Tax Benefits for People with Disabilities and their Families

By Salina M. Dewar, Tax Program Advocate, DABC

There are many other benefits, tax credits and deductions that may be available to people with disabilities and their families who support them.  Some of these are non-refundable, so they reduce the amount of tax a person or family must pay. Others are refundable, resulting in extra money back. Specific amounts mentioned in this article were current for the 2017 tax year.

Disability Tax Credit (DTC) Line 316:  to apply for the DTC, your medical practitioner has to complete and sign a T2201 form-Disability Tax Credit Certificate and it has to be approved by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If you are approved for the DTC, you can claim a credit of $8,113 for yourself, and this credit can be transferred to your spouse or another person if you live with them, or they provide food, shelter or clothing to you on a regular and consistent basis. Being eligible for the DTC can allow you to claim certain deductions, credits, and benefits as follows:

  • Reduce the amount of tax you have to pay. If you do not pay taxes or cannot use all of this credit, you can transfer your unused credits to a spouse or other family members on whom you were dependent
  • If you have a child who is under 18 and has been approved for the DTC, you may be eligible to receive a tax-free benefit of up to $2,771 per year ($230.91 per month)
  • Enable you to qualify for the disability supplement of Working Income Tax Benefit with less working income than people who do not have a disability,
  • Depending on your age, enable you to open a Registered Disability Savings Plan and access government grants and bonds that may be worth thousands of dollars, to help you save for later life.

Medical Expense Tax Credit:

(Line 330 for self, spouse/common law partner and children under 18; line 331 for other dependents)

Medical devices, medications, treatments and some services required to help a person function may be a valid medical expense.  The CRA website contains a list and search tool for many of the expenses that may be claimed as medical expenses.  If you have a medical expense that is not on the list, you should contact the CRA, because your expense may still be covered.  In some cases, a medical professional must have prescribed the item or medicine, or the person for whom this expense arose must have a valid Disability Tax Credit.

Some key medical expenses that you may be able to claim are:

  • Attendant care costs for full-time care provided by an attendant who is 18 or older and not a spouse or common-law partner to you, your spouse/ common-law partner or your dependent;
  • Costs of full-time care nursing homes or schools/ institutions providing care and training;
  • Cost of salaries and wages for the care provided to seniors in retirement homes or seniors’ homes;
  • Cost of salaries and wages for part-time attendant care, or care and supervision in your home, group homes and other facilities
  • The extra expense you pay to buy gluten-free food if you have Celiac disease
  • Travel costs can be claimed if you have to travel 40 km or more for medical care. If you have to travel 40 km to 80 km, you can claim the cost of public transit.  If you have to travel more than 80 km for medical care that is not available closer to you, you can claim meal and accommodation costs.

This tax credit is non-refundable.  For people who pay taxes, it reduces the amount of taxes they must pay. However, if they have no taxable income they will not benefit from this tax credit.

  • Line 330 – You can claim the total of the eligible expenses minus whichever is less: $2,268 or 3% of your net income.
  • Line 331 – You can claim the total of the eligible expenses minus whichever is less: $2,268 or 3% of your dependent’s net income.

Depending on the type of care the person with a disability requires, (for example full-time care or specialized care, a nursing home, a full-time attendant at home, at a school, institution, or other place), you can claim DTC and medical care both, or only one of them.

Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) Line 453, and related disability supplement:

To be eligible for the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) and the disability supplement, the person with the disability must be approved for the DTC.  For 2017, in BC, they would have to have a working income of more than $2,295 but less than $24,010. In the same year BC families would be eligible to claim the WITB and disability supplement if either one or both spouses have a disability and the disabled spouses or spouses had working income of $2,295 but less than $36,414.  In a family, only one spouse may claim the WITB and the person who is eligible for the disability supplement should claim it. If both spouses qualify for the WITB disability supplement, they can both claim the disability supplement.

Home buyer’s Amount (Line 369):  If you buy a home that is more accessible or otherwise better meets the need of yourself or person with the disability who lives with you, you may be able to claim the home buyer’s amount, even if this is not your first home. To claim this amount, the person with the disability must be eligible for the DTC in the year you buy the home. The amount that you can claim on line 369 for buying a qualifying home is $5,000.

Home Accessibility Amount (Line 398):  You can claim up to $10,000 for expenses to make the home more accessible or safer for a person who lives in the home and is either 65 or older or eligible for the DTC.

Refundable Medical Expense Supplement (Line 452):  To be eligible, the tax-filer must be 18 years or older, a Canadian resident for the year they’re filing, and meet CRA income requirements.  They must also be eligible to claim the disability supports amount or claim medical expenses for other dependents on their tax return at schedule 1 line 332.

