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You want to claim what? Zany tax deductions, like haircuts and pot

No one enjoys paying taxes, and every year a few creative Canadians will try to push the boundaries and find a loophole. Not surprisingly, Canada Revenue Agency usually rejects these unusual deductions, but now and then, the courts will side with the taxpayer. Here are six Canadian examples of what worked and seven that didn't, provided by H&R Block Canada:

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

REJECTED: Haircuts

Even if your job requires you to be well-groomed and get a haircut every two weeks, the cost of the cut is not deductible against your employment income. (Rouillard v. The Queen [2000] 4 C.T.C. 2065)
Robert Byron/

ACCEPTED: Additional food needed by couriers

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled that additional food required by a foot and transit courier because of the extra energy he expended could be claimed as a business expense. (Scott v. The Queen, 98 D.T.C. 6530)

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

REJECTED: Seized marijuana

Marijuana that was seized by law-enforcement authorities can not be treated as a “loss of inventory” deductible against the taxpayer’s income from illegal drug trafficking. (Neeb v. The Queen 97 D.T.C. 895)
Jelena Aloskina/Getty Images/iStockphoto

ACCEPTED: Cat and dog food

While you can’t usually claim pet food, a farmer was allowed to claim cat and dog food because they were outdoor pets that were acquired to keep wildlife away from their blueberries. (Zeitz v. The Queen [2002] 4 C.T.C. 2292)


REJECTED: Trip to Las Vegas

Even if your doctor recommends trips to warmer climates will help treat a skin condition, the cost of trips to Las Vegas and Arizona cannot be claimed as a medical expense. (Goodwin v. The Queen [2001] 4 C.T.C. 2906)

ACCEPTED: Spousal amount for widows

If a widow remarries immediately after her husband dies, both the deceased husband and her new husband can claim a spousal amount for her. (CRA Views 2003-0050255)
Getty Images/iStockphoto

REJECTED: Gambling as a business

A lawyer turned professional gambler had more than $100,000 in losses disallowed as a business expense because he could not prove he had an actual business plan. (Cohen v. The Queen [2011] TCC 262)

ACCEPTED: Golf is not a taxable benefit if you hate it

A Canadian executive successfully argued that the golf membership paid by his company was not a taxable benefit because he hated playing golf. (Rachfalowski v. The Queen [2008] TCC 258)

Denis Balibouse/REUTERS

REJECTED: Ballet lessons

While the cost of your child’s ballet lessons does qualify for The Children’s Arts Credit, it can not be claimed as a child care expense. (Levine v. The Queen [1996] 2 C.T.C. 2147)

Yves Herman/Reuters

ACCEPTED: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

A stripper was allowed to keep nearly $2-million in gifts from a happy customer, despite the fact that the CRA tried to argue they were income. The Tax Court ruled that they were indeed gifts. (Landry v. The Queen [2009] TCC 399)


REJECTED: Lost footballs

The cost charged to a professional football player for balls he threw into the stands can not be claimed as an expense against his employment income. (Ellis v. The Queen [1998] 4 C.T.C. 2373)

Yvonne Berg/For the Globe and Mail

ACCEPTED: Gambling with no plan

The CRA tried to argue that two brothers in Quebec were operating a business by playing the Pro-line sports lottery regularly. A judge ruled that the brothers had no discernable plan or system for placing their bets and had won the money by luck so it was not considered income. (Leblanc v. The Queen [2006] TCC 680)

REJECTED: Income Tax Act incomprehensible

Arguing that the Income Tax Act is difficult to understand is not a valid defense when charged with failing to file income tax returns. (R. v. Meikle [2003] 4 C.T.C. 294)

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Editor's Note: This article has been updated to show that the court case about golf involved whether or not the membership was a taxable benefit, not an employment expense.

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