The Financial Enquirer
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My employer pays for my personal vehicle including loan payment/gas/maintenance. The vehicle is in my name and is used for business and personal use (approximately 80/20). Can I write off vehicle depreciation or anything else on my tax return?
My employer adds this as income to my taxable income on my T4; as this my personal vehicle used for both business and personal use, should the entire loan payment amount be added as income?
Yes, if the reimbursement is added to your income, then the allowance you are getting is considered unreasonable (which is why it is taxable). If it is not to be taxable, the reimbursement would have to be based on a per km usage of your car. You can deduct all expenses of the car using the form T777 Employment Expenses, and you will need to get the form T2202 (Conditions of Employment) signed by your employer so that you are able to claim your auto expenses. Auto expenses include: gas, maintenance, insurance, parking, license plate and drivers license payments, depreciation, interest on car loan, or lease payments.
I live in Barrie, Ontario and work in Ajax. The drive is 130 kms one way that's 260 kms per day - 1300 kms/week and 5200 kms/month. I keep all my gas, maintenance and car insurance receipts. Should I claim the mileage rate or the exact amount of my expenses per year? Can I expense both? Also, I will be moving to Oshawa in the next four months. What expenses can I write off with the sale of my home and moving expenses that will reduce my drive to 40 kms per day?
Hi. Thanks for writing. The travel from your home to work is not deductible as it is considered a personal expense. For the moving expenses, it depends on whether this is a new job for the expenses to be deductible. If you are just moving closer to your current office, the moving expenses are not deductible. However, if you are moving to a new office (within your company) or for a new job, then the moving expenses become deductible.
I would like to maintain an accurate log but am struggling with determining what qualifies as allowable business mileage.
I work mainly from my employer's office but use my personal car to see customers and suppliers, but do not get compensation from my employer. If I see a customer/supplier on my way to the office in the morning, does that leg count as 100% business mileage or does the leg from the customer/supplier to the office? Oor does it only count as business mileage if I go to the office first and then visit the customer/supplier and then return to the office?
Can you please advise?
Business mileage is sometimes not cut and dried. First, for you to be able to claim the mileage, your employee needs to complete the form T2200 Declaration of Conditions of Employment. Once this is completed, you are then able to claim your mileage.
Travelling from your home to the office is not considered business travel, but personal. But in saying that, if you go to a customer or supplier on the way to the office that would be considered business mileage. You have one of two ways to keep track of this: you can use the whole trip and then deduct the mileage used from office to home, or just use the mileage from the customer/supplier to the office (times 2 for a round trip this one is easier to use, in my opinion).
When calculating the actual expenses deductible, remember to use all the expenses of the car for the full year, including, gas, maintenance, and parking if any, and then it is prorated between business and personal. Also, I would keep some sort of diary (either a planner in the car or electronic record) of the trip and who you went to see. Also, the proration is total km driven for business divided by total km driven in the year.
I am wondering if there is a way for me to write off my business mileage even though I get a car allowance. It is a nominal allowance of $230 every two weeks and it is taxed. I drive about 25k miles a year just for work. Is there a way for me to still write off some mileage since the allowance is very minimal?
Yes, you can deduct you business mileage even if you get a car allowance. It sounds like you get a fixed amount every two weeks not based on actual mileage driven, and that allowance would be considered unreasonable, and that is why you are taxed on it. If your employer paid you a per km rate, this would not be taxable. Get your employer to fill out form T2200 Declaration of Conditions of Employment so that you can claim the mileage.
Then you need to keep a log of what business mileage you have completed, which can either be in the form of a desk calendar (showing the date, who you went to and the starting and stopping km) or electronic. (If you have a Blackberry or iPhone, both have apps that do this for you. I have an iPhone and use an app called VehiCal - Car Expense Management which I like). Also, you need to keep track of the total of all your expenses for your car and then it is prorated by total business km/ by total km driven in the year.
I will shortly be reimbursing employees for mileage incurred when driving around the community offering outreach programs for our non-profit agency. Is the money they will receive for mileage considered employment income?
Hi - thanks for your question. In regards to mileage reimbursed to employees, it depends on the amount and how you are giving it. If you are giving them a flat amount regardless of the amount driven, this would be included in income as it would be considered unreasonable by the Canada Revenue Agency. However, if you give them a per kilometer rate, this is not considered employment income and is tax free to the employees.
When giving a per kilometer rate, you cannot go over the prescribed rate as per CRA, which changes depending on the province you live in. Details can be found here:
Meal and vehicle rates used to calculate travel expenses for 2008
(Rates for 2009 will be available on the CRA Web site in 2010.)
