Where the 20-hour test is not met, the ongoing nature and labour requirements must be considered and still not be subject to TOSI.
CRA released the promised guidance for employment expenses incurred by shareholder-employees to be deductible:
For an employee to deduct travel or motor vehicle expenses against employment income, the employee must be normally required to work away from the employer’s place of business, be required to pay the travel expense under the contract of employment, and have a signed and completed T2200. Also, the employee cannot receive an allowance excluded from income.
In 2017, CRA began denying travel expenses claimed on the personal tax return of many employees who were also shareholders of the employer or related to a shareholder. After receiving concerns from stakeholders regarding this new assessing practice, CRA reversed their assessments, indicating that “clear guidelines for taxpayers and their representatives” were important to the Canadian self-assessment system and that additional consultation and guidance was needed in this area.
In September of 2019 CRA released the promised guidance. It noted that the following conditions had to be met for employment expenses incurred by shareholder-employees to be deductible:
The expenses were incurred as part of the employment duties and not as a shareholder.
The worker was required to pay for the expenses personally as part of their employment duties.
When the employee is also a shareholder, the written contract may not be adequate, and the implied requirements may be more difficult to demonstrate. However, CRA noted that both of these conditions may be satisfied if the shareholder-employee can establish that the expenses are comparable to expenses incurred by employees (who are not shareholders or related to a shareholder) with similar duties at the company or at other businesses similar in size, industry and services provided.
ACTION ITEM: Instead of deducting amounts against employment income, consider whether it would be better for the company to reimburse expenses of shareholder-employees, or perhaps, pay a tax-free travel allowance. If amounts will continue to be paid personally, retain support that shows how the travel expenditures are reasonable as compared to those of other similar arm’s length workers.
IRS announced a new process to facilitate eligible individuals in becoming compliant with their U.S. tax obligations, in conjunction with renouncing their U.S. citizenship
On September 6, 2019, the IRS announced Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens, a new process to facilitate eligible individuals in becoming compliant with their U.S. tax obligations, in conjunction with renouncing their U.S. citizenship (IR-2019-151). There was no announced specified termination date; however, a closing date will be announced in the future.
Eligible individuals will be required to file U.S. tax returns, including all relevant disclosure filings, including financial account disclosures, for the year they renounce their citizenship and the five preceding years. Eligibility criteria include the following:
Only individuals (not corporations, trusts, partnerships, estates or other entities) are eligible.
Past non-compliance must be non-willful.
The individual must never have filed as a U.S. citizen or resident (an FAQ question indicated that prior filing of a 1040NR return, in the belief the individual was neither a resident nor a citizen will not disqualify them).
The individual’s net assets cannot exceed $2 million U.S. at either the date of relinquishing citizenship or the date of the submission under these procedures, and their average net income tax for the five years preceding loss of citizenship cannot exceed an inflation-adjusted amount ($168,000 U.S. for 2019).
Taxes payable for the six years required to be filed cannot exceed $25,000 in aggregate after foreign tax credits and before penalties or interest are calculated. This does not include the “exit tax” which might apply outside the procedure, but is also not reduced for any U.S. withholdings.
The individual must have relinquished U.S. citizenship after March 18, 2010.
The individual must obtain a Social Security Number, if they do not already have one.
Assuming these criteria are met, no penalties or interest will apply, and any taxes payable for the six years, up to the $25,000 maximum, will be waived entirely. The individual will also be exempt from the “covered expatriate” rules, which could otherwise impose additional tax and filing requirements. However, the IRS will process submissions by non-eligible individuals under the ordinary rules, potentially attracting significant interest and/or penalty charges.
ACTION ITEM: Often, children of U.S. parents are surprised to learn that they too are considered U.S. persons and subject to U.S. taxation. This program may assist them in correcting their affairs and obligations.
Produce a T2200 which indicate that motor vehicle expenditures were requirements of employment with records such as repair receipts
In a September 17, 2019 Tax Court of Canada case, at issue was the deductibility of vehicle expenses, and in particular, the portion of total vehicle use that was for employment purposes. While initially challenged by CRA, the Court eventually accepted the credit card statements as support for the amounts expended. The taxpayer held and produced a T2200 which indicated that motor vehicle expenditures were requirements of employment.
