Wallens v. R. – TCC: Court rejects taxpayer’s motor vehicle, accounting and home office expenses claims (in excess of what was allowed by the Crown)


Wallens v. The Queen (September 17, 2019 – 2019 TCC 193, Bocock J.).

Précis:   The taxpayer, an employee who sold advertising, claimed substantial motor vehicle and home office expenses ($5,427 and $6,207, respectively) as well as accounting fees of $734.  CRA disallowed the accounting fees and reduced the motor vehicle and home office expenses to $2,895.  At trial the Crown increased the allowable motor vehicle and home office expenses to $664 and $4,874, respectively.  The Tax Court denied the accounting fees and declined to award any additional motor vehicle or home office expense beyond those conceded by the Crown.  This was an informal procedure appeal and there were no costs awarded.

Decision:    The Court disallowed the accounting fees, holding that paragraph 8(1)(b) of the Income Tax Act does not permit the deductibility of accounting fees as employment expenses.  The Court rejected the motor vehicle expenses based largely on the fact that the taxpayer’s claim for mileage exceeded the automobile’s mileage log kept by her mechanics.  In summary the Court found that the Crown’s concession on motor vehicle and home office expenses was ample:

[8]  For this information, the Court turned to the objective third party evidence: the record of the mileage of the motor vehicle when undergoing service. These invoices consistently logged the mileage of the car. There were some 6 invoices recording various repairs and maintenance throughout the year. The records measured incrementally an increase in mileage from 64,141 km to 74,452 km. Ten thousand kilometres a year is hardly extraordinary. However, this total was neither the mileage Ms. Wallens asserted she drove the car nor what her driving log recorded she drove.

[9]  Her tax returns revealed a stark contrast to the mileage logged by her garage. She claimed to have driven only 1,353 kilometres in total, 1,015 of which was recorded for employment purposes. As was also suggested by the Court to Mr. Sider before argument, the Minister’s concession of 10% for  employment use was very much in keeping with the assertions of Ms. Wallens total and employment mileage log and reported use in her tax return. However, Ms. Wallens claimed 90 % employment use based on her log.  However, her own log disclosed only 10 % of the total mileage recorded by the third-party repair shops reflected in Ms. Wallens’ own receipts. Nine-tenths of the total mileage was missing from all her calculations. Mr. Sider’s explained this as an error by the garage given his experience as an accountant for other clients. The fact remains that the garage odometer readings were consistent, graduated and normalized throughout the year. It is Ms. Wallens’ assertion and claim that is the outlier. The Court maintains that 10% of the actual mileage as a measure of employment expenses is reasonable based upon Ms. Wallens’ own documents. As such, the Minister’s ultimately allowed employment expenses for motor vehicle of $664, itself being approximately 10% of the actual expenses, is accurate more likely accurate than any other.

Home Office Expenses

[10]  Similarly, Ms. Wallens’ submitted documents and arguments belie the employment percentage she claimed for home office expenses. The floor plan dimensions indicate that Ms. Wallens employment use space engaged 10% of the premises. Even then, through Mr. Sider’s testimony, it was primarily the bedroom that was utilized as a home office. Since there was only one bedroom in the unit, the room was also used a goodly portion of the time for personal use. The apartment itself was 1475 square feet. The bedroom measured 140 square feet. Mr. Sider also testified he had estimated the work-space and the total area based on his usual rule of thumb. This is likely the root of the error. Ms. Wallens claimed 25% of the property expenses as work-space in the home employment expenses, or $7,157. Ten percent would yield a deduction of $2,863 as work-space in he home expenses. The Minister allowed $4,875, much closer to 20%. Any percentage beyond that is simply not supportable based upon the evidence. Ms. Wallens should consider herself fortunate.

This was an informal procedure appeal and there were no costs awarded.


[It should be noted that the taxpayer did not appear or testify at trial and that the evidence was presented by her accountant:

[2]  Ms. Wallens no longer lives in Canada. Ms. Wallens authorized her accountant, Mr. Nicolas Sider, to appear on her behalf and provide testimony and submissions. While somewhat unorthodox, it is recognized that Mr. Sider was the accountant who prepared the tax return and had provided Ms. Wallens with guidance regarding the deductions.]