Please note that travelling from the employee's home to the office is not considered business travel and would have to be included in income. If the employee goes from home to a client's, that would be considered business travel.
I am a single proprietorship sales rep. I own my car, there is no outstanding debt. I drive about 25,000 km per year. My question: is it financially better to claim my kilometres and maintenance (I keep a detailed log of all kilometres driven and maintenance costs) or lease a new car and take the deductions?
Please post this letter so others may benefit from this question.
Thanks for your question, and for wanting to share the answer with others. For taxes, it really doesn't matter, for as a sole proprietor, your car expenses are always prorated by your total kilometres to business kilometres. I guess the question you have to ask is if you want lease a new car with the monthly payments or continue on with your current car.
Can you tell me if both a husband and wife are doing separate business in the same home office,
can either one of them claim the home office deduction? For example, what if the husband is an employee doing office work in the home office, and the wife is doing some consulting business in same place?
Thanks for your question. There are rules as to who can claim home office expenses, but generally if both use the space for business you can both write it off, but it is split between the two of you (that is, you both cannot claim the same items twice). But in your situation, as one is an employee, the company you work for would have to sign a T2200 (Conditions of Employment) and state that you are required as part of your contract to have an office at home. Usually if you just do some work at home instead of the office you would not qualify for this deduction.
For more information, take a look at this Canada Revenue Agency document on home office expenses (Acrobat [PDF] format). On page 24, you will find details about business use of home expenses.
I have an incorporated company and I am the only person in the company (director). I am buying a new car and I know I can write off some capital cost allowance if I use this car for business. My question is: Does it matter whether I use my name or the company's name to purchase the car? In other words, can I still write off capital cost allowance if I use my own name to purchase the car?
However, I wonder if I use my company to buy the car, why can't I claim the price of the car as a company expense instead of doing the capital cost allowance thing, when tax deduction is concerned.
Generally speaking, if you are the only employee of a corporation it is better to leave the automobile in your personal name and not the name of the business. Canada Revenue Agency has rules concerning the business use of an automobile, one of which is that you must keep records of the kilometres driven for business and personal/pleasure in a log book. If the car is owned by the corporation, it is subject to a standby charge for the personal use of the car and becomes taxable in the employee’s hand. But if the car is owned by the employee they may receive a tax free allowance for the per kilometre use of the car. Currently, the rate is 45 cents for the first 5000 km and 39 cents afterwards. You must keep a record of the travel and the company is entitled to claim a GST input credit on the allowance.
The rules for deciding if something is a capital cost or expense for the business can be complex, but a general rule to follow is if the item you buy has a useful life of greater than one year and is over $250 then it is to be capitalized and amortized over its useful life. This allows for the company to better match its expenses with its income. A car has a life of at least 5 to 10 years and normally most companies will write if off at 30% per year, to try and reflect the use of the car in each year. If you go to the Canada Revenue Agency Web site, it will give you the rules for what needs to be capitalized.
My wife sometimes uses her personal vehicle to visit customers for her employer. The company pays a mileage allowance of $ 0.31/ km. Is there any legal minimum a company is required to reimburse? $0.31/km seems low, especially when compared to the government figure of $0.44-$.50/km. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
There is no legal minimum that a company is required to reimburse for the use of a personal vehicle. What you can do is see if her employer will give her a T2200 (Conditions of Employment). Then you can say that the car allowance is unreasonable, write off all car expenses on the basis of business use to total use of the car and include the mileage reimbursement in her income for the year. If her employer will not give her a T2200, you are not able to do this and would have to live with the rate they have set.
My husband drives his vehicle to get from job site to job site within the metro and surrounding area of Edmonton. It is a requirement of his job that he use his own vehicle to get from job site to job site.
One accountant we said that even though he doesnt get a motor vehicle allowance from the company he does get reimbursed per kilometer for fuel and therefore is not eligible to declare his other vehicle expenses (i.e., oil changes, tune ups, tires, vehicle depreciation, etc.). This accountant said that he therefore isnt eligible to submit the T2200 form.
Another accountant we spoke to said even though he does get reimbursed per kilometer for fuel that this doesnt constitute a vehicle allowance and that he is eligible to claim his other vehicle expenses and he should get the T2200 form completed so that he can claim tune ups, tires, oil changes, vehicle depreciation, insurance, etc.
Which advice is correct? Many thanks for your reply.
