Are you a service-based sole proprietor or non-incorporated business owner who earns business income? Then you'll need to know Form T2125.
Whether you’ve been in business for 6 months or 25 years, there’s one tax form that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will be expecting from you this year and every year you’re in business: Form T2125, Statement of Business or Professional Activities.
All service-based sole proprietors, non-incorporated business owners, and even unincorporated, limited liability, or general partnerships (with fewer than five members) use this document to report their business and professional income and expenses.
The T2125 form is part of the T1 income tax package that all individuals use to file their personal income tax returns in Canada.
If you’re concerned about how to fill out the T2125 form properly, you’re not alone. Many business owners with tax anxiety are. Not to worry—below you’ll find all the answers to your burning questions about this common tax form. We’ve even provided a primer on how to fill one out at the end.
Do I Have to Fill Out a T2125?
If you’re a service-based sole proprietor, non-incorporated business owner, or part of a partnership with fewer than five members, you need to report your personal income via the T2125 form.
If you have any business and professional income at all—even if it’s an unregistered side hustle for fun—you still have to fill out Form T2125 when you complete your T1 Canadian tax return.
However, there are some exceptions on how to report your income depending on your business structure or industry. Instead, file using the following forms:
- T2 if you’re an incorporated business
- T5013 if you’re in a partnership with more than 5 members
- T2121 if you earned your business income through fishing
- T2042 if you earned your business income through farming
What’s the Difference Between Professional Income and Business Income?
H&R Block explains the difference between the two: “Business income is income from any activity you do for a profit and includes sales, commissions, or fees. For example, income earned as a plumber is considered business income.
“Professional income is the same except that your income is from a profession that has a governing body. For example, professions like lawyers, professional engineers, doctors, and other health professionals are all governed by regulatory bodies.”
In both cases, sole proprietors and non-incorporated business owners will report their income and expenses using Form T2125.
What Form Do I Use for Business Taxes?
You guessed it: The T2125 form. If you earn an income from running a service-based business, you will report your income and expenses on this tax document that’s a standard part of the T1 tax package for all Canadians.
And if you have more than one business, you’ll need to fill out a separate T2125 form for each one.
I’m Self-employed. Is Form T2125 the Only Way I Report My Income?
Not necessarily. Although Form T2125 is an important part of reporting your business and professional income and expenses, it may not be the only way you report to the CRA.
If you’re self-employed, a business client may provide a T4A form that reports the income they paid you in the previous year. You’ll use the information they provide in these forms to fill out your business income on Form T2125.
However, it’s important not to rely on your clients to keep a record of what they’ve paid you. Some clients will not send you a T4A, particularly if they are a consumer and not a business. It’s your responsibility to keep accurate records of your business income in the previous year and enter it on Form T2125.
I Work Under Contract for a Client. Am I an Employee or a Sole Proprietor?
This is a tricky question. How the CRA classifies you all depends on how, where, and when you work.
You Are Considered an Employee If…
Your employer sets the hours you work, controls the pace of your work, sets your salary, supervises you, and assesses the quality of your work. In this case, the work you do under this contract would be considered employment. You should get a T4 for this job and not include any of this income on a T2125.
You Are Considered a Sole Proprietor If…
You decide and control where you work, how long/often you work, and how you conduct your duties. You supply your own equipment and tools and manage the cost of renting or purchasing any of them.
As part of this contract work, you could make a profit or incur a loss and are expected to cover your own operating costs. You also incorporate the duties of this work into your other business or professional activities. If this sounds like your contract terms, you are most definitely a sole proprietor and will need to report income from it on a T2125.
Do I Need to Fill Out Form T2125 for Income Earned Outside of Canada?
Yes. If you have American or other international clients, you may be required to fill out tax documents like Form W-8BEN, which ensures you aren’t taxed twice in the U.S.
When it comes to reporting your business income to the CRA here at home, you still need to include anything you earned through services or sales from international clients on Form T2125.
Got paid in bitcoin instead? Cryptocurrency counts too and you’ve got to report that business income on Form T2125.
What If I Bartered Some of My Services? Do I Need to Include That Income on Form T2125?
