By Jack Styan, RDSP Resource Centre
The Medical Expense Tax Credit is an underutilized opportunity for people with disabilities and families to reduce many disability related expenses. It is underutilized for a couple of reasons: first, it is somewhat complicated to calculate, and second, people often do not connect their disability related expenses with a medical expense credit.
Claiming the Medical Expense Tax Credit
There are three things to remember about the Medical Expense Tax Credit:
• You can claim it for any one year period that ended during the specific tax year
• The amount you claim is reduced by 3% of your net income (this means it is worth proportionately more to people with lower incomes!)
• You can claim the amount for yourself, spouse or common-law partner, minor children and other eligible relatives who are dependent upon you for support.
A wide array of expenses may be claimed. The list is long, sometimes not straight-forward and ever changing as people ask for and appeal rulings constantly. For example, guide dogs, including the cost of the dog, food and veterinary costs can be claimed. You can also claim prescription drugs, but only if handled by a pharmacist. Over the counter drugs, however, cannot be claimed even if prescribed by a physician.
An array of devices and services may be claimed by people who have challenges in communicating, including (from CRA’s website):
• Sign-language interpretation services used by a person with a speech or hearing impairment and paid to someone in the business of providing such services
• Voice recognition software used by a person who has an impairment in physical functions
• Talking textbooks in connection with enrolment in an educational institution in Canada or a designated educational institution for a person who has a perceptual disability
• Teletypewriters or similar devices that enable a person who is deaf or unable to speak to make and receive phone calls
• Altered auditory feedback devices for the treatment of a speech disorder – prescription required.
• Electronic speech synthesizers that enable a person who is unable to speak to communicate using a portable keyboard – prescription required.
• Bliss symbol boards or similar devices used by a person who has a speech impairment to help the person communicate by selecting the symbols or spelling out words – prescription required
• Note: In most cases a prescription is required.
For more information on this important topic, check out Tax Planning for a Person with a Disability course at PLAN