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Filing Your Return -> Medical Expense Tax Credit

Medical Expense Tax Credit (METC) Line 33099, Provincial Line 58689

Note Line 33099 was Line 330 prior to 2019, and Line 58689 was Line 5868.

Income Tax Act s. 118.2(1)

A taxpayer can claim a non-refundable tax credit for medical expenses paid by the taxpayer or the taxpayer's spouse or common-law partner.  The medical expenses claimable include those paid for the taxpayer, the taxpayer's spouse or common-law partner or a child under 18 of the taxpayer or spouse, who is dependent on the taxpayer or spouse for support.

There is a separate calculation for the medical expense tax credit for other eligible dependents, but see the comments below re the 12-month time period.

Generally, all eligible medical expenses can be claimed, even if they were incurred outside of Canada.  When medical expenses are reimbursed by an insurance plan, only the portion not reimbursed can be claimed.

Medical Expenses for Former Spouse or Common-Law Partner

According to Folio S1-F1-C1 Medical Expense Tax Credit paragraph 1.10:

If a medical expense was incurred in one year on behalf of a spouse or common-law partner, or a dependant, but is not paid until the following year at a time when such person is no longer a spouse or common-law partner, or a dependant of the individual, the expense can nevertheless qualify in the year of payment since the person referred to is only required to have been a spouse or common-law partner, or a dependant, at the time the expense was incurred.

What if Both Spouse and Common-Law Partner?

It is possible that an individual could have a spouse and a common-law partner at the same time, for instance if the spouse is an invalid in a nursing home.  According to Folio S1-F1-C1, the individual can claim either the eligible medical expenses in respect of their spouse, or the eligible medical expenses in respect of their common-law partner, but not both.

12 Month Time Period for Medical Expenses

Medical expenses can be claimed if they were paid within any 12 month period ending in the current tax year, and not claimed in the prior tax year. This is the only criteria for the time period for the expenses. The federal and provincial medical expenses claimed must be claimed for the same time period, as must medical expenses for other eligible dependants.

From Technical Interpretation 2014-0529851E5:

The 12-month period chosen by the taxpayer for a taxation year is not required to be retained for subsequent taxation years. Therefore, claims in 2013 may include fees paid between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013 and an application in 2014 for the same taxpayer may include fees paid between June 1, 2013 and May 31, 2014 or any other such 12 month period ending in 2014, provided no expenses are taken into account twice in the calculation of the medical expenses tax credit.

Medical Expenses for a Deceased Person

When medical expenses are being claimed for a deceased person (either dependent or other eligible dependent), they may be claimed if they were paid within any 24 month period including the date of the person's death (and not claimed in a prior year).  In order to claim all medical expenses for 24 months in the year of death, the tax return for the prior year could be revised so that no medical expenses are claimed, leaving them available for the year of death.  To do this, a T1Adj must be filed.    See the article on changing your tax return.

Either spouse can claim the medical expenses for 24 months for a deceased spouse.  The 24-month period for the deceased spouse ends on the date of death.  The 12-month period for the other spouse or children ends on any date in the taxation year.

Claim Medical Expenses on the Tax Return of Lower Net Income Spouse

You should usually claim the total medical expenses for both you and your spouse or common-law partner on one tax return.

You can claim the medical expenses on either spouse's tax return.  If both spouses have taxable income, it is usually better to claim the medical expenses on the return with the lower net income.  This is because the lesser of $2,397 (federal for 2020, $2,421 for 2021 - see the tables of non-refundable tax credits for provincial/territorial amounts) or 3% of net income is deducted from the medical expenses to determine the amount to be used for the tax credit.

Tax Tip: If the lower income spouse does not have enough tax payable to offset the medical expense tax credit, it may be beneficial to move the expenses to the higher income spouse.

If you are a business owner, consider setting up a private health services plan to have your business pay your family medical expenses.  See the private health services plan article on our Small Business page.

Medical Expense Tax Credit Calculation

Medical expenses for the taxpayer, the taxpayer's spouse or common-law partner, and dependent children under 18 are claimed on line 33099 of the federal tax return.  Only expenses in excess of the lesser of $2,397 for 2020 ($2,421 for 2021) or 3% of line 23600 net income can be claimed for the federal tax credit.  The lowest tax rate is applied to the medical expenses to determine the amount of the tax credit.  Due to the way the credit is calculated, a couple will normally get a higher credit by combining the medical expenses of both spouses on one tax return - the one with the lowest net income, unless the income is so low that there would be no tax to offset the credit.

2019 Federal METC Calculation Example

Medical expenses are $1,900 in all 3 cases, but income varies.

