TORONTO – For most Canadians, tax claims can be mundane. Expenses for school or the costs of moving are pretty straight-forward. But for others, income tax season is an opportunity to think outside the box and test the limits of what can be claimed.
A look at some of the more daring tax claims Canadians have made over the years:
To every cloud a silver lining
Paul DioGuardi, a Toronto tax lawyer, once successfully defended a man in Tax Court who attempted to claim a portion of the cost of his Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud as a business expense but had it rejected.
The client’s successful business afforded him the means to buy the costly automobile, which he used as a personal vehicle and as a delivery car for his clients. But at the time in Canada, nothing above the expense of a Cadillac had ever been allowed as luxury car deductions for business use.
The presiding judge, however, owned a Rolls Royce and allowed the full deduction of automobile expenses related to his work.
Claiming Fluffy as a dependent
Lisa Gittens, a Toronto-based tax professional with H&R Block, says a woman came to her office last year, trying to claim her cat as a dependent and bringing in all her receipts for food and vet bills.
“It was like, ‘Yes, I understand you give love and support to this cat, but Revenue Canada’s criteria for a dependent is quite different,” Gittens recalls telling the woman.
But if your pet is working for you, you may be able to claim their costs. A farmer was once allowed to claim cat and dog food because they were outdoor pets that were acquired to keep wildlife away from his blueberry crops, according to H&R Block.
A rewarding wardrobe, literally
Tax lawyer Paul DioGuardi’s firm also successfully defended a client’s right to claim a $5,000 Brioni suit that he only wore when he did media appearances, advertisements and television commercials.
Typically you don’t get to claim your normal wardrobe as a tax deduction. But in this case it was a single dedicated-use suit and was part of the client’s persona, DioGuardi said.
Putting for green
John Sliskovic, a tax partner at EY’s private client services business in London, Ont., says there’s always questions about what’s personal and what’s business when it comes to expenses.
“I’ve had the odd client ask if they could deduct the cost of their golf clubs,” he said. “I never know if they’re serious or joking in that type of thing.”
For the record, Sliskovic says you can’t unless, of course, you’re a professional golfer.
“Only they’re probably getting their clubs for free from the manufacturer,” he laughed.