Hundreds of thousands of Canadians could be eligible for a lucrative tax deduction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But just how many get to claim that deduction could depend on their employers, and on how the Canada Revenue Agency deals with a series of questions raised by the sudden changes that have compelled millions of Canadians to work from home.
Armando Minicucci, a partner with the accounting firm Grant Thornton, said he expects a big increase in the number of Canadians able to claim a deduction for turning part of their home into an office.
“I would say the number would have to be in the hundreds of thousands,” he said.
It’s called the “work-space-in-the-home” deduction and you can claim it if you work from home more than 50 per cent of the time, or if you have a separate home office and use it to meet clients.
Either way, your employer has to certify that working from home is a condition of your employment. According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), 174,210 Canadians took advantage of the deduction on their 2018 tax returns, claiming an average per person of $1,561.
The deduction allows those who qualify for it to reduce their tax bills by claiming a portion of their household expenses — such as utilities, cleaning and rent.
Normally, the number of people who can claim the deduction is limited. To qualify, you either have to spend more than 50 per cent of your time working from home, or you have to use a home office exclusively for work and regularly meet clients there.
How the pandemic changed things
The current rules require anyone claiming the deduction to get their employer to fill out a form — T2200 — certifying that working from home is a condition of employment. Without that form, the claim would be rejected, said the CRA.
But that was before the pandemic hit.
In March, as COVID-19 began to spread in Canada, public health authorities urged Canadians to stay home. Governments issued orders closing non-essential businesses and employers across the country began telling employees who could do their jobs remotely to work from home.
By mid-April, 3.3 million Canadians had moved out of their regular workplaces and were working from home, according to Statistics Canada’s June Labour Force Survey. While that number dropped by 400,000 in June, millions of Canadians are still working from home.
Some employers, like Ottawa-based Shopify, have told employees they can work from home indefinitely.
By September, those sent home to work in March will have worked at least half the year at home — potentially putting them in a position to qualify for the deduction.
“We’re getting further and further along in this pandemic where a lot of employees are going to have exceeded the six-month mark, and in that situation they should qualify,” said Minicucci.
“But for those employees that have not worked the full six months or more at home, there’s a question with respect to whether or not they meet the eligibility criteria.”
Whether those who haven’t worked a full six months from home will be allowed to claim the deduction is one of the questions Canada’s tax experts have asked the CRA to clarify, said Minicucci.
Keep those receipts
Even if some of those working from home end up falling short of the six-month benchmark, they can still deduct the cost of many of the supplies they have had to consume to get the job done, he said.
“You’re looking at things like pens, paper, ink cartridges for your printer at home,” he said. “Those are items that are consumed. Capital items, unfortunately, are not deductible. So if you buy a printer, not deductible. If you buy a laptop, not deductible. Those are capital items.
“But if you buy items that are being consumed during the course of performing your employment duties, they are deductible. The 50 per cent criteria is not a condition in order to claim expenses for items that you consumed while performing your duties at home.”
Minicucci said now is a good time to talk with your employer about updating your employment contract, and to keep track of your receipts.
The pandemic has raised a number of questions that Canada’s tax experts have asked the CRA to clarify, he added.
For example, will the CRA require each person to have a formal employment contract? Given the stay at home orders, should meeting clients through videoconference or teleconference platforms from home count as “meeting clients at home”? Should the CRA relax the rule that says you can’t claim internet as a work-from-home expense because it’s considered a fixed cost?
A lot of paperwork for employers
The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) also anticipates an increase in the number of Canadians claiming the home workspace deduction for the first time, and is also calling for the CRA to clarify several questions.
For example — should the CRA still require employers to fill out a T2200 form for every employee they asked to work at home?
“Employers will now be required to complete a great number of T2200s,” CPA Canada said in a background paper. “This will add a significant administrative burden for employers. To alleviate the burden, consideration should be given to using an alternative method to simplify the process for the pandemic.”
