Last updated: April 24 2019

Tax Tips: 12 Commonly Missed Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are among the most commonly overlooked tax provisions. Most people have out-of-pocket costs not covered by a medical plan, so It’s important to pay attention to to claim them, as they can be used to reduce taxes payable. Use this checklist of twelve often-missed allowable medical expenses to your benefit, or that of your clients.

Components of this article were excerpted from Essential Tax Facts, 2019 Edition.

Who should claim medical expenses? It’s possible to claim family medical expenses on the tax return of either spouse. However, it is generally a better strategy to have the spouse with the lower net income make these claims. This is because total medical expenses must be reduced by 3% of the claimant’s net income up to a specific threshold amount.

What are eligible medical expenses? In most cases, medical expenses may only be claimed if they are charged or prescribed by a “medical practitioner.” Expenses incurred for medical treatment by practitioners in the following list, or for prescriptions made by them, may be claimed (so long as the practitioner is licensed federally or in the taxpayer’s province):

Practitioners: Often-missed expenses include payment to:

  • A dentist
  • A speech-language pathologist
  • A chiropractor
  • A naturopath
  • A chiropodist (or podiatrist)
  • An acupuncturist
  • An audiologist

Medical treatments: Often-missed expenses include attendant or nursing home care and ambulance fees. Also:

  • Travel expenses if the patient (and a companion) must travel at least 40 km to receive treatment not available closer to home)
  • Alterations to the home for disabled persons (prescribed)
  • Lip reading or sign language training, reading services provided under a medical practitioner’s prescription, provided to a blind or learning-disabled person by a person engaged in the business of providing such services
  • Cost of drugs obtained under the Special Access Program (these are drugs not yet approved for general use, but which may be authorized for use by individuals under cases of emergency or when conventional therapies have failed, are unsuitable or are unavailable)
  • Medical marijuana or marijuana seeds purchased from Health Canada, or medical marijuana purchased from an individual who possesses a Designated-person Production Licence under the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR)
  • Tutoring services for a patient with a learning disability or mental impairment
  • Private health-plan premiums, including group insurance premiums paid through employment and Blue Cross premiums including travel costs

Also, take note, expenses for any of the following medical devices may be claimed:

  • A wig made to order for an individual who has suffered abnormal hair loss because of disease, medical treatment or accident.
  • An air or water filter or purifier for use by an individual who is suffering from a severe chronic respiratory ailment or a severe chronic immune system disregulation.
  • A device or equipment designed to pace or monitor the heart of an individual who suffers from heart disease.
  • An orthopedic shoe or boot or an insert for a shoe or boot made to order for an individual, in accordance with a prescription, to overcome a physical disability.
  • A power-operated guided chair installation for an individual, that is designed to be used solely in a stairway.

Beginning in 2018, the costs of acquiring an animal specially trained to perform tasks for a patient with a severe mental impairment, in order to assist them in coping with their impairment, are now allowed as a medical expense. Expenses related to dogs not specifically trained for this purpose will not be allowable as a medical expense.

Note: There is no line on the T1 to claim healthy minors. But, if your child is infirm, some additional tax support is available under the Canada Caregiver Amount and the claim for medical expenses.  Vulnerable people should also be cautious in ensuring they have proper documentation regarding medical expense claims, as the CRA has been particularly tough on auditing those who claim the Disability Amount and medical expenses for life-sustaining care.

Additional educational resources: The above checklist was excerpted from Essential Tax Facts, 2019 edition. Pre-order today – copies will be shipping as of May 24, or pick up yours in-person when attending one of Knowledge Bureau’s live events this summer! Pre-ordered copies will be brought to the CE Summits, by request. Call 1.866.953.4769 to order.








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