A Guide to Tax Planning for Doctors in Canada

Richard Wilson, Nicole Kirubi
| 1/24/2024

In the busy world of healthcare, mastering tax planning for doctors is a crucial step for every medical practitioner in Canada. Medical Professionals like you often encounter the challenging and time-consuming intricacies of tax planning, which can detract from the time available for patient care.

In this guide, Crowe MacKay’s trusted Medical industry advisors provide you with the tools and knowledge to confidently navigate the Canadian tax landscape. This resource will help you to understand the intricacies of taxes for doctors in Canada , helping you get back to what matters most – your patients. 

Income Tax Brackets

For your reference, download our Tax Rate Cards, which have income tax brackets for British Columbia, Alberta, and other provinces and territories across Canada.

Download Our Tax Rate Cards

People chatting in the hospital

What Tax Returns Should a Doctor File in Canada?

For doctors in Canada, the primary tax return is the T1 General Return. Still, several additional forms may be necessary depending on the structure and specifics of your practice. These other forms can include:

  • Form T2125 (Statement of Business or Professional Activities): This form is essential for doctors operating as sole proprietors or in a partnership. It details the income and expenses related to their medical practice. The form helps calculate the net professional income and is reported on the T1 General Return.
  • T4 Slips (Statement of Remuneration Paid): If a doctor employs staff, they must issue T4 slips. These slips report the salaries, wages, and other compensation paid to employees, along with the deductions made for income tax, Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and Employment Insurance (EI).
  • GST/HST Returns: Doctors who provide taxable supplies and who choose to be registered or are required to be registered for GST/HST must file GST/HST returns. It is particularly relevant if their services are only partially exempt from GST/HST. They need to report the GST/HST collected from patients and can claim credits for the GST/HST paid on business purchases.
  • Form T5013 (Statement of Partnership Income): For doctors in a partnership, Form T5013 is necessary. It outlines each partner's share of the income or loss from the partnership.
  • Corporate Tax Return (T2): If the doctor's practice is incorporated a separate corporate tax return (T2) must be filed. This return deals with the income, expenses, tax credits, and taxes payable by the corporation.

These forms are used to detail and report a doctor's business operations, employment responsibilities and excise tax requirements (if any).. Filing these forms is crucial for tax compliance and effective financial management.

Knowing the Difference Between Taxable Income and Non-Taxable Income

Taxable Income

Your taxable income includes earnings from your practice, investments, and any additional income. It's the cornerstone of your tax return, and understanding its components is critical. It determines how much you owe to the government and influences decisions on savings and investments. As a doctor, your taxable income may consist of various sources, including your practice earnings and professional benefits, rental income, or investments, each with its tax considerations.

Non-Taxable Income

Non-taxable income encompasses certain types of grants, inheritances, or gifts. Knowing what doesn't count towards your taxable income can save you from overpaying taxes. This category might include specific types of disability insurance payouts, certain inheritances, and other forms of income that the Canada Revenue Agency does not tax. Awareness of these exceptions ensures you correctly report income that could lead to unnecessary taxation.

Medical Stereoscope

Tax Deductions for Doctors in Canada

Navigating doctors' tax deductions  can significantly reduce your taxable income, leading to substantial savings. As a physician, it's crucial to understand the expenses that can be deducted in your practice. This understanding helps reduce your tax liability and assists in better financial planning for your practice.

Business Taxes, Licenses, and Memberships

Businesses taxes, licenses, and memberships  are essential expenditures for running a practice and are fully deductible. They include medical license fees, professional association dues, and business taxes. Keeping track of these expenses throughout the year ensures you can take advantage of these crucial deductions, which can add up to significant amounts.

Insurance Premiums

Insurance premiums, including malpractice insurance and any other insurance  related to your practice, are tax deductible expenses. However, life insurance premiums are not tax deductible unless required by a debt facility.  Understanding how to account for these premiums properly can play an essential role in managing your practice's finances effectively.

Employee Wages

Salaries and benefits paid to your staff are deductible. It reduces your taxable income while ensuring your practice runs smoothly. Maintaining accurate records of these expenses is essential, as they form a substantial part of your practice's operating costs.


If you're renting space for your practice, these expenses are deductible. It includes not just the rent but also any related costs like utilities. When doctors are incorporated, there is also opportunity to deduct home office costs via a home office rent. Keeping detailed records of these expenses is crucial for claiming the full extent of the deduction.

Bank Fees

Bank charges related to your professional account, including transaction fees and account maintenance costs, can be deducted. As a doctor, you may have several banking transactions linked to your practice, and these fees, though small individually, can accumulate over time.

Technology, Equipment, Stationary, and Furniture

Investments in technology, medical equipment, and office supplies are deductible. It includes everything from computers to examination tables. These expenses not only improve the quality of your practice but also offer tax benefits.

Cell and Internet

Communication costs, such as cell phone and internet used for business purposes, are generally deductible. These expenses are inevitable, and understanding their deductible portion can contribute to overall tax savings. 

Meals and Entertainment

Though often limited, meals and entertainment expenses can be deductible, especially regarding business meetings or continuing education events.

Travel and Vehicle Expenses

Travel costs for conferences or visiting patients are deductible. It includes vehicle expenses based on the business use percentage. Keeping a log of travel for work purposes can substantiate these deductions.

Other Expenses

Other deductible expenses include start-up costs, learning and development fees, conference fees, and medical books related to your practice. These costs, though sometimes overlooked, can provide significant tax relief.

Should You Incorporate Your Doctor's Practice?

Deciding whether to incorporate a medical practice hinges on several factors, including financial goals, the size of the practice, and personal circumstances. Incorporation can offer tax advantages but also comes with added complexities.