CPA Canada said it would like the CRA to clarify whether the “more than 50 per cent of the time” benchmark is calculated for the tax year, or for the period the employee was required to work from home. It also said the CRA should consider simplifying the process by allowing taxpayers to claim a per diem deduction for costs related to working from home.
No rule changes planned, says Finance
However, officials from the CRA and the Finance Department told CBC News there are no plans currently to change the rules on the home workspace deduction.
Conservative revenue critic Marty Morantz is calling on the government to clarify its plans for the deduction, and has put questions about the deduction on the House of Commons’ order paper. He said those who have been working from home should be allowed to claim the deduction.
“I think it would be very reasonable for the government to say to folks who were doing their best to comply during the crisis by working at home, and incurring expenses, that they should have the opportunity to claim the deduction,” he said.
Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, agreed.
“The deduction exists for a reason — to defray work-related costs that just happen to be home-related and if that reason now applies to a broader class of people, they should be able to make use of it,” he said.
Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Albanian man extradited to Canada in connection with deadly 2014 crash in Richmond, B.C. – CBC.ca
Richmond RCMP have announced the successful extradition of an Albanian man who left Canada in 2014 shortly after being involved in a crash that claimed the life of a 36-year-old cyclist.
In a statement, RCMP wrote that on the afternoon of July 30, 2014, 33-year-old Erjon Kashari was driving a red Pontiac Aztek northbound, approaching the intersection of Russ Baker Way and Gilbert Road.
The statement said the vehicle was “approaching a red light at the intersection, when it suddenly veered right, drove over a concrete island at the intersection and struck a cyclist, before coming to rest in the grass off-road.”
The crash killed cyclist Christy Mahy of Richmond, who died in hospital.
Kashari was in Canada on a work permit at the time but left shortly afterwards. RCMP said charges were laid and a warrant was issued for his arrest in June 2018.
In July 2019, Kashari was taken into custody by Albanian police and held for extradition. The Richmond RCMP’s General Investigation Section then began the process to bring Kashari back to Canada to stand trial.
On Aug. 11, 2020, Richmond investigators travelled to Albania where Kashari was transferred to their custody and escorted back to Canada. He remains in custody facing one count of criminal negligence causing death.
Police say Interpol, Albanian authorities, the Department of Justice, the International Assistance Group, the Canada Border Services Agency, and RCMP liaison officers in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Albania all assisted with the successful extradition.
Rola Dagher, president of Cisco Systems Canada, calls on Canadians to help rebuild Beirut – CBC.ca
When Rola Dagher first heard about the blast that rocked Beirut last week, she couldn’t move.
“Shocked, heartbroken, devastated and I froze. I don’t think I got out of my chair for four hours,” Dagher told CBC Toronto News at 6 host Dwight Drummond in an interview that aired on Wednesday.
Her nephew, a volunteer firefighter, was missing and her sister told her, crying, that she didn’t know if he was alive or not. After five hours and many phone calls, Dagher said her sister finally found out he had survived.
The blast itself was unreal, she said.
“It was like watching a movie. We couldn’t believe that it was real. I couldn’t stop crying. But at the same time, I was absolutely determined to find my nephew and to make sure that everyone is safe first,” she said.
Dagher, a Lebanese Canadian businesswoman who now lives in Toronto, said she knew she had to help. Thirty-one years ago, she left Lebanon, where she was born. She is now president of Cisco Systems Canada.
She said called about 10 Lebanese-Canadian leaders she knew and convinced them they had to give back to the community.
“I said, ‘We can’t be sitting here and just watching the news.’ I said: ‘We’re blessed for being in a country like Canada that is safe but it’s our job and our duty to give back to our community,'” she said.
‘Life is an opportunity for us to make the best of it’
“And I said: ‘We need to start the conversation and we need to start something and we need to lobby the government and we need to go after every single Lebanese person in Canada to start a movement.'”
