "NIM02205 – Class 1 NICs: Earnings of employees and office holders: Honoraria and similar payments". National Insurance Manual. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
  21. UCAR, Honorarium Payment Guidelines
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