Transcript from national morning television show, Canada AM on CTV
August 14, 1997
Leslie Jones' interview with Alan Wayne Scott
Jones: As a courier, my next guest has travelled an estimated200,00 kilometres by foot and bike. So he believes he should be able toclaim the extra food and drink required for his job as a tax deduction.
Revenue Canada disagrees, arguing it doesn't qualify as a business expenseand with his ongoing battle with the tax man, we are joined now by WayneScott.
Good morning Wayne
Scott: Hi Leslie.
Jones: This has been going on for a long time. Describe the battle.
Scott: Well, 15 years ago, I started as a courier on a bike inToronto and the first year I filed my income tax, after I started, I feltthat the extra food that I suddenly had started to need to get throughthe day, to sustain this body weight, should be look at as fuel.
It was over and above what the ordinary Canadian or even myself, whenI used to have desk jobs needed to get through the day. So I was payingextra money out to do a job and I felt that it should be an allowable employmentexpense.
Jones: Now you finally got to court, just recently and the judgesaid "No, can't allow it. Food and clothing is just a personal expensethat we all have to pay. It doesn't qualify."
Scott: Well I can deduct some of my clothing. My running shoesI deduct. But food they maintain, everybody needs it. I understand that,because we all do . Judge Christie overturned my appeal by citing a 1927precedent of some logging company out in B.C. So in seventy years the worldhas changed a bit but the government is still exactly entrenched in thesame spot.
Jones: But the tax law does say that if you derive a personalbenefit from something then you can't deduct it. And I guess food is apersonal benefit. It helps maintain your health.
Scott: The unfortunate thing is by taking that attitude, thegovernment is tacitly encouraging the use of automobiles in urban centresto do this delivery work.
Scott: Well, if I was doing this job in a car and I had donemy 127,000 miles of deliveries in a car. I would have been able to writeoff my oil, the depreciation on the vehicle and my gas to the extent thatif I had an air conditioner in the car, I'd be writing that off. Or, ifI had a mule and I was taking the mule around behind me. And I had thepackages on the mule. I could feed the mule but I can't feed myself, todo this extra amount of work.
Jones: Now everybody is intrigued by the case but they don'tthink that there is much to it except you do have the support of threecity councillors who are saying what?
Scott: Well basically they understand the benefit that the 500people that are out there either on bikes and on foot give to this city.It is estimated that over a million, two (1.2 million) deliveries are donea year on bikes and then there's have as many again done on foot. Now ifyou tried to do that in this city with cars you'd need about 2500 carsthey estimate. And that would be 2500 more cars in the core, all day long,running. The traffic congestion, the noise pollution and certainly theemissions damage would be astronomical compare to what we have got.
Jones: And somebody has pointed out, businessmen get to deducttheir lunches as a tax deduction and that's a personal benefit.
Scott: Well they've made all sorts of rules to benefit peoplewithin this sort of paper world, the people whose jobs and lives are reallydefined by this society. Couriers are on the outside. We are the. We arethe economic bottom feeders. But we are an intrinsic part of business asusual in Toronto and therefore in this country.
Jones: Wayne, I understand a new lawyer has contacted you andsaid there might be something he can do.
Scott: There might be a way to appeal thins thing. A couple oflawyers have. I'm going to take the best offer. They've all said pro bonothat they'll do this thing. Failing that what we'll do is we'll launcha class action suit for every courier without an internally combustibleengine right across the country. And we'll see how they can deal with that.
Jones: Wayne, thanks for coming in this morning.
Scott: You're very welcome. Thanks for your interest. That'swhat is going to drive this thing is the media and public awareness ofthis thing.
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