Those calls led to the formation of the Lebanese Canadian Coalition that has pledged to raise $2.5 million for relief efforts in Beirut. It was up and running in three days.
Watch Rola Dagher talk to Dwight Drummond about the blast that rocked Beirut and the movement she has helped to start:
The massive explosion of nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate in Beirut’s port on Aug. 4 killed at least 171 people, injured about 6,000 others and caused widespread damage.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government has agreed to match all donations made by Canadians to specific humanitarian organizations between the dates of Aug. 4 and Aug. 24, up to a maximum of $5 million.
Now, Dagher says, the fundraising begins.
“If every Canadian donates a dollar, we can make a difference,” she says.
“We definitely need more support because what Lebanon is going through right now, it’s surreal. It’s going to take Lebanon a long time to rebuild.”
Dagher acknowledged to Drummond that she is making a name for herself as a business leader who has been outspoken on such subjects as immigration and mental health.
Last year, she was named one of the 2019 WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant winners 2019 and the 2019 Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) Woman of the Year.
“My father taught me something that I would never forget: ‘Life owes you nothing. Life is an opportunity for us to make the best of it.’ And I learned everything that I know. I earned it because I worked hard. And the only way I could be blessed is to return it,” she says.
In an interview with Canadian Immigrant magazine this year, Dagher was asked to share her main piece of advice for people new to Canada. She said: “Learn it, earn it and return it.”
Coronavirus deaths top 9,000 in Canada – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News
The novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 9,000 people in Canada since the virus was first confirmed in the country in late January.
The sobering milestone was reached on Aug. 12, after Quebec reported 12 more deaths attributed to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.
To date, there have been a total of 120,554 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,004 deaths across the country. Just over 107,000 people infected with the virus — or approximately 89 per cent of all cases — have recovered.
Based on data from the most recent seven days, an average of 443 new coronavirus cases have been reported daily across the country, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
“Presently, our efforts indicate that we are keeping COVID-19 spread under manageable control — but the virus is still circulating in Canada and we must not let down our guard,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Fortunately, the number of new deaths reported daily has remained low following a steep decline from the peak in early May when close to 200 deaths were reported daily. Fewer than 10 deaths have been reported per day on average over the last four weeks.”
Quebec continues to be the province with the largest caseload and highest death toll, reporting a total of 60,813 cases and 5,709 deaths to date. Eleven of the 12 new deaths recorded in that province occurred earlier in the year but were only reported Wednesday.
Ontario — Canada’s most populous province — follows, with a total of 40,289 reported cases and 2,787 deaths.
Health officials in Ontario said 95 new cases of the novel coronavirus were identified on Wednesday, and said one more death related to the virus had occurred.
The large majority of confirmed cases in both Ontario and Quebec have recovered, according to public health data.
Nunavut, meanwhile, continues to be the only province or territory without a single confirmed case of the virus.
Of the western provinces, Alberta has the largest outbreak, reporting a total of 11,772 cases and 216 deaths to date. British Columbia has reported 4,068 cases and 195 deaths so far.
In Saskatchewan five new cases of the virus were reported on Wednesday, bringing the province’s total to 1,484. So far 20 have died.
Manitoba saw new 16 new cases of the virus. Since the pandemic began the province has seen 578 infections and 8 deaths.
Group testing key to early coronavirus detection in Saskatchewan schools, biochemist says
The Yukon and the Northwest Territories have reported 15 and five cases, respectively; neither territory has reported a single death attributed to COVID-19.
To the east, there have been 1,071 cases and 64 deaths in Nova Scotia. New Brunswick has reported 178 cases and two fatalities.
Prince Edward Island has reported the lowest number of cases and deaths in Atlantic Canada with 36 cases and no fatalities. Newfound and Labrador has confirmed 268 COVID-19 cases and three deaths.
The novel coronavirus was first detected in China at the end of December 2019. The outbreak of the virus was declared a global pandemic a few months later, on Mar. 11, 2020.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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