About four out of 10 B.C. residents don’t know the new rules for claiming work-from-home expenses, a new poll reveals

“What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector?” Mark Twain wrote. “The taxidermist takes only your skin.”

British Columbians can relate, especially after the strange year we’ve had. Thanks to COVID-19, more than a third of us think this tax season is among the most stressful ever.

That’s one of the takeaways from a new national survey for TurboTax Canada. The online poll of some 3,000 people, conducted by research firm Maru/Blu, took place from March 5-12. 

Roughly one out of five respondents who received the now-closed Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) last year didn’t know it was taxable when they got their first payment, so they might now owe the Canada Revenue Agency. Also, two in five didn’t know how much tax is due on their CERB payments.

Many B.C. poll participants were in the dark about COVID-related deductions, with 43 percent unaware of the temporary flat-rate method for calculating work-from-home expenses or how claim it in their tax return. Just 30 percent of British Columbians had full knowledge of the new simplified method and how it works.

On a brighter note, 84 percent of B.C. respondents said that complications from the pandemic made them less inclined than in previous years to leave their taxes until the last minute. Almost three-quarters agreed that more than ever, it was crucial to get a jump on tax preparation to avoid anguish as the deadline approaches.

Given the uncertain situation, about half of British Columbians agreed that having an expert do their taxes this year is the best choice, and 63 percent said they felt more confident about getting the best possible outcome if an expert took charge.

One somewhat surprising finding: nearly three out of five B.C. respondents believed back taxes are due when they submit their return, not by the April 30 deadline. Folks, let’s not make things any worse than they already are.