29 How are the following common employment deductions calculated and treated for tax purposes: legal expenses, sales expenses, automobile expenses, meals and entertainment and dues?

Employees don’t tend to have access to as many deductions as individuals that are self-employed.  That said, there are some expenses that may be deductible to employees.   The Income Tax act section 8 covers the common deductions that employees can have on their employment income.

Legal Expenses:

  • Under section 8(1)(b) in the Income Tax Act, legal expenses are amounts paid by a taxpayer regarding legal inquires.
  • The amounts paid are to be collected or established if incurred by the taxpayer and should be included in the Taxpayer’s income if received.

Sales Expenses:

  • Under section 8(1)(f) in the Income Tax Act, sales expenses are limited to commission-based income.
  • A taxpayer can deduct sales expenses if their income comes from commission of selling goods or negotiating a service if these expenses are for the purpose of earning their commission.

Automotive Travel Expenses:

  • Under section 8(1)(h.1) in the Income Tax Act, motor vehicle expenses can be deducted when a taxpayer is required to carry out their duty of their employment away from the office and the contract of their employment states that they are required to pay for motor vehicle expenses that are incurred.


  • Under section 8(4) in the Income Tax Act, meals expenses cannot be deducted by an individual unless a meal was eaten while away from the office and the individual was required by the duties of the job to be away at that time and that time has to be for a period not less than twelve hours.


  • According to the CRA, entertainment expenses that are incurred in the process of generating income to a business can be deducted up to 50% in an allowable event and they are in a reasonable circumstance.


  • Under section 8(1)(I) in the Income Tax Act and according to the CRA, dues expenses that can be deducted are: professional or malpractice insurance, professional board dues and annual dues for memberships that are in a trade union.

Interactive content (Author: Hanwen Fu, January 2020)

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Introductory Canadian Tax by Sam Newton and Wahaj Awan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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