Before I start talking about tax stuff, I’d like to get some minor self-promotion out of the way:
This week, for those of you who live in and around Montreal (or want to come visit!), you have the unique opportunity to see me on-stage in circa-1900 overalls walking an imaginary horse! That’s right….I’ll be making my theatre debut in Our Town, a presentation of the Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society, the city’s local theatre group. The show will be running this week only (from Tuesday January 24th until Sunday January 29th) so get your tickets quick! I’m in a very minor role, that of the local milkman Howie Newsome, since the powers-that-be have entrusted the show to people who actually know what they’re doing (including my wife Jordana who plays one of the town gossips in the play!).
That being said, it’s been quite the experience seeing the production of a show from an inside vantage point not to mention the tremendous support I’ve gotten from my fellow cast members (not the Trump version of tremendous but actually TREMENDOUS). It’s given me a new appreciation of theatre and of the time and effort that goes into producing a show. If you’re reading this, please come support us (or at least tell a friend about the show!) and I’ll vow to write funnier and more informative blog posts in the future. And, I guarantee you will be entertained by Our Town….if not by me delivering my milk and walking my pretend horse Bessie out onto the stage, then by the amazing performances of my fellow cast members (if you don’t shed a tear by the end, you’re probably Vulcan.).
Selfless promotion over! Let’s talk tax…and, in a way, this relates to the theatre chat above. I’m asked a lot about what people can “write-off” during tax time. After that question, I always quote that famous Seinfeld episode where Kramer “doesn’t even know what a write-off is!”. The thing is, most people don’t know what a “write-off” is…but that’s ok because for most, write-offs don’t have any effect on their personal taxes.
Write-offs are just deductions from your income, things that you can subtract from your taxable earnings in order to pay less tax. For example, a professional actor (which I most certainly am not!), can “write-off” the costs that he incurs to help him earn income. That would include his wardrobe costs, makeup, fees paid to his agent, transportation to auditions, etc. The same goes for any self-employed person who has to pay his or her own expenses in order to earn a living.
However, if you’re a salaried employee, chances are you don’t have to pay for any of the costs that allow you to do your work every day, such as your computer or your office expenses. Rule of thumb – If you don’t have to pay for them, you don’t get to write them off (as the saying goes). But (there’s always a “but”), if you’re a salaried employee who DOES have to pay for some expenses out-of-pocket, there are exceptions to be made. For example, if you’re a salesperson who is required to have use of your own car and you don’t get reimbursed for gas, you should ask your employer for something called a “Declaration of Conditions of Employment Form”. This form will allow you to claim these employment expenses as deductions (AKA write-offs!), lowering your taxable income and your taxes. Don’t get too excited though…the money you spend to get yourself to work, whether by car, bus, uber or rickshaw, is not an employment expense. Also, don’t get angry with your employer if they don’t give issue you a form since these things are looked at very closely by our friendly neighbourhood government auditors. However, if you’re a real-life version of Howie Newsome from Our Town, feel free to write-off those horseshoes and milk buckets!
The Funny Accountant/Actor(?)
If you like what you read, please like my Facebook page and/or follow me on Twitter! And, as always, if you have tax questions, need advice on your personal taxes, corporate taxes or anything else accounting or business related, please contact me (Mitch Kujavsky), AKA The Funny Accountant, either by phone at (514) 833-1158 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, for a witty and insightful read, check out the wifey’s blog. It’s funny and good.1