The Canada Caregiver Amount (Line 303, 304, 305, 367)

This tax credit replaces the caregiver credit, the family caregiver credit and the credit for infirm dependents aged 18 + years.

Do you support a spouse or common-law partner, or a dependent with a physical or mental impairment?  If so, the Canada caregiver credit (CCC) is a non-refundable tax credit that may be available to you.

  • For your spouse or common-law partner, you may be entitled to claim an amount of $2,150 in the calculation of line 303. You could also claim an amount up to a maximum of $6,883 on line 304.
  • For an eligible dependent 18 years of age or older, you may be entitled to claim an amount of $2,150 in the calculation of line 305. You could also claim an amount up to a maximum of $6,883 on line 304.
  • For an eligible dependent under 18 years of age at the end of the year, you may be entitled to claim an amount of $2,150 in the calculation of line 305 or on line 367for your child.

The Disability Supports Deduction (Line 215) is an amount that a person with a disability may claim, that serves to reduce the amount of their income for the purposes of their tax return.  Only the person with the mental or physical impairment may claim this deduction.  In some situations, the person with the disability must also have a valid DTC.

In addition, the tax-filer may only claim this deduction if they have incurred medical costs to be able to work, carry on a business, attend a designated secondary school or educational institution, or to complete post-secondary research.

Only the cost of certain devices or services, which a medical practitioner has prescribed or has certified as necessary, may be claimed.  If an expense is included in the claim by anyone for the medical expense tax credit, it cannot be included in the calculation of the medical supports deduction, but the person with a disability may split a medical expense between the medical expense tax credit and the disability supports deduction.

Additional Tax Credits:

There are several lesser-known credits or benefits that may be claimed by or for a person with a disability.  Some of these are:

  • If you are buying or building an accessible home, you qualify for the Home Buyer’s Plan, which allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 from an RDSP.
  • Education-related benefits that are usually available for full time students may also be available for part-time students with disabilities,
  • Tax exemption or employment benefits or allowances received because of a disability,
  • Refund of excise tax on gas if you cannot use transit, and
  • Tax credit for childcare expenses for a child with a physical or mental impairment, even if they were 16 + years old, so you or your spouse/ common law partner can work, run a business, go to school or complete research.

In addition, some products and services for people with disabilities are exempt from GST/HST and you can request a rebate either from the supplier or the CRA.

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This article is not intended to provide financial or legal advice and is not meant to replace the expertise of a lawyer or financial advisor.

 

CRA holds Tax AID focus group at DABC

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CRA staff with Myung Lee, Tax AID Program Manager, and Justina Loh, DABC’s Executive Director: Operations

Thank you very much to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) staff who visited DABC today to hear from our clients about how our Tax AID DABC program has helped them. A big thank you also to the focus group participants who provided their valuable feedback.

Earlier this year, Tax AID expanded to Vancouver Island, the Interior of BC and the North, through a partnership with Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS), Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, and Active Support Against Poverty (ASAP). We’re happy to be able to help more people receiving provincial disability benefits across BC to access the tax credits and benefits to which they are entitled.

Thank you to the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction for supporting Tax AID and this partnership.

New Beginnings-Clearing Tax Filing Off Your “To-Do” List!

September is just around the corner and that means a change in seasons and new priorities.  Remember when you were a student?  September likely brings to mind a new year with new challenges and new possibilities.  For some of us, September was an exciting chance to have a fresh start.  For others, it meant looming unknowns that provoked a sense of dread!  No matter who you are, a change in seasons can bring to mind the time to declutter and start fresh. 

Do you want to wrap up your summer with a big item checked of your “To-Do” list, and possibly a bit of extra cash?  If so, Tax AID DABC may be able to help.

Tax AID DABC can help people who have Person with a Disabilities (PWD) designation, or Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers to Employment (PPMB) designation, to get caught up on filing simple tax returns, no matter where in BC they live.  Currently we can help file tax returns for any or all of 2008-2017, and we can often help even if you have other income such as pension income or employment income.   

A single person whose only income is PWD is often entitled to between $300.00-$550.00 per year in tax benefits, including GST, PST refunds and the BC Low Income Climate Action Tax Credit. People with children may qualify for additional amounts, such as the Canada Child Benefit. Any assistance provided by Tax AID DABC is free, no matter how much a person gets back on their tax returns.

We have tax advocates in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, and Prince George who can help you in person.  If you live outside these communities please contact us to request remote assistance.

Why file now?

  • Demand for assistance is lower than it is around tax time, which means you’ll get tax help faster
  • You’re missing out on GST payments!  If you file your taxes in September, your return may be processed in time for you to get both July and October GST payments in October.  (if you are otherwise eligible for GST, you can still get it going back as far as 2008)
  • It will be much easier and less stressful to file your 2018 taxes before the deadline in the spring.
  • Extra cash in time for the holidays, especially if you have multiple years of tax returns to file.