Taxpayer loses – vehicle expenses
The taxpayer had initially claimed 90% employment usage but later asserted that only 1,015 of her total 1,353 kilometres travelled (75%) were for employment purposes. This percentage is used to determine the portion of total vehicle expenses that can be deducted. The Court then noted that the total kilometres driven for the year were more likely approximately 10,000 based on the odometer readings listed on the third-party garage repair invoices provided throughout the year. As the reported employment kilometres (which were supported by a vehicle log) were about 10% of the total reported on the invoices, only 10% of expenses were allowed.
ACTION ITEM: In addition to employment/business travel logs, CRA may ask for support of total travel. Retain records that support total kilometres traveled such as repair receipts.
Legally adopting the child of a common-law partner may claim the costs under the adoption expense tax credit.
In a June 20, 2019 Technical Interpretation, CRA was asked whether a taxpayer legally adopting the child of his or her common-law partner would be eligible to claim the costs under the adoption expense tax credit ($16,255 @ 15% for 2019). CRA opined that the credit could be claimed by the adoptive parent, but not by the biological parent, despite the usual ability for spouses to split this credit. CRA also noted that the provincial adoption law would have to be reviewed to determine whether a step-parent could legally adopt the child. In this case, noted as being in Alberta, provincial law allows the claim.
ACTION ITEM: Ensure to provide receipts associated with the adoption of a step-child when delivering your personal tax information.
The Department of Finance announced the climate action incentive payment amounts for 2020. The following amounts may be claimed on the 2019 personal tax returns:
On December 16, 2019, the Department of Finance announced the climate action incentive payment amounts for 2020. These payments are associated with the provinces that are subject to the federal backstop legislation. The following amounts may be claimed on the 2019 personal tax returns:
|Single adult/first adult in a couple||$224||$243||$405||$444|
|Second adult in a couple or first child of a single parent||$112||$121||$202||$222|
|Each child under 18 not already included above||$56||$61||$101||$111|
|Baseline example for family of four||$448||$486||$809||$888|
A 10% supplement is available for those that live in rural areas (communities outside of census metropolitan areas, CMAs).
The 2020 climate action incentive payment payable to eligible Albertans will reflect fuel charge proceeds generated over a 15-month period. This consists of three months (January – March 2020) with a carbon price of $20 per tonne, plus 12 months (April 2020 – March 2021) with a carbon price of $30.
Also note that no federal incentive payments will be available for residents of New Brunswick this year since it will introduce a provincial program commencing on April 1, 2020 which removes the applicability of the federal backstop legislation.
ACTION ITEM: Ensure that changes in family status (marriage, new children etc.) are included in your 2019 personal tax return to get the full benefit of the program. Also note that most other provinces have similar rebate/incentive programs in place.
zero-emission vehicles, associated with an income earning purpose, may be eligible for a 100% immediate write-off
The amount of income an individual can earn without paying tax (basic personal amount) will begin increasing in 2020. In the first year, it will rise to $13,229 (from $12,069 in 2019), and will reach $15,000 in 2023. The benefit will begin to be phased out when an individual has earnings of approximately $150,000.
The purchase of a zero-emission vehicle, if associated with an income earning purpose (e.g. used in a business), may be eligible for a 100% immediate write-off as long as the federal government purchase incentive was not obtained.
TFSAs– As of 2017, the average number of contributions per individual was 14.49, the average fair market value of each account was $19,633, and the average unused space was $30,947.
There are 2.21 million corporations in Canada (according to 2016 statistics that were recently released). Total tax payable for 2016 was $72.21 Billion.
Commuting employment expenses taxable? Can i deduct employment travel costs, job, business related travel cost from taxes?
In an August 15, 2019 Tax Court of Canada case, at issue was the deductibility of a number of employment expenses (primarily travel, lodging and motor vehicle expenses) incurred by the taxpayer. While the taxpayer resided in Ottawa, he signed an employment contract with a company based in Regina. The employment contract stated that the new employment position would be “based from our yet to be determined office in Ottawa, Ontario.” For the 2012 and 2013 tax years, the taxpayer shuttled by air between Ottawa and Regina weekly. In order to deduct travel costs incurred by the employee, the employee must have been required to travel away from the employer’s place of business.
