I've been away after changing jobs (which left me much more free time but I've used it to play live rather than post much).
I will say that each of your "income" producing activities needs to be looked at separately. Poker earnings may be taxable to you and not to a friend who made more than you and it may not be taxable to you even if it was 100% of your income for the year and taxable to a guy who also made 2 million as a lawyer or flipping houses. The changing treatment for tax of poker winnings is consistent with other sources of income, like stocks or real estate (can be business or capital gains) or hobbies (non deductible if a loss but taxable if you make money at it) - the treatment depends on your situation and intent.
I fee a little differently than I did in the past about this issue.
I remain 100% convinced that poker winnings are taxable for that small group of people that can be considered to be in the business of poker. It is in the spirit of the Income Tax Act and I don't think that is in the least doubt.
How big that group of people is and how you determine whether or not you are in it may be more debatable. The factors that must be considered have been written about. How you balance them one side or the other is where the debate lies since only a court can really tell you how it weighs competing facts and there hasn't been many cases to draw comparisons to.
In looking at the most recent major case to go to the tax court (http://decision.tcc-cci.gc.ca/en/200...006tcc680.html
), I see a few different things. One, I think the CRA lost the case because of flawed reasoning and a poor argument (don't read too much into this case for poker - it relates to sports lotteries where the defence was able to orive that there can be no reasonable expectation of profit) . More importantly, I see the judge's reasoning as showing that because the public thinks gaming winnings are non-taxable, it will take a strong case to get the courts to accept its taxation. This can be done in some cases I know, but until one of those comes along, the CRA wil have a tough time getting the courts to agree that gaming winnings are taxable.
This means thats for 99% of people (those who aren't the hardcore verifiable pros) who win at poker, they don't have to worry about being forced to pay tax on it if they choose not to declare it.
I still think that there is no doubt that poker earnings should be taxable for those who treat it as a business and there is no doubt that the CRA agrees with me and will likely keep looking for cases it can test.
Until they find that one slam dunk case though, the people who have any factors that may mitigate taxation will probably not have to worry.