The word dependant is defined as “A person who relies on another, especially a family member, for financial support”. The Canada Revenue Agency’s definition of dependant is similar but can vary for each credit. Let’s break it down by each credit.

Eligible Dependant Amount

The Amount for an Eligible Dependant Credit on Line 30400 is often referred to by its former name “Equivalent to Spouse”. Most commonly associated with single-parent families, this Non-Refundable Tax Credit doesn’t just apply to children. One of the larger credits, the eligible dependant credit can be up to approximately $12,000 (or more if your dependant qualifies for the Canada Caregiver amount).

To claim the credit, both of these criteria must be met:

At any time during the year:

  • You did not have a spouse or common-law partner, or if you did, you weren’t living with or being supported by them.
  • The dependant was supported by you, meaning you maintained a home and the dependant lived with you. Just visiting doesn’t count.

The “dependant” for this particular credit must be your:

  • Parent or grandparent, or…
  • Child, grandchild, brother, or sister under the age of 18 (over 18 qualifies if the dependant is physically or mentally impaired)
  • Any of the above relationships can be by blood, marriage, common-law partnership, or adoption.

Common question: “My 20-year-old son lives at home while attending university. I support him fully. Doesn’t that make him an eligible dependant?”

Unless your son suffers from a physical or mental impairment, CRA doesn’t view him as a dependant. Even if you provide all of his necessities, do his laundry, and drive him everywhere, he’s still not considered an eligible dependant.

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Canada Caregiver Credit (CCC)

The Canada Caregiver Credit replaced three credits:

  • The Caregiver Amount,
  • The Amount for Infirm Dependants (18 & older), and
  • The Family Caregiver Amount.

If at any time in the taxation year in question, you (and/or your spouse) maintained a home for a disabled or elderly relative over the age of 18, you may be eligible to claim the Canada Caregiver Credit. The definition of dependant for this credit is different than for the Eligible Dependant Amount credit.

In this case, the dependant must be:

  • Your child, grandchild, brother, sister, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, parent, or grandparent
  • Dependent on you (or your spouse) due to a physical or mental impairment

Medical Expenses for Other Dependants

In addition to claiming medical expenses for yourself, your spouse, and your minor children, you may be eligible to claim the medical expenses for other dependants credit on Line 33199 of your return. This Non-Refundable Tax Credit is specifically for additional relatives including:

  • Your (or your spouse’s) adult children
  • Your (or your spouse’s) parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, or nephews.
  • If you supported any of the above relatives, you may claim medical expenses. The dependant doesn’t need to be physically or mentally impaired to qualify. For instance, If your 20-year-old son lives at home while attending university, you can likely claim his braces as a medical expense.

All of the above credits have other eligibility requirements. Some credits cannot be claimed together, while others can. Some can be split between spouses, others cannot. Income caps apply to each one. It’s important to choose a tax prep software that can navigate these dependant credits. TurboTax can help. Our EasyStep interview can guide you through and take the guesswork out of your taxes.

However, if you feel a bit overwhelmed, consider TurboTax Live Assist & Review and get unlimited help and advice from a real person as you do your taxes. Plus, there’s a final review before you file.  Or, choose TurboTax Live Full Service* and have one of our tax experts do you return from start to finish.

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