Thursday, 17 January 2013

Tax Info to Know and Share

I'll start by saying I'm not a tax expert but this is something I think all diagnosed families should know.

Canada's Disability Tax Credit is something you want to look into if you've had a child diagnosed with autism.

It qualifies you for a lot of the government programs and allows you to claim your child's therapy as a medical expense on your income tax.  Autism is expensive and while the refund won't change that, every bit helps.

You have to have a doctor fill out the form.  If your family doctor is uncooperative, talk to the doctor/psychologist who did the assessment and gave you the diagnosis.  The form covers the level of impairment and intervention required for daily life.  To qualify, the impairment has to have existed or be expected to exist for 12 months.  Even if your child was just diagnosed, they are considered to have been autistic from birth.  So you can apply for this year and ask to have your previous years re-evaluated.

The one thing you need to do is keep your receipts.  Every receipt for therapy and intervention, buying special equipment, the fees for doctors to fill out forms.  It makes for a lot of paper, but CRA will insist on seeing it.  We've been audited every year after filing our taxes and every year we drop a one inch thick stack of paper on their desks to prove we have spent a significant portion of our income helping our children.

Another note, you will have to keep all those receipts for seven years in case CRA ever decides to look at them.  We bought a filing cabinet and it was wise decision for keeping our paperwork straight.

There is a whole list of things you can claim.  It ranges from the cost of caring for a service animal, ambulance trips, special equipment, gluten-free foods, moving expenses (if you have to relocate to be closer to services), medical tests, etc.  They all need receipts.

A lot of these things require a prescription.  Check the list and make sure it's the most recent copy.  While this is the most up-to-date currently available, CRA may put out an updated version as we get closer to tax time.

You can also claim dental services, prescription drugs and medical expenses for the whole family, not just your child.  If you and/or your spouse go into therapy to deal with the strain and anxiety, that's claimable. 

Only one person can claim the entire medical expense, so it makes sense to figure out who gets the most reimbursement by claiming it.

It's a pain keeping track of all the paper but it's worth it to have that little extra bit of respite.  (And it was funny to watch the auditor's expression when we dropped the stack of paper on his desk.  Clearly, he was not used to prepared families and had been ready to intimidate and threaten.)

The government may not have done as much as it should have to help our children.  But this is one area they got right.

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