Poker pro set to help define poker tax laws in Canada
By Bob Garcia
Jonathan Duhamel is challenging the Canadian taxman’s money grab
Poker player Jonathan Duhamel is facing his toughest opponent yet in the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which is looking to win a huge pot from Duhamel. Duhamel won the World Series of Poker in 2010, banking $8.9 million, and has continued winning at poker. The CRA is betting they can collect taxes on all of Duhamel’s poker winnings, claiming he owes $1.2 million in back taxes.
Revenu Quebec would love to take on Duhmel also, and if CRA wins this hand, the pro might have to pay out $2 million in taxes to the two agencies. Winnings from poker are not taxable in Canada, but the CRA says Duhmel owes back taxes on his business as a profession poker player. The CRA claim that since he makes money as a professional poker player who travels the world to ply his business trade, and therefore should pay taxes on his wins. Tax Court of Canada will hear the case against Duhamel in March, in which the CRA will argue he operated a business from 2010 to 2012.
Revenu Quebec also claims that Duhmel was a “serious businessman” whose only occupation was playing poker online 40 to 50 hours a week and at tournaments and works with investors to minimize his risk of losses via swap agreements. The CRA says he paid $4.1 million to investors and took home $4.8 million of his $8.9 million WSOP winnings. Duhamel claims the WSOP winnings were due to chance, and that even though he is a professional poker player and receives money for encouraging other players to play, poker remains a game of chance, and therefore his winnings cannot be taxed. Time will tell if Duhamel’s strategy pays off and is as good at bluffing the CRA as he can be against opponents at the poker table.