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tax matters

Most companies conduct employee satisfaction surveys.

The problem is that many of these surveys don't get at the heart of real job satisfaction. Recognizing this, the creator of the Dilbert comic, Scott Adams, decided to conduct his own survey several years ago.

He simply asked the question: If you had a chance to hit your boss in the back of the head with one of the following objects, with no risk of getting caught, which would you choose?

The winning response? A large bean burrito (19 per cent of respondents gave this answer). Other notable responses included a Nerf ball (17 per cent), a ripe melon (14 per cent), and all your co-workers bound by duct tape and flung from a huge catapult (8 per cent).

When it comes to employee satisfaction, things are only made worse by the lack of tax deductions for employees.

Still, there are tax savings to enjoy. Consider these deductions and credits if you're an employee.

Vehicle costs

If you've been using your vehicle for work, you may be able to deduct related costs if (1) you're ordinarily required to work away from your employer's place of business, (2) you're required to pay your own vehicle costs, (3) you didn't receive a tax-free allowance for use of your vehicle, and (4) your employer signs Form T2200 (Form TP-64.3-V in Quebec; keep it handy in case the taxman wants to see it later).

By the way, if you received an allowance but it wasn't sufficient to offset all your vehicle expenses, you have the option of including the allowance in your income and deducting your actual expenses – which could leave you better off.

Home office costs

You can claim costs of a home office as an employee or commissioned sales person if that office is your principal place of work (more than half your working time is spent there), or it's designated solely for your work and is used on a regular and continuous basis for meeting customers or clients. Your employer will also have to sign Form T2200 (Form TP-64.3-V in Quebec) verifying that you're required to have that office. Employees will generally be restricted to claiming a portion of any rent, utilities, repairs, maintenance and supplies associated with the office space. Commissioned sales people can add a portion of property taxes and home insurance. Note that mortgage interest is not deductible.

Moving expenses

You may be able to claim moving expenses if you moved in 2013 to start a new job or a new business, or to attend university or college on a full-time basis. To qualify, you had to move at least 40 kilometres closer to your new place of work or school. There are many costs than can be claimed – take a look at Form T1-M and its instructions (available at for a list.

Legal fees

If you paid legal fees to collect or establish a right to salary, wages, pension benefits or a retiring allowance (including damages or settlements for wrongful dismissal) that are owing to you, those fees may be deductible.

Reduced withholdings

If, after preparing your tax return, you discover you're getting a refund and expect the same to happen next year, consider applying for a reduction in the taxes withheld from your pay for the balance of 2014. Use federal form T1213 (form TP-1016-V in Quebec) to make this application.

Assistant salary

If your employer requires you to hire and pay for your own assistant, you'll be entitled to deduct reasonable compensation paid to that person. Here's a planning tip: You can hire a family member for this role, which will allow you to split income with a lower-income family member.

Various other costs

Don't forget to claim the following if you're eligible: the public transportation credit, the cost of supplies related to your work (including stationery, stamps, toner, ink cartridges, long-distance calls, mobile phone airtime), annual union or professional dues, child care costs, registered plan contributions (pensions, RRSPs, or deferred profit sharing plans), the cost of a tradesperson's tools, the Canada employment amount (a tax credit introduced in 2006), almost any costs incurred in earning commission income (up to the amount of that income), attendant care costs, exam costs for professional or tradesperson accreditation, and meals in certain situations.

Non-taxable benefits

Make sure you don't report the value of non-taxable benefits you might have received, and that the value of these things do not show up on your T4 slip. See my article dated Dec. 7, 2011, at