The taxpayer argued that his home in Ottawa was a place of employment, and therefore, costs of travel between his work location in Ottawa, and the work location in Regina, were deductible as they were incurred in the course of employment.
Taxpayer loses, mostly
The Court rejected the taxpayer’s assertion, finding that the employer did not have a place of business in Ottawa. The Court observed that the fact that the employee might choose to “squeeze in” work (in this case on some Mondays or Fridays) at his home in Ottawa did not, without more, constitute the home being an employment location. Further, there were no photographs of the home office, testimony describing it, or home office expenses claimed. The Court stated that the employment contract did not alter its decision as there was no evidence that the employer made any effort to find an office in Ottawa, and no evidence related to work pertinent to Ottawa was provided.
As such, travel between Ottawa and Regina was personal, and the associated lodging and travel costs were denied.
The Court also reiterated that the appeal was considered without regard to the distance between the employee’s home and the employer assigned office: the two locations could be in the same municipality or different provinces. In other words, commuting to work, no matter how far, is considered personal. However, note that there are some exceptions to this rule, such as where the individual travels to a temporary special work site, or a remote work location.
ACTION ITEM: If considering the acceptance of employment that requires significant commuting, consider that the commuting costs likely will not be deductible.
PROTECTING YOUR TAX INFORMATION, CRA guidelines, identity theft protection, CRA suggestions to safeguard tax information
CRA released a Tax Tip (Protecting your personal information) on August 6, 2019 which provided various suggestions to safeguard tax information, including the following:
1. Signing up for My Account or My Business Account and registering for email notifications. Notifications will be sent when paper mail is returned to CRA, or when certain other changes are made on one’s account.
2. Using CRA protocols to authenticate a caller’s identity. An option is being introduced to set a unique Personal Identification Number which must be provided before a call centre agent can access the individual’s accounts.
3. Verifying a purported CRA caller by requesting their badge number and calling the individual or business enquiries line for confirmation.
The Tip also provides guidance on steps individuals who may be victims of identity theft should take, including contacting CRA to request enhanced security measures be placed on their accounts.
ACTION ITEM: Review the above suggestions and adopt those that are appropriate.
Each program’s terms must be examined to determine whether such a trust interest would properly be considered an asset of the individual
One common planning technique for disabled individuals involves the use of a trust under which the trustees possess ultimate discretion over any distributions to be made. In other words, the beneficiary has no enforceable right to receive any distributions from the trust unless or until the trustees exercise their discretion in the beneficiary’s favour. The intent of such a trust is that the trust assets not be considered assets of the beneficiary, such that they will not influence the beneficiary’s eligibility for various social benefits. Such a trust is commonly referred to as a “Henson trust”.
In a January 25, 2019 Supreme Court of Canada case, a disabled individual (SA) was denied rent assistance on the basis that the assets of a trust under her father’s will were considered to be assets in which she had a beneficial interest. SA had refused to provide information on the trust’s assets to the program administrator (MVHC) in conjunction with her annual application for rent assistance.
Consistent with a “Henson trust”, the trust terms appointed SA and her sister as trustees, required two trustees at all times, and provided the trustees with discretion to pay as much of the income or capital as they “decide is necessary or advisable” for SA’s maintenance or benefit. The terms also provided that any remaining assets at the time of SA’s death be distributed in accordance with her will, or intestacy law if her will did not provide direction. Finally, in the event of her sister’s inability or unwillingness to serve as trustee, SA could appoint a replacement trustee.
The Court held that the term “assets” as used in the program documentation did not include the discretionary trust interest, which was more akin to “a mere hope” of future distributions. It was reasonable for MVHC to require details of the trust structure, and SA had previously provided that legal documentation. As SA’s interest in the trust was not an asset, MVHC could not require disclosure of details of the trust assets as a condition of her rental assistance. MVHC was required to exclude the trust assets from the total assets considered when determining available rental assistance. MVHC was also required to compensate her for assistance denied to date.
Limitations to the ruling
The Court noted that this does not mean that the interest of a disabled person in a “Henson trust” could never be treated as an asset. This would depend on the rules and regulations governing the relevant program.
ACTION ITEM: The judges’ comments indicate that each program’s terms must be examined to determine whether such a trust interest would properly be considered an asset of the individual. Consider whether a Henson trust would benefit a disabled relative.