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Eligible Medical Expenses

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Filing Your Return

Eligible Medical Expenses

Income Tax Act s. 118.2(2)

For purposes of the medical expense tax credit (METC), eligible medical expenses include, but are not limited to

bullet amounts paid to medical practitioners, dentists, nurses, and certain other medical professionals.  Note that for the cost of the service by a medical practitioner to qualify as an allowable medical expense, the person providing the service must be recognized as a "medical practitioner" according to the laws of the jurisdiction in which the service is provided.  For instance, a registered massage therapist (in BC, registered with the College of Massage Therapists of BC) is recognized as a medical practitioner in BC and Ontario, but at the time of this writing is not recognized as a medical practitioner in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia.
bullet related Tax Court of Canada case:  Laurie v. The Queen, 2003-04-03
bullet See Canada Revenue Agency table of Authorized Medical Practitioners for each province/territory
bullet amounts paid to public or licensed private hospitals

bullet payments made to organizations for medical services rendered by their employees or partners.  Examples are physiotherapy or homemaker services rendered in the taxpayer's home.
bullet eyeglass frames and lenses and contact lenses prescribed by a medical practitioner
bullet premiums paid to a private health services plan, such as travel medical insurance (must be insurance which will cover only eligible medical expenses - see CRA technical interpretation 2007-0229901E5.pdf), extended health benefits or a dental plan, other than those fees paid by an employer.  Fees paid for a provincial or territorial health care plan (medical or hospitalization) do not qualify, but premiums for Nova Scotia Pharmacare may qualify - see CRA technical interpretation 2006-0205931E5.pdf.  If a person is self employed, the premiums paid for a private health services plan can be deducted from self employment income, instead of being claimed as a medical expense.  This would result in greater (or at least equal) tax savings, and is a way to provide a tax-free benefit to employees of a small business.  See our article on private health services plans.
bullet premiums paid for medical coverage during trips out of the country
bullet premiums paid under a provincial or territorial prescription drug plan, such as the Québec Prescription Drug Insurance Plan and the Nova Scotia Seniors' Pharmacare Program
bullet transportation service costs, where the taxpayer has to travel at least 40 km to the location where the required medical services are provided, as long as substantially equivalent medical services are not available in the taxpayers locality.  If the taxpayer has been certified by a medical practitioner to be incapable of travelling without the assistance of an attendant, then the transportation service costs of the attendant may also be claimed.    If the taxpayer has to travel at least 80 km (one way) for the medical services, then reasonable travel expenses (meals, lodging, vehicle expenses including parking) may also be claimed.  The travel costs can be calculated by keeping all receipts, or by using the CRA meal expense allowance and vehicle cost per kilometre amounts.  See the CRA web page on travel expenses for medical expense, which shows the per kilometre amounts allowed for medical travel for each province.
bullet costs of the following devices (Income Tax Act s. 118.2(2)(i))
bullet artificial limbs
bullet iron lungs
bullet rocking beds for polio victims
bullet wheel chairs
bullet crutches
bullet spinal braces or limb braces
bullet ileostomy or colostomy pads
bullet hernia trusses
bullet artificial eyes
bullet laryngeal speaking aids
bullet hearing aids
bullet artificial kidney machines
bullet phototherapy equipment for treatment of psoriasis or other skin disorders
bullet oxygen concentrator - this includes CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine for sleep apnea
bullet costs of diapers, disposable briefs, catheters, catheter trays, tubing or other products required by the patient by reason of incontinence caused by injury, illness, or affliction
bullet costs of oxygen tent or other equipment for administering oxygen or for insulin, oxygen, liver extract injectible for pernicious anemia or vitamin B12 for pernicious anemia, for use by the patient as prescribed by a medical practitioner
bullet for blind or profoundly deaf patients, or those that have a severe and prolonged impairment that markedly restricts the use of the patient's arms or legs, the costs of an animal specially trained to assist the patient with the impairment, including the costs of food and veterinary care, reasonable travel expenses for the patient to travel to a facility that trains such animals and individuals so impaired, and reasonable board and lodging expenses of the patient while in full-time attendance at such a facility
