business owners. This is not what the CRA will tell you but the fact remains – employees are very limited in what they can write-off while businesses are entitled to a wide variety of legally deductible business expenses. (Next logical step would be to stop levying taxes on successful entrepreneurs as I cannot think of one government service worth paying for – which could not be better provided by the private sector…but hey, we are not building the moral case against taxation here…)

So it might seem pretty simple and straightforward: one should open a small business and join the ranks of 2.6 million Canadian entrepreneurs who enjoy the favorable tax treatment of their income streams. You don’t need to be a big guy – if you operate a legitimate home-based business with the intent to produce a profit,
you can qualify for most of the same deductions as an “office-based” business.

Before we show you what your first steps should be after deciding to run a business, we want to issue a little warning: No one should ever start a home-based business for the purpose of getting new tax deductions. It won’t work. Tax deductions are the result of having a home-based business, not the reason for it. The Big Brother (Canada Revenue Agency in this case) is watching you…

So what is a business? Surprisingly, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the courts and taxpayers have been arguing a lot about what would seem to be a pretty straightforward question. The reason is simple: CRA does not want to allow a taxpayer to deduct losses year after year in a questionable enterprise. The tax department invented a concept of a “reasonable expectation of profit” (REOP). In the past, if the business could not demonstrate that it could become profitable, CRA would deny the losses. As a result of the 2002 Supreme Court of Canada decision, CRA now only considers the REOP concept if there is a personal element (or hobby) with respect to your business. Otherwise CRA will generally no longer question whether or not you actually run a business. If, however, there is a personal or hobby element in your business, then it must be determined if your enterprise is carried on in a sufficiently commercial manner as to indicate that there would be a source of income – and therefore a business. In this case the CRA would apply the REOP test.

Let’s now review the general factors considered by CRA in assessing REOP as outlined in CRA’s Interpretation Bulletin IT504:

Ï Business owner’s qualifications to run a success

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