If you have a T2200 stating that your husband is required to use his vehicle for work, and he is paid on a per kilometre basis, he is still able to claim all his vehicle expenses. The way to do this is to include the amount that his company has reimbursed him as income in the tax year. Then he is able to claim all of his automobile expenses that he has incurred in 2005. This would then be prorated based on his total business mileage to total kilometres driven in the year. This is done on the form t777 to calculate the amount that he is able to deduct.
The one downfall to this is that sometimes the inclusion of the allowance can increase your taxes owing instead of decreasing them depending on the amount of the allowance and the expenses of the vehicle and kilometres used for business.
I work full-time as an employee and do a small amount of business on the side. I dont make enough in my side business to justify the time it would take to track and calculate every legitimate expense, so I just want to claim a vehicle expense based on business use mileage. Can I use a simple per kilometer figure to deduct my vehicle expense? Is it $0.31/km for 2005 in Ontario?
I would like to be able to write off a flat rate for kilometres used on my work vehicle each year, rather than using fuel and maintenance receipts. I know of other people at work (we are required to provide our own work vehicles) who do this, but I cannot find the proper forms. Any help would be appreciated.
For calculating business use of a personal vehicle, you need to use the actual expenses prorated on a basis of total business kilometres to total kilometres of the vehicle. You cannot just use the prescribed rate for kilometres to calculate the amount of automobile expenses, unfortunately. You will have add up all your expenses to get the correct figure. You must have a form T2000 (signed by your employer, if applicable) and you would use form T777 on your tax return.
A friend of mine owns a farm but has taken a job to add to the farm income. It is a permanent position and he is paid by the hour. His commute is approximately 100 km one way. Can he claim vehicle expense for his commute? Thanks.
Hi and thanks for your question. It does not look like your friend would be able to claim the vehicle expenses for this commute. Canada Revenue Agency considers the driving to and from work as personal, but there are some cases where the commute would be deductible. The following is an excerpt from the following link:
Motor Vehicle Expenses Claimed by Self-Employed Individuals
which explains the deductibility of auto expenses. The paragraph below explains the situations when travelling from home to office is deductible.
Although expenses incurred in travelling between different premises of the same business are deductible by an individual who otherwise qualifies, expenses incurred by the individual for the purpose of travelling between the individuals home and place of business are not, unless it is established that the home is the base of business operations. If the individual has an office or other fixed place of business located elsewhere, the home is normally regarded as not being the base of business operations. The fact that all services are rendered at some other persons place of business does not necessarily make that place the individuals base of business operations. The individuals home may be the base of business operations even though a room therein is not set aside and used solely for the purpose of earning income. The following are examples of homes that may be regarded as the base of business operations:
(a) the home of a specialist in anaesthesia who performs all office functions of the practice at home, takes emergency calls there, renders all services to patients at one or more hospitals and has no office or other accommodation at the hospital or at any other place other than the home;
(b) the home of an independent real estate agent who has an office there, has no business accommodation elsewhere and renders services to clients at their homes or at the sites of real properties; and
(c) the home of a plumber, electrician or painter whose office is at home where all supplies are kept, who has no other place of business and who renders all services to customers at whatever places are necessary to fulfill contractual obligations.
¶ 25. Travelling in the course of carrying on a business does not include travelling from a place where one business is carried on to another place where an entirely different business is carried on. For observations on Travelling to Rental Properties, please see the current version of Rental Income, a supplementary income tax guide.
¶ 26. By virtue of section 67, motor vehicle expenses are not deductible to the extent they are unreasonable.
I recently had my taxes done by [a professional tax preparation service] and they didnt seem to up on home-based businesses. I was told I wasnt able to claim (and receive back) my business expenses because my business income didnt meet or come close to my expenses. I was involved with two different businesses and quit one. However, Ive been told I can claim and get back all of my expenses as others in my line of business do so. Im wondering how would I do this?
Id like to go back to [the professional tax preparation service] with some instructions on how to do it so they dont brush me off. I appreciate your assistance.
In general, if one of my clients has a business that has a loss I would report it on the tax return. It is not up to me to say you cant use these expenses in your business, but it is up to you to be able to support those deductions as a business expense if Revenue Canada ever audits your books. When looking at my clients situations, I might, based on information that I have at that time, suggest that you might not want to deduct the losses from your income. You havent given me enough information to be able to say definitely what I would advise, but the following are some general guidelines.
Your income from a business does not have to cover your expenses before you are allowed to deduct expenses for your business. It is not unusual to have a business lose in its final year or in the first couple of years, and those expenses would be deductible from your income for that year.