Federal METC Calculation 2019 Case 1 Case 2 Case 3
Net income for tax purposes line 23600 $30,000 $60,000 $80,000
Less net capital losses of other years 0 0 (20,000)
Taxable Income $30,000 $60,000 $60,000
 
METC threshold = lesser of
  - medical expense threshold $2,352 $2,352 $2,352
  - or 3% x line 23600 900 1,800 2,400
Lower of the above is $900 $1,800 $2,352
 
Medical expenses $1,900 $1,900 $1,900
Less METC threshold (900) (1,800) (2,352)
medical expenses for tax credit $1,000 $100 $0
Federal tax credit rate 15% 15% 15%
Tax credit $150 $15 $0

All provinces except Quebec use the Federal medical expense total to calculate the provincial medical expense tax credit, but the base amount threshold is different from the Federal for most provinces.  See the tables of non-refundable tax credits for the base amounts and applicable tax credit rates for each province.  See Quebec Medical Expense Tax Credit.

The medical expenses that can be claimed for Ontario are the same as those for the Federal tax credit, except
bullet the maximum Ontario claim for attendant care expenses, which applies only when the disability amount tax credit is being claimed, for 2020 is $14,912 ($29,823 in the year of death, $15,046 and $30,091 for 2021).  The Federal limit is $10,000 ($20,000 in the year of death).  There is no Federal or Ontario limit unless the disability amount tax credit is being claimed.
bullet the maximum Ontario claim for the cost of a van adapted for transporting a patient who requires the use of a wheelchair for 2020 is $7,456 ($7,523 for 2021).  Federal limit is $5,000; and
bullet the maximum Ontario claim for moving expenses for a patient's move to a more accessible dwelling for 2020 is $2,982 ($3,009 for 2021).  Federal limit is $2,000.

Note that the medical expense tax credit (as well as the age amount tax credit) can be reduced by capital gains, even if the capital gains are offset by capital losses carried forward.  This is because the tax credit is based on line 23600 (line 236 prior to 2019) of the tax return, net income for tax purposes.  Losses carried forward are deducted after this on the tax return.  See our article on how to calculate Total Income For Tax Purposes, Net Income For Tax Purposes, and Taxable Income.

Tax Tip:  Use our Detailed Canadian Income Tax Calculator to help determine which spouse should claim the medical expenses.

Medical expenses for other eligible dependants Line 33199, Provincial Line 58729

Note: Line 33199 was Line 331 prior to 2019, and Line 58729 was line 5872.

Income Tax Act s. 118.2(1)D

Medical expenses for other eligible dependants must have been paid within the same 12-month time period as line 33099 medical expenses (see above).

Medical expenses may be claimed for amounts paid on behalf of a person who is dependent on the taxpayer for support (financially - i.e., you are paying medical expenses on their behalf), and who is 

bullet the child over 17, or the grandchild, of the taxpayer or the taxpayer's spouse or common-law partner; or
bullet the parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew (if resident in Canada at any time in the year) of the taxpayer or of the taxpayer's spouse or common-law partner

Medical expenses for other eligible dependants are claimed on line 331 of the federal tax return.  A separate calculation is done for each dependant.  Only expenses in excess of the lesser of $2,397 for 2020 ($2,421 for 2021)  or 3% of net income of the dependant can be claimed for the federal tax credit.  The lowest tax rate is applied to the medical expenses to determine the amount of the tax credit.  The 2011 Federal Budget removed the cap of $10,000 beginning in the 2011 taxation year.

The provincial maximum allowable medical expenses for other eligible dependants was removed for 2011 for all provinces and territories except Ontario, BC, and Northwest Territories.  It was removed for 2012 for BC.  See the tables of non-refundable tax credits for the tax rates applicable to calculate the tax credit, and to see which provinces have a limit on the amount that can be claimed for each dependant.

If more than one person supports the dependant, each supporting person can claim up to the maximum, where a maximum exists, as long as the total claimed by all supporting persons does not exceed the total medical costs for the dependant.  This would make it advantageous to share high medical costs (such as nursing home costs) among supporting persons.  For example, the supporting persons could be husband and wife supporting a parent or grandparent, adult child who is still a student, or adult infirm child, or could be siblings supporting a parent or grandparent.  The key is that each supporting person making a claim must have a receipt to support their claim.

TaxTips.ca Resources

Persons with disabilities - links to all information on TaxTips.ca

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Resources

Income Tax Folio S1-F1-C1, Medical Expense Tax Credit

Income Tax Folio S1-F1-C3, Disability Supports Deduction

RC4064 - Medical and Disability-related Information

Form T2201, disability tax credit certificate>

Tax Tips:

Split high medical costs for other eligible dependants among supporting persons in order to maximize the tax credit received.

You may be eligible for the refundable medical expense supplement.

When claiming medical expenses for a deceased person, it may help to adjust the prior year tax return to remove medical expenses regarding that person, and claim them on the year of death tax return.

Revised: June 08, 2021

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