When it comes to caring for our loved ones, we’d be willing to bear almost any expense regardless of the cost. Still, it’s nice to know there are a number of credits and deductions you can claim for your dependants to help offset your expenses!
Definition of a Dependant for Income Tax Purposes
The word dependant is defined as “a person who relies on another, especially a family member, for financial support”. For income tax purposes, The Canada Revenue Agency’s definition of dependant is similar, but who exactly qualifies can vary by credit.
Children are most often thought of as dependants for tax purposes, but other relatives can also qualify as dependants. Generally, if the person lives with you and relies on you for financial and physical support, you may be able to claim them as a dependant. There are a number of expenses, credits and amounts that you may be able to claim for providing care. However, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to dependants.
Who Qualifies as a Dependant?
An eligible dependant varies based on the credit or deduction you want to claim. Many different people can qualify as dependants, and someone who qualifies as a dependant for the purposes of one credit may not qualify for another dependant credit.
The most common dependant types are:
- Your children and grandchildren (either biological, adopted or stepchildren)
- Your parents and grandparents
- Your brothers or sisters (including brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law)
- Your nieces, nephews, aunts or uncles
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Here are some common dependant tax credits:
Child Care Expenses
The most common deduction for parents is for child care. When you’ve paid someone to look after your children so you can work, carry on a business, or go to school, you can claim child care expenses. Usually, you can only claim expenses for children under the age of 16, but there’s no age limit if your child has a physical or mental impairment.
Amount for an Eligible Dependant
If you’re a single parent, you may be able to claim one of your children under 18 years of age, or one deemed a dependant due to mental or physical impairment, under the Amount for an Eligible Dependant. The Amount for an Eligible Dependant is sometimes also known as the Equivalent to Spouse credit.
The Amount for an Eligible Dependant is one of the credits where your eligible dependant doesn’t have to be your child. Other relatives, like your parents, grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings may qualify, if they live with you and were supported by you. Unfortunately, visiting in-laws don’t qualify!
Canada Caregiver Amount
The Canada Caregiver Credit (replaced these three credits: the Caregiver Amount, the Family Caregiver Amount (FCA), and the Amount for Infirm Dependants age 18 or older) helps people who care for family members who are elderly or have a disability.
Generally, you may qualify for this credit if you support a relative who is over the age of 18 and who at any time in the year was dependent on you because of a mental or physical infirmity. For more details on eligibility, please read our post “Everything You Need to Know About the Canada Caregiver Credit”.
If you would like to learn more about credits and deductions for families, check out our post “Family Tax Deductions: What can I claim?”
Medical Expenses for Dependants
If you paid medical expenses for a family member, you may be able to claim the cost on your tax return. In addition to your spouse and kids under 18, other relatives such as parents, grandparents, and in-laws are all considered dependants when it comes to medical expenses. To find out if your dependant qualifies, check out our Medical Expense Tax Credit for Other Dependants post.
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