Canadians are increasingly taking on jobs in the gig economy as the rising cost of living puts pressure on their finances, but many of them are tempted to not declare all the extra income they’re earning, according to a new survey by H&R Block Canada Inc.
The tax preparer found that 28 per cent of the 1,501 adults surveyed have taken jobs in the gig economy to boost their income, up from 13 per cent in 2022. In the past 12 months alone, 20 per cent have taken on a gig job.
But 49 per cent of those who currently have a side hustle indicated they would be willing to risk not declaring all their related income, and a further 44 per cent said they would be willing to risk not declaring any of it.
“The survey indicates that many Canadians feel tempted to avoid declaring all their income from a side gig, and many lack an understanding of the tax implications,” Yannick Lemay, learning program lead and tax specialist at H&R Block Canada, said in a press release.
“While it’s easy to think that smaller amounts may go unnoticed, by not declaring all income to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Canadians face the risk of not just having to pony up for the full amount of taxes owing if they’re audited, but they’ll also be charged interest and could face substantial penalties if it’s discovered.”
Part of the problem is that 23 per cent of gig workers don’t have a clear understanding of the tax implications of having a side hustle.
“The good news is there are literally hundreds of potential deductions and expenses that can be claimed; many of which put money back into your pocket,” Lemay said.
“The gig workforce is incredibly diverse, so navigating tax-related benefits can be complex. What’s important is having a full understanding of your specific tax situation, so you don’t inadvertently leave money on the table when filing your taxes.”
He added, however, that if people don’t claim all their income, any penalties levied by the CRA may include returning many of those tax deductions, credits and benefits.
Overall, 85 per cent of Canadians are concerned that their income is not keeping up with the increased cost of living, so it makes sense that 63 per cent of gig workers said they took on a side hustle because of those rising costs and inflation this year, and a further 15 per cent are considering taking on a side hustle in the future.
However, their level of disclosure to their primary employer is almost evenly split between those whose employers are not aware of their side hustle (51 per cent) and those who have made their employer aware (49 per cent).