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Canada This man tested Canada's tax laws by moving in a canoe — and won

15:20  12 november  2019
15:20  12 november  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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While moving -by- canoe was once commonplace in Canada , Kruger said he didn't think Konecny was likely to put companies like his out of work. A teacher who relocated for work by loading his belongings into a canoe and paddling up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa has convinced Canada ' s tax

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A teacher who relocated for work by loading his belongings into a canoe and paddling up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa has convinced Canada's tax agency to cover his moving expenses.

John Konecny decided to test the limits of the Income Tax Act after a tax court judge disallowed his expense claims for his move from Whitby, Ont., to Ottawa in 2014.

For decades, Konecny had been moving annually between the two cities, teaching in southern Ontario during the regular academic school year and eastern Ontario during the summer.

Until five years ago, he'd also had his expenses covered. But when a lawyer suggested his attempts to seek reimbursement were "nearly treasonous," he vowed to fight.

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Taxation in Canada is a prerogative shared between the federal government and the various provincial and territorial legislatures. Under the Constitution Act, 1867, taxation powers are vested in the Parliament of Canada under s . 91(3)

Income taxes in Canada constitute the majority of the annual revenues of the Government of Canada , and of the governments of the Provinces of Canada .

"I was on Parliament Hill the day the Queen and Pierre Trudeau signed the Constitution ... I'm a proud, obedient, tax-paying citizen," the 54-year-old said.

"At that point, I have to admit, I think I snapped."

a man standing on a bridge: John Konecny poses with his canoe paddle at Hog's Back Falls in Ottawa. The 54-year-old teacher believes he's the first Canadian to have successfully claimed expenses for moving by canoe since 1972. © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation John Konecny poses with his canoe paddle at Hog's Back Falls in Ottawa. The 54-year-old teacher believes he's the first Canadian to have successfully claimed expenses for moving by canoe since 1972.

Was working vacation, judge said

As a young education graduate in the 1980s, Konecny had tried to get hired in his hometown by the Ottawa Carleton District School Board.

Although the Toronto District School Board first offered the new teacher full-time employment, Ottawa's public board came through later in the year with an offer to teach summer classes.

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Information for individuals who leave Canada to settle in another country and who are considered emigrants for income tax purposes. How to complete your tax return. Date of departure from Canada . Information about your spouse or common- law partner. What income do you have to report?

It recognized the religion freedom of Canada ' s largely Catholic population; the American colonists saw this as a British attempt to disregard the colonies' In an attempt to bring the Iroquois into the Seven Years' War and deal with other military affairs, this proposal, drafted by Benjamin Franklin, presented

Konecny said yes to both boards, keeping up the annual teaching cycle for three decades.

In 2014, however, the Canada Revenue Agency rejected his moving expenses of $1,400.

Konecny took it to tax court, where a judge scoffed at his claims, calling Konecny's annual travel to Ottawa not a "move" but merely a working vacation.

Not only did he lose the case, the fight over the $1,400 deduction had cost him $3,000 in court fees.

The loss stung.

"I guess my position with the government is, 'Don't allow me to do something repeatedly under the law and then tell me 20 years in that I'm not correct,'" he said.

'Could you move in a canoe?'

Though he had lost, the presiding judge did offer some guidance.

He told Konecny that each time he moved, he should update his driver's licence and banking information and take out magazine subscriptions — all to solidify the status of his residency.

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Information to help determine if you can claim moving expenses and which expenses you can claim. Note: Line 21900 was line 219 before tax year 2019. you moved to work or to run a business, or you moved to study courses as a full-time student enrolled in a post-secondary program at a university, a

If you want to come to Canada as a skilled immigrant (Express Entry). Your job, and the work you have done in the past, must be skill type 0, or level A or B to use Express Entry. The Express Entry system manages applications for permanent residence if you want be considered

Then, the justice challenged him.

"He was like, 'Mr. Konecny, could you move in a canoe?'" the teacher recalls.

Konecny replied he believed he could.

"Something in me said, 'Hey, he asked, [so] why don't I show him?'"

Something out of Monty Python

Konecny spent hours in law libraries, researching precedent-setting taxation decisions. In 2018, he set out to test the limits of the provisions in the Income Tax Act, planning a relocation-by-canoe that he called a "Monty-Python-esque farce."

After school on June 26, the teacher loaded food and clothes into a battered blue fibreglass canoe, along with a converted weed-wacker to use as propulsion.

He brought along a bicycle and a small trailer capable of towing his craft when waters became too rough, and he set out from the public docks in Whitby.

Konecny's move took him through five provincial parks, where he collected admission fee receipts, and up the Rideau Canal. He also kept receipts for three nights' worth of campfire wood, and several bags of ice to keep his food and his insulin cool.

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a small boat in a body of water: Konecny loaded up this fibreglass canoe with the belongings needed for his summer work in Ottawa and set out in 2018 from Whitby, Ont. © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Konecny loaded up this fibreglass canoe with the belongings needed for his summer work in Ottawa and set out in 2018 from Whitby, Ont.

'Slightly unusual'

"This fellow did something slightly unusual in the selection of the mode of transportation," said Vern Krishna, a University of Ottawa tax law professor who wasn't surprised to see CRA accept the expense claims.

"But in principle, he's doing the exact same thing as the person who's going across the country in an automobile. He's just doing it on the cheap."

In the end, Konecny submitted claims totalling just under $1,000.

That's about what a professional moving company would have charged for the minimum billable weight for that distance, said Larry Kruger of McWilliams Moving & Storage Ltd. in Peterborough, Ont.

While moving-by-canoe was once commonplace in Canada, Kruger said he didn't think Konecny was likely to put companies like his out of work.

"I've been in the business 37 years and I've never heard of it. It's hilarious!"

Francois Brouard, an accounting professor with the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, said the Income Tax Act doesn't specify what kinds of vehicles are acceptable for a move.

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Nor does it precisely say what kinds of expenses will be considered "reasonable.

"Sometimes there's a grey zone," said Brouard.

a person sitting at a desk looking at a book: Francois Brouard, an accounting professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, said there are 'grey zones' in the Income Tax Act. © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Francois Brouard, an accounting professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, said there are 'grey zones' in the Income Tax Act.

Planning his next move

Last week, Konecny learned Revenue Canada had accepted his expense claims.

His research suggests he may be the first person to have successfully claimed expenses for a move by canoe since the Income Tax Act underwent a major rewrite in 1972.

He's already trying to plan his next relocation.

"So my friends have suggested a really great move would be dog sled."

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