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How not to claim employment expenses on your tax return

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A 2018 tax case involving a Toronto lighting technician (the “best boy,” in industry parlance) shows the steps to follow when claiming business expenses.Pal Pillai/AFP

If you’re an employee who pays for various work-related expenses that your boss doesn’t cover, you may be able to get some tax relief when you file your 2018 tax return by claiming a deduction for valid employment expenses.

Typical, deductible employment expenses can include: accounting, legal, advertising and promotion fees, allowable motor vehicle expenses, certain food, beverage, and entertainment expenses, out-of-town lodging expenses, parking, postage, stationery and other office supplies.

But before trying to claim any of these employment expenses on your return, be sure to get a copy of a properly completed and signed Form T2200, “Declaration of Conditions of Employment.” Your employer must complete this form for you to be able to deduct employment expenses from your income. While you don’t need to file this form with your return, you’re supposed to keep it in case the Canada Revenue Agency asks to see it. If you get audited by the CRA, the failure to have a completed, signed T2200 from your employer can lead to your employment expense deduction being denied, as was the case with a taxpayer who found himself before the Tax Court of Canada.

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