In general you can deduct expenses as long as they meet these criteria:
As a rule, you can deduct any reasonable current expense you incur to earn business income. The expenses you can deduct include any GST/HST you incur on these expenses. However, since you cannot deduct personal expenses, enter only the business part of expenses on the form.
You cannot claim expenses you incur to buy capital property.
Enter business part only means that any of the following are not included as part of your expenses:
- Salary or wages (including drawings) paid to self, partner(s), or both;
- Cost of saleable goods or services that you, your family, or your partners and their families used (including items such as food, home maintenance, or business properties);
- Donations to charities and political contributions;
- Interest and penalties you paid on your income tax;
- Life insurance premiums;
- The part of any expenses that can be attributed to non-business use of business property; and
- Most fines and penalties imposed after March 22, 2004 under the laws of Canada or a province or a foreign country.
As this is a general rule, there are other things to look at. Has your home based business ever made a profit? Has income been generated over the years?
Depending on your circumstances I could conclude the same as the professional tax preparation service you went to, but in general you should be able to deduct the expenses for your home-based business. But again, you must remember that you must be able to back up these expenses if you do have an audit.
I hope this helps you in deciding if you should deduct your home-based business expenses. If you have any other questions, please feel free to send them along!
My wife and I have a numbered company in Alberta (1234567 Alberta Ltd). We reside in a community where the husband holds a good job. The wife owns a fitness club operating as XYZ Widgets (fictitious name, of course) in a neighboring community (50 miles), to which she commutes daily. As I understand it, Revenue Canada will not allow us to claim our vehicle for the commute as we choose to reside in this community and drive daily. My question is this
could we start another business
operating as Shelly's Widgets (providing we make an honest attempt at making money) in our community? That way she would have two businesses operating as
under our limited company and therefore allowing her to claim all travel expenses between towns?
information that you have is correct in that Revenue Canada will not allow the deduction of motor vehicle expenses between your home and your place of business. Normally, if you were self-employed, you would calculate all your motor vehicle expenses and then prorate them over business mileage to total mileage, but in an incorporated company the procedure is different. As long as you are reimbursed for actual mileage you do on behalf of the business, which is not unreasonable, then it is deductible in the company and you do not need to report it on you personal tax return. What this means is that if you are reimbursed for a flat $500.00 a month, no matter how many miles you drive, it would be considered unreasonable and you would have to report it in your personal tax return as income. But, if you are given the prescribed rate of .31 cents a kilometer then this would be considered reasonable and you would not have to report it in your personal tax return. But this still excludes your driving from your home to the business in the other town.
Your proposal to set up a new company offering to sell widgets in the community where you live and deducting automobile expenses for this would be allowable as long as you are given an allowance depending on the kilometers driven. Mileage could be deducted to the other town as long as you have customers in that town or prospective customers. The problem arises in that Revenue Canada has what they called a General Anti-Avoidance rule that can be used to disallow the expense. If the business sole purpose is to allow you to write off the automobile expenses between the two towns, this would not be allowed.
I would suggest that if you did this, you could write off mileage to the other town by prorating it between the two businesses, depending on some common area like sales on that day or another factor. The amount for the fitness club would not be deductible, but the other would. I would keep a fairly detailed log of who you went to visit and when for the second company, along with the mileage (start and ending kilometres) of each trip (this can be purchased at most office supply stores) that you have to prove what trips were made on behalf of the second business.
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If I decide to register my business as a sole proprietorship under a name other than my own do I have to have a business bank account? I only want to have a business to write off all my expenses that go into running it but I dont think Ill make enough money to actually have another account other than my personal one. Can I still write off expenses and such just using my personal account while still having this business?
If you use a name other then your own you must register your business. Usually once you start getting cheques in the name of the business, you are not able to cash them without having a business account in that name. One way around this is to have the cheques payable to you instead of the business name.
Even if you decide not to register the business under a name other then your own, you can still write off expenses you incur to earn income. You would have to keep track of those expenses (with receipts kept) and a record of some sort of the income you have made (e.g. copies of invoices) while using your personal account. On your tax return, you would fill out a business
statement and record your income and expenses with the profit being added to your other income or a loss being subtracted from your other income.
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Since we started out business a year ago, I reckon we have received $2 million cash from our customers. If this is the case, why do our accounts show $3 million, as it seems a bit dangerous to include sales we have not yet been paid for?
