Medical & Disability

Surprising Tax Deductible Medical Expenses

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers deductions and credits for many medical expenses. While most taxpayers know they can claim hospital fees and prescriptions, they often overlook less common medical expenses. If you want to optimize your return and lower your tax burden, don’t forget to claim these less-common and sometimes surprising medical expenses.

The Cost Difference of Gluten-Free Food

If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, eating gluten-free is a medical necessity, and the CRA allows you to deduct the difference between the cost of gluten-free and conventional food.

For example, if you buy a loaf of gluten-free bread for $7 and your grocer sells wheat bread for $3, you can claim $4 as a medical expense. In case of an audit, be sure to save your grocery receipts as well as relevant proof of the general prices of conventional food.

Medical Marijuana

If you have a medical marijuana prescription, the CRA allows you to claim money spent on marijuana as a medical expense. To qualify, you must have a receipt, and the purchase must be made from a legal and licensed facility.

You may also claim the cost of marijuana seeds but may not claim any costs related to growing including lights, containers, fertilizers and other items.

Expenses Related to Learning Disabilities

If you, your spouse or common-law partner, your child, or the child of your spouse or common-law partner has a severe learning disability or mental impairment, you may be able to claim costs related to those disabilities as medical expenses. Talking books, reading services, devices and software to accommodate people with learning disabilities, and tutoring services are all eligible expenses.

In order to qualify, the user of the device or service must be diagnosed with a severe learning disability or mental impairment by a qualified medical professional. Services such as tutoring must be provided by a qualified professional whom you pay. For example, you cannot tutor your child on your own and claim the theoretical expense as a deduction.

Medical Travel Expenses

If you pay to take an ambulance to a hospital or medical centre, you can claim those costs as a medical expense. Additionally, if you need a type of medical care that is not available in your area and you travel at least 40 kilometres (one way) to access that care, you can write off the cost of public transit tickets or driving expenses.

Each province awards a certain number of cents for each kilometre driven, and the CRA maintains a current chart of reimbursement amounts on its website. For example, if you live in Alberta and travel 42 kilometres to access medical care, you may claim 48.5 cents per mile or $20.37.

If you must travel more than 80 kilometres (one way) for medical care, you may claim travel costs as well as expenses for reasonable accommodations and meals. You may save your receipts and claim the exact amount of money you spend on meals, or you can claim $17 per meal up to $51 per day.

If your medical condition requires an attendant to accompany you, you may also deduct the cost of their accommodation, meals and public transit costs.

Other Dependant Expenses

The CRA allows you to deduct any of the above expenses if they are paid by you on behalf of yourself, your spouse or common-law partner, your child or the child of your spouse or common-law partner. However, if you incur medical expenses for other dependants, you may also claim those expenses.

In order to qualify, the individual must be the child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew of you or your spouse or common-law partner, and he must be a resident of Canada. However, if the dependant is the child or grandchild of you or your spouse or common-law partner, the requirement to reside in Canada does not apply.

For example, if you support your grandmother who lives in England, you cannot claim her medical expenses because she does not reside in Canada, but if you support your child or grandchild who lives in the United States, you can claim those expenses as the residency rule does not apply.

Unfortunately, when determining the expenses for these dependants, you cannot add these expenses to the total medical expenses for you, your spouse or common-law partner and your children. Instead, you must add up other dependant expenses in a separate category.

If these expenses exceed the lesser of $2,208 or 3 percent of the dependant’s income, you can claim the difference as a medical tax credit.

Eligible Moving Expenses

If you have a physical impairment or lack normal physical development, you can claim reasonable moving expenses related to moving to a facility that can accommodate your disability.

In order to qualify, the expenses must not exceed $2,000 and they cannot be claimed anywhere else on the tax return or on anyone else’s tax return.