Pros of Incorporating
  • Lower corporate tax rates compared to personal tax rates.
  • Potential for income splitting among family members.
  • Flexibility in managing personal income and retirement planning.
Cons of Incorporating
  • Additional costs for setting up and maintaining a corporation due to legal, accounting, and filing requirements.
  • Complex regulatory compliance and corporate governance.
  • Complexity in winding down the corporation.
The decision to incorporate often makes sense for well-established practices with higher earnings, where the benefits of lower corporate tax rates and income splitting are most advantageous. However, where a doctor has more moderate earnings the additional costs and regulatory burdens might not justify incorporation for new or small-scale practices.

Learn more about incorporating your practice

Are There Ways to Reduce Doctors' Taxable Income?

There are ways for doctors’ to reduce their taxable income.  The ways can vary depending on your business structure. 

Sole Proprietor
Sole Proprietor
  • Ensure the deduction of all deductible business expenses
  • Make registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) contributions
  • Income split where possible
  • Access lower corporate tax rates
  • Income split where possible
  • Defer taxes by reducing high rate personal income
Person doctor chatting with patient

How Should Physicians Calculate their Annual Receipts?

Physicians should calculate their annual receipts by tracking all sources of income. This should include earnings from patient care consultancy fees, resident training, and any other sources of income related to their practice.

Accurate calculation of annual receipts is vital for adequate tax preparation and financial planning. Utilizing software tools like QuickBooks, FreshBooks, or Xero can significantly streamline this process. However, for more simple medical practices an export of your online banking may suffice. The key is finding a tool that works for you to help organize and categorize your income and expenses.

Additional Tax Tips for Physicians 

Adequate tax preparation for physicians  involves staying organized, tracking deductible expenses, and understanding changing tax laws to optimize returns and reduce liabilities.

Have a Good Expense Record

Maintaining expense records is non-negotiable. Doing so will assist with  successful tax planning for physicians. Good record-keeping simplifies tax filing and supports claims for deductions.

Track Your Income

Regular income tracking helps you understand your financial flow and prepare accurate tax returns. This practice helps in identifying trends and making informed financial decisions.

Consider a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

A TFSA can be a smart way to save money without increasing your taxable income. The flexibility and tax advantages of a TFSA make it an attractive option for physicians looking to save for the future.

Open a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

RRSP contributions are deductible from your taxable income and are a wise choice for long-term financial planning. These accounts not only provide retirement savings but also immediate tax relief.

Use a Competent Accountant

A skilled accountant who understands the specific needs of physicians can be invaluable in navigating the complex tax landscape. They can provide tailored advice, ensuring your tax planning  is efficient and compliant.

Are You a Doctor in Need of Help with Tax Planning? 

Effective tax planning for doctors  is essential in Canada, providing a pathway to financial stability and success in their profession. This guide has covered general aspects, from understanding the types of tax returns required and distinguishing between taxable and non-taxable income to exploring a variety of deductions specific to medical professionals.

We also delved into the implications of incorporating a practice and the advantages for sole proprietors and corporations. Practical tips like maintaining accurate expense records, considering TFSA and RRSP, and using a skilled accountant like Crowe MacKay LLP are recommended. By staying informed and proactive in tax planning , doctors can maximize their financial potential while remaining compliant with the ever-evolving tax laws.

Tax planning for doctors  should be made easy and it can be. If your practice needs assistance with tax services this year, don't hesitate to contact Crowe MacKay LLP by filling out our contact form.


How are Doctors Taxed in Canada?

Doctors in Canada are taxed on their income earned in their personal hands at both the federal and provincial levels. The tax system is progressive, meaning the rate increases as your income does. For example, if you earn $250,000 annually, you would fall into the top tax brackets.  Depending on your province the highest tax rate will vary. In British Columbia, any income over $240,000 is taxed at 53.3%, while in Alberta, income over $235,000 is taxed at 47%, with the rate increasing to 48% on income over $340,000.  

All tax brackets and rates indicated are based on the highest combined federal and provincial rates for 2023

If a doctor incorporates, the taxes become more complex as tax will be incurred at the corporate and personal level. However, depending on your earnings, significant tax deferrals can be realized by having income in the top marginal tax brackets taxed at the lower corporate rates (11%-27% in BC and 11%-23% in Alberta) rather than all in your personal hands. This is where timely and effective tax planning can take your financial planning to the next level.

Learn more about incorporating your practice

Can Doctors Write Off Their Cars?
Yes, doctors in British Columbia and Alberta can write off car expenses related to their practice. Still, it's important to distinguish between personal and business use. If you are incorporated, you will be able to claim a per kilometer allowance specified by CRA. For doctors who are not incorporated, you may claim a pro-rata of the expenses, including fuel, maintenance, insurance, lease costs or depreciation based on the business versus personal kilometers driven in the year. Accurate record-keeping is essential to substantiate these deductions, including maintaining a logbook of work-related travel is recommended.
Do Doctors Pay into CPP?

Yes, employed or self-employed doctors must contribute to the Canada Pension Plan. Doctors who are incorporated may not be required to pay into CPP if they choose to compensate themselves via dividends rather than salary. However, making this decision should be carefully considered during the tax planning process as it can impact other opportunities.

Incorporating these insights into your tax planning  can significantly enhance your financial well-being, allowing you to focus more on your patients and less on financial stress.

This article has been published for general information. You should always contact your trusted advisor for specific guidance pertaining to your individual tax needs. This publication is not a substitute for obtaining personalized advice.

If you’re in the Medical industry  and are struggling to balance patient care with business finances, Crowe MacKay’s trusted advisors can provide you with personalized support, ensuring you receive the best care.

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Nicole Kirubi
Nicole Kirubi
Partner, Incorporated 
Richard Wilson
Partner, Incorporated
Sunshine Coast

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