bullet reasonable expenses incurred in respect of bone marrow or organ transplants, including legal fees and insurance premiums to locate a compatible donor and to arrange for the transplant, and reasonable travel, board and lodging expenses of the donor (and one other person who accompanies the donor) and the patient (and one other person who accompanies the patient)
bullet reasonable expenses relating to renovations or alterations to a dwelling to enable a disabled patient to gain access to, or to be mobile or functional within the dwelling.  Note that a hot tub is not an eligible medical expense, even if it is prescribed by a medical practitioner.  The Income Tax Act [s. 118.2(2)(1.2) and 118.2(2)(1.21)] disallows home alterations or construction costs unless the expenses
  1. are not of a type that would typically be expected to increase the value of the dwelling, and
  2. are of a type that would not normally be incurred by persons who have normal physical development or who do not have a severe and prolonged mobility impairment.
bullet reasonable incremental costs related to the construction of the patient's principal place of residence, to enable the disabled patient to gain access to, or to be mobile or functional within the dwelling
bullet costs of rehabilitative therapy, including training in lip reading and sign language, incurred to adjust for the patient's hearing or speech loss, as well as sign language interpretation services
bullet reasonable moving expenses incurred for the purpose of a disabled patient's move to a dwelling that is more accessible by the patient, or in which the patient is more mobile or functional, to a maximum of $2,000 ($2,518 for Ontario METC for 2011, $2,589 for 2012)
bullet reasonable costs for driveway alterations for the principal place of residence of a patient with severe and prolonged mobility impairment
bullet a portion of the cost of a van, up to $5,000 ($6,295 for Ontario METC for 2011, $6,471 for 2012) which has been adapted for the transportation of a patient who requires the use of a wheelchair
bullet costs of tutoring services for a person with a learning disability or mental impairment.  A medical practitioner must certify that the services are required
bullet prescription drugs that have been prescribed by a medical practitioner and recorded by a pharmacist
bullet costs of diagnostic procedures and services prescribed by a medical practitioner or dentist
bullet costs of dentures, dental services,  and orthodontia services
bulletcosts of devices or equipment for use by the patient that are prescribed by a medical practitioner, and are of a "prescribed" kind as listed in the Income Tax Act Regulation 5700, Medical Devices and Equipment.  See the  Income Tax Act Regulations  Part LVII S. 5700 Medical Expense Tax Credit.  Some of the prescribed equipment includes wigs, needles and syringes, orthopedic shoes and inserts, hospital beds, breast prostheses, and talking textbooks.
bullet the cost of real-time captioning and similar services used by persons with an impairment.
bullet the incremental cost of purchasing gluten-free food products for individuals with Celiac disease who require a gluten-free diet.  Those with Celiac disease should ensure they retain itemized receipts for all gluten-free products.

If devices mentioned above have not been purchased directly from a doctor, dentist, nurse or hospital, make sure you have something in writing from your medical practitioner to indicate that the device is medically required.

Cosmetic procedures

The 2010 Federal Budget proposes to change the wording of the Income Tax Act in order to make it clear that medical or dental services or related expenses which are provided for purely cosmetic purposes are not eligible medical expenses for purposes of the medical expense tax credit, unless the services are necessary for medical or reconstructive purposes.  This is effective for expenses incurred after March 4, 2010.

For more information, see the following articles on our site:

bullet Attendant care expenses
bullet Medical expense tax credit
bullet Non-prescription medications are not eligible for the medical expense tax credit
bullet Persons with disabilities - links to related information on TaxTips.ca 
bullet Extended health benefits or dental plan premiums deducted from your pay qualify as medical expenses.

Information on Canada Revenue Agency website:

bullet Which medical expenses are eligible?
bullet The following income tax folios were published on March 28, 2013 in consultation format to allow for feedback from the tax community.  They will be available until June 28, 2013:
bullet S1-F1-C1: Medical Expense Tax Credit
bullet S1-F1-C2: Disability Tax Credit
bullet S1-F1-C3: Disability Supports Deduction

 

Revised: September 05, 2013

 

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