Really Odd Medical Expenses You Don’t Want to Miss

Christine Steendam

Medical expenses are among the most commonly overlooked tax provisions and it’s important to pay attention to unreimbursed medical expenses and to claim them as they can be used to reduce taxes payable. CRA has a list of over 130 claimable medical expenses. Here are some odd medical expenses you don’t want to miss:

For example, most people know that they can claim medical expenses for their nuclear family: mom, dad and their minor children. But did you know you can also claim for others who are dependent on you if they are resident in Canada? That includes children over 18, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, even uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces.

The claim is made for the best 12-month period ending in the tax year, so that also means you can group together claims from last year, if your income was too high to claim them before.

There are many interesting costs that are deductible, provided they are unreimbursed by a medical plan. So, for example, if you are on a medical plan at work and it covers 80 percent of all these costs, you can claim the 20 percent that is not covered by the plan. Furthermore, the premiums for the private medical plan are claimable too, including those provided by an employer. Check pay stubs and Box 40 of the T4 slip for the premiums in this case.

Here is a list of ten odd medical expenses you may have missed:

Medical expense

Details

Prescription needed?

Certification in writing needed?

Air conditioner and/or furnace

For a person with a severe chronic ailment, disease, or disorder, one can claim $1,000 or 50% of the amount paid for the air conditioner, whichever is less, and/or the amount paid for an electric or sealed combustion furnace to replace a furnace that is neither of these, where the replacement is necessary because of a person's severe chronic respiratory ailment or immune system disorder.

Yes

No

Air or water filter, cleaner, or purifier

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.

Yes

No

Baby breathing monitor

For an infant deemed by a medical practitioner to be at risk of SIDS. Designed to be attached to an infant to sound an alarm if the infant stops breathing.

Yes

No

Diapers or disposable briefs

For a person who is incontinent because of an illness, injury, or affliction.

No

No

Gluten-free products

For people who have celiac disease, the incremental cost of acquiring gluten-free food products can be claimed, but you’ll need to compare the cost of gluten-free vs non-gluten-free food products. That person must also have a written certificate from a medical practitioner that a gluten-free diet is required. Deductible costs include the incremental cost of gluten-free bread, bagels, muffins, and cereals, rice flour and GF spices. Only the costs related to the person with celiac disease are to be used in calculating the medical expense tax credit . . . so if others consume the same food with the patient, a proration is necessary.

A letter from a medical practitioner that certifies that the person has celiac disease and needs a gluten-free diet

A letter from a medical practitioner that certifies that the person has celiac disease and needs a gluten-free diet

Hearing aids

For those in need of hearing aids or personal assistive listening devices, the cost of these items including repairs and batteries can be claimed.

No

No

Laser eye surgery

The amount paid to a medical practitioner or a public or licensed private hospital.

No

No

Talking textbooks

For a student enrolled in a secondary school in Canada or a designated educational institution, who has a perceptual disability. A medical practitioner must certify in writing that the expense is necessary.

Yes

No

Voice recognition software

For people with an impairment in physical function. A medical practitioner must certify in writing that the software is necessary.

No

Yes

Wigs

A wig made to order for an individual who has suffered abnormal hair loss because of disease, medical treatment or accident.

Yes

No

Source: CRA

New in 2019. There are three additions and changes to claimable medical expenses in 2019 that we’ve excerpted from Essential Tax Facts, 2019 edition :

  1. Medical Cannabis. As of October 17, 2018, no prescription is required. A medical document signed by a medical or nurse practitioner will suffice to claim in.
  2. Psychiatric Service Animals. Starting in 2018, the costs of animals that have been specially trained to provide assistance to people with severe mental impairments, such as guiding a disoriented patient, searching the patient’s home if the patient has severe anxiety, or applying compression to patients who have night tremors, may be claimed. The animal must be trained by a person or organization whose main purpose is this specialized training. Eligible expenses include the cost of care and maintenance for the animal, including food, veterinary costs, and reasonable travel costs for the patient to attend training at a facility that teaches how to handle the animal.
  3. Reproduction Therapy. Couples experiencing medical infertility issues have previously been allowed to claim prescribed fertility medication and in-vitro fertilization procedures and their associated costs as a medical expense under the medical expense tax credit.

What’s new is taxpayers may elect to claim the costs of reproductive technologies even where the treatment is not medically indicated because of a medical infertility condition. In addition, the taxpayer may elect to claim the expenses in any of the immediately preceding ten tax years.

In most cases, medical expenses may only be claimed if they are charged or prescribed by a “medical practitioner.” Medical expenses are also a non-refundable amount, meaning they can be used to reduce taxable income. Claims for medical expenses are reduced by 3% of the claimant’s net income to a maximum of $2,352 in 2019.

Remember, medical expenses are often missed—and audited— so save all your receipts for these common expenditures.

Looking for more than just odd medical expenses? Common medical expenses and how they work are covered in Essential Tax Facts, 2019 edition.

Additional educational resources: Learn more about helping your clients claim the medical expenses and other tax provisions available to them by attending the January CE Summits , Canada’s most comprehensive T1 filing course for 2019 returns. This event will be taking place in six cities across Canada: Winnipeg on Jan 16, Toronto on Jan 20, Ottawa on Jan 21, Calgary on Jan 22, Edmonton on Jan 23 and Vancouver on Jan 24. Enrol today.

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