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online trading income

If you actively participate in online trading and closely monitor the market, you are part of a growing community of Canadians who are taking charge of their investments. Engaging in online trading can be a lucrative method to build and diversify your investment portfolio, potentially resulting in additional income. However, you may be uncertain about whether you should report your trading activities as business income or as capital gains or losses.


Understanding how to classify your activities for tax purposes.

Determining how to classify your online trading activities for tax purposes is an important consideration for individuals engaged in the Canadian market. It’s crucial to distinguish whether your transactions should be reported as capital gains or losses, or as business income. Here are some guidelines to help you make that determination.

online trading income

Classifying Your Online Trading Activities: Capital Gains or Business Income?

  1. Assess your trading pattern:
    • Take note of the frequency of your transactions.
    • Consider the duration of your holdings (how long you typically hold stocks before selling them).
    • Evaluate your knowledge and experience in the stock market.
    • Determine the amount of time you dedicate to your trading activities.
  2. Analyze the type of securities you trade:

    • If your focus is primarily on blue-chip stocks, which are known for their stability and ability to perform well even in challenging economic conditions, it suggests an investment-oriented approach.
    • Conversely, if you mainly invest in penny stocks, which are riskier and offer less profit guarantees, it indicates a potential business income scenario.
  3. Understand the significance of collective factors:
    • Individual factors alone may not dictate the classification of your trading income.
    • A high volume of trades, for instance, doesn’t automatically imply a business if your primary goal is to build a long-term investment portfolio.
    • Conversely, a single transaction aimed at quick profit might be classified as business income.
    • The key lies in assessing the collective pattern of activity, which consistently aligns with either an investment or business intention.

By carefully considering these factors, you can determine how to report your online trading income accurately, whether it falls under capital gains or business income. Remember, seeking guidance from a tax professional or consulting the relevant tax authority can provide further clarity based on your specific circumstances.


Understanding the tax implications of reporting your trading income as capital gains or business income.

What’s the difference? When it comes to taxes, here’s what you need to know about reporting your transactions as capital gains or business income:

  1. Capital gains:
    • Only 50% of your reported capital gains are taxable.
    • Capital losses can be offset against capital gains to reduce the taxable amount.
    • These gains are not fully taxable.
  2. Business income:
    • Profits reported as business income are fully taxable.
    • Business losses can be deducted against other sources of income.
    • Business profits are subject to CPP/QPP contributions, potentially impacting your pensionable income. This means you might need to make CPP contributions at the self-employed rate of 10.5% and QPP contributions at the self-employed rate of 10.8% (for residents of Québec).
online trading income
Can I ensure my trading income is treated as capital gains?

You have the option to guarantee that the sale or transfer of your stocks is treated as capital gains (or losses). To do this, you’ll need to include the Election on disposition of Canadian securities (T123) form when filing your return in the same year as the sale or transfer.

Please note that this election only applies to Canadian securities and cannot be made for stocks from the United States. It’s important to consider that this election is permanent, meaning all your Canadian securities, including mutual funds, bonds, and mortgages, will be treated as capital gains or losses going forward. Consulting with a Tax Expert at an H&R Block office can help determine if this election is suitable for your situation.

What else should I consider before making a decision?

When reviewing your trades, it’s important to know that the CRA and Revenu Québec generally classify gains or losses on short sales (selling an investment without expecting its value to decline) as business income unless the transaction is aimed at improving the value of identical shares held as a long-term investment.

Additionally, the government may audit Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) suspected of being used for trading transactions. If it’s determined that the account generates business income, the financial institution holding the account will be subject to tax assessment. However, Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) are not affected by this issue since any income generated within an RRSP is taxed upon withdrawal, regardless of its nature as business or investment income.