Yes. It’s not unusual for some professionals to provide their services in exchange for products or services from their clients. Think of an IT specialist who manages the website of a fitness studio in exchange for a monthly membership, or a plumber who gets a manicure/pedicure for taking care of the leak in a spa’s bathroom.
Even though no money exchanged hands, you still have to report the value of the services you provided as income. For example, if the cost of managing the fitness studio’s website is $1,000/year, that’s what you would include as income on Form T2125.
Do I Include My Business Expenses on Form T2125?
Yes. The purpose of the form is to help you calculate your net business income (i.e., what’s left after you’ve subtracted your business expenses from the money you’ve earned).
Form T2125 will prompt you to enter your income and expenses. Just be prepared with information about both.
How Do I Fill Out Form T2125?
Form T2125 is a 7-page document broken up into 9 sections that can be found on the CRA’s website or provided by any tax professional. Tax filing software will also have the form and guide you through filling it out.
Below is a step-by-step explanation of each section. Note that not all sections will apply to every sole proprietor, so you may choose to leave some blank.
Part 1: Identification
Here’s where you enter your basic information, including:
- Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Business name, address, and business number (which is often the same as your GST/HST number)
- Identifying information about your business such as your main product or service (e.g., graphic design, plumbing, etc.) and industry code
Part 2: Internet Business Activities
You only need to fill out this section if you have a website that generates income. You’ll simply enter the applicable URL(s) and the percentage of gross income generated from the web pages and websites.
Part 3: Income Types
This section is split into four parts:
- 3A, Business Income: Fill in this part only if you have business (not professional) income. You’ll also enter how much GST/HST you collected.
- 3B, Professional Income: Fill in this part only if you have professional income. If you just have business income, leave this part blank and fill in 3A. You’ll also enter how much GST/HST you collected.
- 3C, Gross Business or Professional Income: Use the adjusted gross totals you calculated in 3A or 3B, plus include any reserves deducted in the previous year and any other income.
- 3D, Cost of Goods Sold and Gross Profit: Here’s where you enter your business income and subtract expenses like inventory, wages, subcontracts, and other costs directly related to selling your goods or services (a.k.a. costs of goods sold).
Part 4: Net Income (Loss) Before Adjustments
This is where you report all of the expenses you incurred while running your business in the previous year, by category. One important section is the capital cost allowance, which includes buildings, furniture, and equipment you use in your business or professional activities that depreciate over time. Form T2125 will help you keep track of your capital cost allowance year over year.
Part 5: Your Net Income (Loss)
Use this section to calculate your final net income or loss for the year, including business-use-of-home expenses. There’s also a section about partnership income, which you don’t need to answer if you’re a sole proprietor.
Part 6: Other Amounts Deductible From Your Share of the Net Partnership Income (Loss)
Do you have other business expenses that didn’t fit into the categories of Part 4 or Part 5? Here’s where you enter them.
Part 7: Calculating Business-Use-of-Home Expenses
Use this section to enter and calculate how much of your home expenses your business uses, such as heat, electricity, insurance, or maintenance, etc. These can be deducted from your business income.
Part 8: Details of Other Partners
If you’re in a partnership, this is where you enter personal and contact information for your other partners. If you’re a sole proprietor, you can leave this section blank.
Part 9: Details of Equity
This is where you report any debts your business owed at the end of the tax year and any personal contributions or withdrawals you made to or from the business, including for equipment, building, and motor vehicle expenses.
How Do I File Form T2125?
The best way to be prepared for filing this form and any tax document is to have your financial records organized and in front of you. Accounting software like FreshBooks typically has reports that allow you to get your hands on the right numbers for the right sections quickly and easily. You can then file the form with your T1 income tax package online using tax filing software and the CRA’s EFILE service.
If you’re not sure about which of your expenses do and don’t qualify for inclusion on Form T2125 (i.e., motor vehicle expenses) or you want to be sure you’re maximizing the amounts you claim for business-use-of-vehicle, business-use-of-home, and your capital cost allowance, it might be worth taking it to a tax professional for advice. They’ll fill out Form T2125 on your behalf and file it too.
Last but not least: Don’t forget to check the deadlines for the tax season for which you’re filing. Dates differ from tax year to tax year.
This post was updated in March 2021.