Lavigne v. R. – TCC: Taxpayer Commission Salesman Unsuccessful in Claiming Additional Expenses

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Lavigne v. The Queen[1] (October 10, 2013) involved a salesman paid through a combination of base salary and commissions.  He was one of the leading commission salesmen for Rogers until he left their employ in mid 2007.  At issue were expenses for motor vehicle, meals and entertainment, other expenses and parking in his 2006 and 2007 taxation years.  During the period he was employed with Rogers the central issue was that he filed forms T2200 which stated that Rogers had repaid all the expenses he had incurred:

[13]        Josée Riendeau, director of government sales at Rogers, testified for the respondent. In 2006, Ms. Riendeau did not have any contact with the appellant but in 2007 she became the head of three sales teams, including the appellant’s. She admits that she signed the T-2200 form for the appellant in 2007. In her opinion, the employees were responsible for completing these forms and giving them to her for her to sign. In the case of the T-2200 for the 2007 taxation year, the appellant claimed that he did not fill it in. However, Ms. Riendeau testified that she verified the information in the form before signing it and that she asked for additional information internally but, when faced with the tax return deadline, she signed it on May 9, 2008, with no modifications.

[14]        With regard to Rogers’ expense repayment policy, Ms. Riendeau stated that the work-related expenses did not necessarily have to be pre-approved to be repaid. In her opinion, expenses related to business development were usually repaid, because during 2006 and 2007, there were no budgetary restrictions in this regard. Only unjustified expenses were not repaid by Rogers. On the questionnaire about the appellant’s employment conditions for 2006 and 2007, which Ms. Riendeau completed and signed on May 21, 2009, it states that all the costs incurred by the appellant for vehicle use, travel (hotel, meals, plane tickets) and drink, meals and entertainment fees were repaid by Rogers

The court concluded that this evidence precluded the appellant from claiming the additional expenses at issue:

[25]        Since Josée Riendeau signed both the 2007 T-2200 form and the questionnaire on the appellant’s employment conditions, I rely on her testimony and her interpretation of the documents in question. During her testimony, Ms. Riendeau was very clear: the appellant was not required to incur expenses that had not been pre‑approved because these expenses were sometimes not reimbursed. In those cases, Rogers considered these expenses were unnecessary, unjustified or unreasonable.

[26]        In the circumstances, the appellant should not be permitted to deduct the meals and entertainment expenses from his employment income as claimed for the 2006 and 2007 taxation years.

Further the court concluded that the business percentage of motor vehicle costs allowed by CRA was reasonable:

[27]        The calculation of the business use percentage for the appellant’s vehicle, 67% for the 2006 taxation year and 44% for the 2007 taxation year, after the appellant’s arguments at the objection stage, seem reasonable to me in the circumstances, considering the appellant did not submit a record of his travels.

Finally, as regards expenses incurred in the period of 2007 after he left Rogers and was looking for new prospects, the appellant did not provide sufficient evidence to justify their deduction as business expenses:

[28]        The expenses incurred in 2007 after his employment was terminated with Rogers cannot be deducted in the calculation of his income for the 2007 taxation year because the appellant did not provide sufficient clarifications that these expenses were incurred for the purpose of starting a new business. The appellant did not provide any documentary evidence (business plan, offer to purchase, offer to finance or invoices) to show that his intention was to start a new business, namely to purchase a Rogers store.

[1] 2013 TCC 308.