Medical & Disability

Medical Expense Deduction: Tips on Getting Organized Early

One of the more time-consuming entries at tax time is medical expenses. With a bit of planning and work before tax time, you can make entering your medical expenses much easier.

Ask for a Printout

Rather than assembling dozens of individual receipts, opt for an annual printout. Most pharmacies offer this service to their patrons but, as with all things tax-related, the earlier you ask the better. Depending on how busy your pharmacy is, it may take up to three weeks to receive the paperwork. Be sure to ask for a detailed copy which lists both the total cost of your prescriptions as well as your out-of-pocket expense.
Don’t forget about other practitioners such as dentists, physiotherapists, audiologists, etc. If you (or any of your family members) have visited any of these offices, be sure to obtain a printout for tax purposes. If you bought glasses or contacts online, access your account on the provider’s site to print off your totals.

Medical Travel

If you had to travel outside your community to obtain medical treatment, you may be able to claim travel costs as a deduction at tax time. To qualify,

  • Substantially equivalent medical services must not be available near your home
  • The trip must be at least 40 kms (one-way) using a direct travel path
  • The trip must be reasonable under the circumstances – meaning you didn’t just drive to your out-of-town doctor to say hello.

If your trip was between 40-80 kms one way, you can claim transportation expenses. This is the cost of a bus pass, train ticket, etc. If you didn’t use public transportation, you may claim vehicle expenses including mileage and parking. If your trip was more than 80 kms one-way, you may also claim accommodations and meals. If you had to accompany your spouse, child, or other dependant because they couldn’t make the trip alone, your own travel costs may also be deductible.

There are two ways to calculate medical travel costs

  • The detailed method – actual receipts of vehicle costs, meals, etc.
  • The simplified method – uses a per km rate for mileage and per meal rate for meals.

If you travelled out of the country for medical services, certain rules apply.
If possible, review and calculate your medical travel trips before starting your tax return. Make an itemized list with totals and file it away for tax time. You’ll thank yourself later.

Gluten-Free Foods

Although gluten-free is a popular trend in food, only a very small percentage of taxpayers can actually claim any of the extra cost as a medical expense. Those who suffer from Celiac Disease are able to claim the difference in cost only between “regular” and “gluten-free” products, not the cost of the product itself. For example, if buy gluten-free bagels, you must also record the cost of “regular” bagels. If the gluten-free option is higher in price, you may claim only the difference as a medical expense. Prepare all of these items (your receipts for GF goods and prices of “regular” goods to compare) prior to tax time to make medical expenses easier to input. Along with receipts for gluten-free items and a record of “regular” prices, CRA may also request a note from your doctor expressing your need for gluten-free. Learn more about dietary expenses eligible for the medical expense tax credit.