Canadians in the sharing economy are running out of excuses not to pay taxes
Canadians who rely on the likes of Airbnb and Uber to bring in a few extra thousand dollars every year sometimes have ideas about whether that money should be taxed.
Some people seem genuinely unaware that they should report earnings from their side-hustles. Others, however, have come up with convenient theories about how, for example, income earned from home-sharing doesn’t really count as income if it merely helps to pay off the mortgage. Another refrain you’re likely to hear on online chat rooms is that hiding a few thousand dollars from the CRA is no big crime when others shuffle millions to offshore tax havens.
But the sharing economy is emerging from the tax limbo it has inhabited for several years – and Canadians participating in it are running out of excuses to not include that income in their tax returns.
Airbnb, for example, will email all of its Canadians hosts, who number more than 55,000, this Wednesday to remind them to file taxes. the company told Global News in an exclusive interview.
With the message, each host will receive a summary of their annual Airbnb earnings and links to web pages with detailed tax compliance information.
The campaign follows Airbnb’s similar pilot project last year in Ontario, where the company reminded local hosts of their filing obligations ahead of tax season.
Airbnb is also partnering with tax preparer H&R Block to help Canadians get their taxes right. Hosts who file their taxes by May 15 will have access to a 15 per cent discount on in-office services at H&R Block and 20 per cent discount on H&R Block tax software, the company said.
Uber, meanwhile, has teamed up with accounting software firm Intuit Canada to provide a 20 per cent discount to drivers who file through TurboTax.
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With Intuit’s help, the ride-sharing company has also set up a detailed online tax guide, which includes anything from tips about including and calculating common vehicle-related expenses, to guidance specific to new Canadians and even advice about setting up a personal online account with the CRA. There’s also a section devoted to Quebec drivers, who have to report GST and QST sales tax numbers.
The company told Global News it emailed a link to the page to all Canadian drivers.
The moves follow a concerted effort by the CRA to crack down on tax avoidance in the sharing economy. The agency has even created a whole page dedicated to taxes and home-sharing, following Airbnb’s outreach effort in Ontario.
Airbnb hosts, 80 per cent of whom earn income by sharing their primary residence, made an average of $4,300 in 2016, the company told Global News.
READ MORE: The Smart Money Tax Week series
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