If you need tax help and want to get off to a fresh start in the fall, contact Tax AID DABC to see if we can help. 

  • In Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley, Contact: Tax Aid, Disability Alliance BC, located in Vancouver. Phone: (604) 872-1278, Toll Free: 1-800-663-1278 or email: taxaid@disabilityalliancebc.org 
  • On Vancouver Island contact Together Against Poverty Society, located in Victoria.  Phone: (250) 361-3521 or email: tax@tapsbc.ca
  • In the Interior contact Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, located in Kelowna. Phone: (250) 763-4950 or email: taxdisability@kfs.bc.ca
  • In Northern BC contact Active Support Against Poverty Society, located in Prince George. Phone: (250) 563-6112, Toll Free: 1-877-563-6122 or email: taxaid@asaphs.com

 

How do I use Auto-fill my return?

Do you want do your own taxes? No problem.

Auto-fill my return is a secure Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) service that allows individuals and authorized representatives using certified software to automatically fill in parts of a 2017, 2016 and 2015 income tax and benefit return with information that the CRA has available at the time of filing the return.

To use the Auto-fill my return service, you must:

DABC Tax Aid team will host “Income Tax DIY (do-it-yourself)for people with disabilities and their families” workshops in this fall. More detail will be followed soon.

Tax AID DABC Expansion

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Our sincere thanks to Minister Shane Simpson and the Province of BC who announced today their funding support for the expansion of our Tax AID program. We will now provide direct services in partnership with the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society in Kelowna, Together Against Poverty Society in Victoria, and Active Support Against Poverty Society in Prince George.

To learn more, please visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018SDPR0037-000829 or read this article.

Tackling Taxes – Make Sure You Get the Benefits You’re Entitled To!

As of February 26, 2018, the Canada Revenue Agency has opened up online filing of personal income tax returns for the 2017 tax year. There are lots of reasons to file your taxes, even if you have a low income.  Keeping up-to-date on your tax returns gives you access to benefits and services such as:

  • GST Credits and the BC Low Income Climate Action Tax Credit;
  • Child Tax Benefits
  • Registered Disability Savings Plan Grants and Bonds, and;
  • Other income tested programs including subsidized housing and MSP Premium Assistance coverage.

There are several great free tax filing options available if you have a simple tax situation.  Many communities in BC have free tax clinics.  The CRA keeps a list of volunteer tax filing clinics on its website at:
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/vlntr/clncs/bc-eng.html.

Do you cringe at the thought of preparing your tax return?  If so, Tax Aid DABC may be able to help!  We can file up to 10 years of simple tax returns for people who receive provincial disability benefits (PWD or PPMB), no matter where in BC they live.  We can also provide information about and assistance accessing the Disability Tax Credit for anyone in BC who would be eligible to open the Registered Disability Savings Plan if they are approved for the Disability Tax Credit.

Are you comfortable using a computer? If so, you can prepare and file your tax return yourself using one of the multiple income tax preparation programs available.  One option we like is Simple Tax (https://simpletax.ca/) a by-donation service that you can access through an internet browser. We’ve produced a handy help sheet in several languages about how to file your return using this program.  You can find it on our website: www.disabilityalliancebc.org.

We’re here to help you access the tax benefits you are entitled to.  If you or someone you know receives PWD or PPMB benefits and needs help catching up on filing their income taxes, contact Tax AID DABC at: taxaid@disabilityalliancebc.org or call (604) 872-1278 or toll free at: 1-800-663-1278.

New Website for the Canada Revenue Agency

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has recently informed Disability Alliance BC that it will soon move its web presence to Canada.ca.  It has provided the following message:

“In 2013, as part of its commitment to better serve citizens and businesses, the Government of Canada launched the Web Renewal Initiative (WRI) to make its online information and services easier to find and use through a single, user-centric website – Canada.ca. The WRI is led by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Service Canada.

As part of the WRI, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will be joining Canada.ca this July. As of July 11, 2017, all information concerning taxes, benefits, and charities will be moving to Canada.ca.

Moving forward, the majority of CRA’s content will be located on the Taxes theme. The remaining content will be found on:

Those accessing the CRA website will be automatically redirected to Canada.ca. This will be in place for one year to ensure that Canadians are taken to the appropriate page on Canada.ca, and that they will have sufficient time to update their bookmarks. If any of your webpages link to the CRA website, please ensure that the links are updated accordingly.

Canadians will have a consistent user experience on Canada.ca. This new site is organized by 15 themes and top tasks (most frequently used information and services), making it easier for Canadians to find information and services.”

