Ironside v. R. – TCC: Costs Spend Defending Alta. Sec. Comm. Charges Not Deductible – No Professional Source of Income

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Ironside v. The Queen[1] (October 25, 2013) involved the deduction of legal and other professional fees incurred in defending proceedings brought against the taxpayer by the Alberta Securities Commission (“ASC”).  The taxpayer was unsuccessful before the ASC and in an appeal to the Alberta Court of Appeal.

The taxpayer commenced his career as a chartered accountant but then moved into the resource sector where his main sources of income were from employment as a corporate officer and from dividends.  He claimed that the fees in question were deductible against his professional income as an accountant:

[20]        The Appellant wants to deduct the Fees as business expenses from his professional income because he argued that he paid them to maintain his designation and reputation and, therefore, his ability to gain or produce income from that source.

The court rejected his claim:

[58]        In summary, until the Commission commenced its proceedings against the Appellant, his main sources of income were derived from employment and dividend sources within the oil and gas industry. During this same period, his revenues from professional income were negligible. The Commission proceedings garnered adverse publicity which, in turn, severely affected the Appellant’s reputation and resulted in the near elimination of both his employment and dividend income sources. The Fees were expended in an attempt by the Appellant to avoid personal financial failure in this respect, regardless of the existence of his professional activities as an accountant. When he was unsuccessful in defending the Commission’s allegations against him, he turned to his professional accounting activities for income and, for the first time in many years of the Appellant’s work history, those activities became profitable. This bars the Appellant from successfully claiming that the Fees he incurred were to produce such professional income. The Appellant has failed to establish, and the facts do not support, the requisite connection or nexus between those expenses and his ability to keep his designation as an accountant and to produce future income from that designation. Rather, the evidence before me supports the lack of connection between the expenses and the professional source. Therefore, the Fees, which are at issue, are personal in nature and cannot be deducted in the computation of the Appellant’s income.

[1] 2013 TCC 339.