Accounting is done on an accrual basis, which means that you record transactions as they occur and not when you receive the money. This works for both income and expenses, so in your case the $3 million in sales is the actual amount of business you have done during the year (paid and not paid). Of course, when you look at your expenses it should show all expenses recorded in your accounting program even if they have not been paid.
The matter of only receiving $2 million in cash means that you have customers owing you $1 million which you have not received. This seems high (1/3 of sales) and maybe you should be consider reviewing your payment terms and credit policies currently in force. A review of the amount outstanding by customer should also be done and a provision should be made for amounts you estimate will not be recovered. (This would become an expense and would lower your profit). One of the easiest ways to speed up the collection of money from customers is to send them a statement every month showing outstanding balances, along with charging them a service charge on invoices past your terms. This charge may never be paid but it will hopefully make customers who are always late pay on time.
The use of a collection agency for accounts, which you figure will you have exhausted all efforts, may help in the collections of your really old accounts. The downfall with this is that you have run the risk of losing the customer for good, so this method should only be used in rare circumstances. You should talk to your accountant about approaches that would suit your business and industry better, as this is just general information on collection policies as a whole.
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I have a small business that is incorporated and I do all of my own bookkeeping using Quickbooks and I do all of my own taxes. I keep it pretty simple net income of my business is zero so I file a T2 Short and I dont file a CT23.
This year I would like to pay dividends from income of previous years that I already paid taxes on. But I am not sure how to report this on my Balance Sheet, and I am not sure if I can still file a T2 short. Can you help me?
Janet, when you declare a dividend you show it on the balance sheet as a liability (called Dividend payable). This amount also shows in the retained
earnings section of your balance sheet as a reduction in your retained earning. When the dividend is actually paid it is shown as a debit to dividend payable and a credit to bank. Once the dividend is paid, you must issue a T5 slip to the person who received the dividend.
The T2 short form can only be used in the following circumstances:
- The company is a Canadian-controlled private corporation.
- It has either a nil net income for tax purposes for the year or a loss for income tax purposes for the year.
- It has gross revenue for the year of $500,000 or less.
- It has a permanent establishment in only one province or territory.
- It is not claiming any refundable tax credits (other than a refund of installments paid).
- It did not receive or pay out any taxable dividends.
As you intend to pay out dividends, you would not be eligible to use the T2 short form but would have to use the regular form.
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What sort of allowance is my employer allowed to give me for using my car for work-related travel?
Your employer is allowed to give any amount that it wants for the use of a car owned by you. However, Revenue Canada states that any allowance that is unreasonable is taxable to you. The question of what is unreasonable can be complicated, but it is safe to say that if the allowance has nothing to do with the actual mileage driven for business, then it is taxable.
Tax-free allowances must meet either of the tests below to not be included in your income:
If your allowance does not meet the two tests or is otherwise unreasonably low, you may add it to your income and claim the deduction for automobile expenses.
- The allowance is based on kilometers driven in the course of your employment.
- No reimbursement for automobile use is provided in addition to your tax-free automobile allowance, except that you may receive automobile cost reimbursements in respect of supplementary business insurance, parking, and toll or ferry charges without making the allowance taxable.
If your employer chooses to pay a non-taxable allowance, Revenue Canada does have a maximum prescribed rate, which in 1998 was 35 cents per kilometer for the first 5,000 kilometers and 29 cents per kilometer thereafter. Your employer can pay more than this, but Revenue Canada may question the reasonableness of this tax-free allowance.
For company owned vehicles, the rules are different and more complex and are dependent on the individual circumstances.
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What is the best accounting program to use for my small business?
There are a wide variety of accounting programs that can be used for a small business. The three that Nevcon supports are:
- Simply Accounting
When you are looking for a program you should consider the types of transactions you are doing, any limitations of the actual programs and the ease with which you can use the program.
For most non-accounting people, ease of use should be the first consideration. Before purchasing a program, you should get a demo disk of the program so you can try it out for yourself. See if it is able to do the things you want it to do, by trying some of your daily transactions on the sample data. Finally, talk to your accountant before you buy to see what he or she recommends and if he or she will set up the accounting system for you.
Establishing the starting numbers for an existing business, in your accounting program, is just as important as having the right accounting software. If you are not sure how to set up the program with the correct numbers, it would be less expensive, more efficient and more accurate to have your accountant set it up for you.
Setting up small business systems is one area in which Nevcon can help you to successfully and seamlessly change to a computerized accounting system.
Click here to contact Nevcon for more information.
Click here for more information on recommended accounting software.
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