This message is also available in French:

“En vue de son engagement à mieux servir les particuliers et les entreprises, le gouvernement du Canada a lancé, en 2013, son Initiative de renouvellement du Web (IRW). Cette initiative vise à rendre les renseignements et services gouvernementaux en ligne plus faciles à trouver et à utiliser grâce au site Web unique centré sur l’utilisateur Canada.ca. Le Secrétariat du Conseil du Trésor du Canada et Service Canada dirigent l’IRW.

Dans le cadre de l’IRW, l’Agence du revenu du Canada (ARC) transfèrera son contenu vers Canada.ca en juillet. À compter du 11 juillet 2017, on publiera tous les renseignements sur l’impôt, les prestations et les organismes de bienfaisance sur Canada.ca.

À l’avenir, la majorité du contenu de l’ARC se trouvera sur la page du thème Impôts. Le reste figurera aux endroits suivants :

Pendant un an, les internautes qui accéderont au site Web de l’ARC seront redirigés vers Canada.ca de façon automatique. Ils pourront ainsi consulter les pages adéquates sur Canada.ca et auront le temps de mettre leurs favoris à jour. Si vos pages Web comportent des liens vers le site de l’ARC, veuillez mettre ces liens à jour en conséquence.

Les Canadiens vivront une expérience uniforme sur Canada.ca. Le nouveau site, divisé en 15 thèmes et tâches principales (services et renseignements les plus populaires), aidera les Canadiens à trouver facilement des renseignements et services.”

One Million Dollars in Tax Benefits and Counting…

Since DABC’s Tax Aid Program began in 2015, our Tax Advocates have had the pleasure of helping over 480 individual clients access over $1,039,000.00 in tax-related benefits.  Many of our clients receive between $300 and $500 per tax return, with those who have dependent children receiving even more.  Are you missing out on tax benefits because you haven’t filed your tax returns in a while?

We can file up to 10 years of simple personal tax returns for people living anywhere in BC who receive PWD or PPMB benefits, and often when there are additional sources of income such as employment income, pension income etc.

Together with our partners at Plan Institute and BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, we can provide information and assistance to clients who want to apply for the Disability Tax Credit so they can open a Registered Disability Savings Plan.  If you open a Registered Disability Savings Plan within or before the calendar year you turn 49, you may qualify for thousands of dollars in free grants and bonds from the Federal Government, to help you save for later life.  To access any grants and bonds you are entitled to, it is essential to be up to date on your tax returns.

We’re here to help you access some of the tax benefits you may be entitled to.  If you or someone you know who receives PWD or PPMB benefits needs help catching up on filing their income taxes, contact Tax AID DABC at: taxaid@disabilityalliance.org or call (604) 872-1278 or toll free at: 1 800 663-1278.

 

New Tax AID DABC publications

Thanks to funding from The Vancouver Foundation and assistance from MOSAIC, we have translated Help Sheet #16: Guide to Filing Income Taxes for People Receiving PWD/PPMB and our Tax AID DABC brochure into five different languages.

The languages are:

  • Chinese Simplified
  • Chinese Traditional
  • Persian
  • Punjabi
  • Spanish

You can download them on our Online Resources page, or contact Val at 604-875-0188 or feedback@disabilityalliancebc.org if you would like copies mailed to you.

Community Update: Changes to Disability Tax Credit Certificate

Several changes were recently made to the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) Certificate which is used to apply for the DTC.


New Address for DTC Applications

One significant change is that residents of BC are now instructed to send their DTC applications to the Winnipeg Tax Centre.  Previously BC residents were instructed to send these applications to the Surrey Tax Centre.  The Winnipeg Tax Centre address is:

Winnipeg Tax Centre
66 Stapon Road
Winnipeg MB R3C 3M2

We have some concerns that this change will create inconvenience or confusion for people applying for the DTC.  However, we also hope that centralizing the review of DTC applications will result in better and more consistent administration of the DTC over time.

Shorter “Effects of Impairment” Section
The section “Effects of Impairment” on page 5 has also been significantly shortened.  This is the only section of the DTC where substantive information about the impacts of a person’s disability can be provided and is very important to establish DTC eligibility.  We remind applicants and their doctors that they have the right to attach additional sheets of paper to the application if there is insufficient space in that section to explain the effects of their disabilities.

Other Changes
In addition to these changes there have been a number of other changes to the application including new language in the section for applicants applying under the “Life-sustaining Therapy” category.
The DTC application form can be downloaded from the Canada Revenue Agency website (link) or requested through 1-800-959-8281.
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DABC now provides help and support to apply for the DTC to people in BC who are eligible for the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) through our Access RDSP initiative.  We thank the Vancouver Foundation for their generous funding of this work as well as our partner organizations Plan Institute and the BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society.  For more information about the DTC and the RDSP please feel free to contact us at 604-872-1278 or toll free at 1-800-663-1278.