The previous post outlined the absurd policies of the Autism Funds Unit (AFU) when it comes to material funding. There are only two logical explanations for such bizarre rules:
- The government bureaucracy is trying to justify its existence and maintain a large workforce or
- They are trying to ensure that you don’t spend your funds which are then returned to the government and undoubtedly used for bonuses for the department heads who underspend their budgets.
OK, so why bother using material funding at all? Most people will easily fill their yearly funding allowance with behaviour intervention for their child.
One reason is if you are on a shoestring budget and simply have no money left for autism therapy, then you must somehow manage the yearly autism funds to cover intervention, training and materials.
The majority of us spend well in excess of the available autism funds. In this case you are better off to claim the maximum allowable ($1,200 or $4,400) for material funding. The reason is that funds spent out of your pocket for intervention can be used as a medical expense on your annual income tax. This could result in a refund as much as 20% of the total depending on your income level. Money spent on material goods in support of an autism therapy program are ineligible as a medical expense (Yes, this has been tested in the Tax Court of Canada).
So what can you use your funds for? It’s a bit of a challenge to spend your entitlement, but here are some ideas:
- Flash cards
- Reinforcement toys
- General supplies such as pens, pencils, paper, binders, clips, staples
- Printer supplies
- One computer or iPad or Touch Screen device every three years
- CDs or DVDs relating to the therapy program
- Travel to and from autism intervention (round trip greater than 80 kms) or training
- Autism conferences
- Computer programs (remember to justify their use) such as Microsoft Office or autism specific programs
- iPad apps (again justify their use)
- Arts and crafts
- Membership for the Canucks Autism Network
If you know of any other items that can be claimed, please let us know in the comments section.
There is no reason why your purchases must be made in Canada. With all the high priced help in the Autism Funds Unit, I’m sure they can calculate exchange rates.
Nothing in the AFU guidance indicates that the purchase must be a new product. As long as you have a proper receipt, I see no reason that the purchase can’t be “pre-owned”.
- Tips for managing material funding