Apply Now For The DTC And Collect $600

The federal government has just introduced Bill C-20 which will give everyone who is eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) $600. This money is non-taxable and will be sent automatically to anyone who qualifies.

What if my Child does not qualify for the DTC?

You will have 60 days following royal assent (which should be coming very shortly) to apply for the DTC and receive the payment. The processing time for the DTC will likely be longer than 60 days but you only need to submit the application in time.

What if we are still waiting for the Provincial Autism Assessment?

The criteria to qualify for the federal DTC is not the same as qualifying for provincial benefits. Please read my guide Autism and the T2201 for more detailed information.

Are there any traps I should be aware of?

The T2201 will need to be signed by a qualified practitioner. I would not recommend your family doctor as it is a specialized form. Most doctors will not know how to correctly complete the form for a child with autism. Once again, please read my guide Autism and the T2201 for more information. Make your appointment now! Do not delay the process.

Do not mail in your application. Use the CRA My Account to submit your application and avoid postal delays.

COVID-19 Special

This COVID update has been slow in coming. I wanted to do something other than tell you to wash your hands. Sadly, there is little to report.  MCFD as usual continues to underwhelm us.

They have refused to let the AFU funds transition to the next funding year except in limited cases . It is frustrating to lose out on therapy for your child because you cannot get a Consultant or BI to come into your home.

They have allowed the material funds to go as high as 35% of your annual funds. The deadline of 30 June 2020 for this allowance is quickly approaching.

Autism Funding may now be used for family counselling .

MCFD has some emergency funding available but good luck contacting your social worker.

What should you do if you are just starting out and are not yet receiving autism funds?

The wait time for Sunnyhill is increasing by the day. The latest estimate is 65 weeks from the BCANN website. Your actual wait will be much longer as the COVID-19 restrictions continue to add to the backlog.

I would strongly suggest booking a private assessment. The cost of waiting for a public assessment may be huge in terms of loss of time critical therapy and lost autism funding (i.e. no assessment – no autism funding). Please check with other families in your community or Facebook groups for the best practitioners in your area. The Autism Support Network has a superb Parent Facebook group where you can ask these and many other questions.

AutismBC has a webinar “Waiting for Assessment” which has tons of great information. The cost is free! Sign up as a new member (this is also free!) to get notified of upcoming events.

The Autism Support Network has some outstanding YouTube videos  which are a must view for families with a new diagnosis.

What should you do if you are in receipt of autism funds?

Spend as much as you can on materials if you are unable to spend your funds on therapy due to COVID-19. The Autism Funding Program will allow you to purchase a computer or iPad once every 3 years. For detailed insight into what you may purchase using Autism Funding, consider joining the excellent AFU Families Facebook group.

Some of our kids respond well to online schooling and therapy sessions and others not so much. If your child is high needs and requires in-person sessions the Autism Support Network has some guidelines to follow. For a more comprehensive guide to ABA sessions during the current pandemic, refer to the BC-ABA resources page.

Does your child qualify for the Disability Tax Credit?

If so, the federal government will be sending you an extra $600 . When will it arrive? Who knows, but we will be happy to receive it when it does come.

If your child does not qualify for the DTC, now is a good time as ever to get started on the process. Consult my file Autism and the T2201 for a detailed look at how to get started.

My 2019 RDSP Report Card

Last year, my son’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) had a rate of return of 14.4%.

Is that a fluke?

No, not really. In fact it’s in line with the industry benchmark. My portfolio is based on the Canadian Couch Potato TD e-Series model portfolio . Last year, the model portfolio returned 14.8%.

It’s important to look at the long term picture. We opened the RDSP in 2013. The rate of return from then to the end of 2019 is 7.2%.

And we care because……?

I have talked with too many parents who think investing in an RDSP is complicated and a professional is needed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone can manage RDSP investments without paying for a financial advisor or having any investment knowledge. All you have to do is setup a low cost portfolio (such as the one linked above), add money every year, let the government add the grants and bonds and in the long run, you will be well ahead of those who pay too much for financial advice.

Distributed Learning – Take 2

By far the most popular article on this website was a guest post by Vicki Parnell about Distributed Learning.

The comments and questions have continued over the years and Vicki has graciously answered every one. It’s now time for a short update from Vicki:

Update, February 2020:

The response to this article has been astonishing – almost 7 years later, I continue to receive emails from parents who have found my guest blog and have questions about DL learning. I’m so glad that other parents have been able to find a starting point for exploring school options they may not have known about in the past.

My own children have now finished their public school educations. One graduated from EBUS and benefited from an additional transition year there; the other moved back into the bricks-and-mortar school system (where he received excellent support from his high school’s resource teaching staff). He graduated last year.

Because I no longer have current experience with the DL system, if you have questions about this topic I would encourage you to join Facebook, where there are a number of active communities of parents who are involved in the DL and home learning experience. For example, this group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/385597354924709/

 “BC Parents and Service Providers of Special Needs DL and Homeschoolers” is very active and has almost 2500 members on the date I’m writing this update. There you can talk to families whose knowledge of the DL system is much more up to date than mine! 

Some of the information in my original blog is out of date (not surprising as it is now 7 years since I collected the information).  Keep in mind that the best source of information about your DL options is always the DLs themselves!

Combine Your Child Care Expenses

Did you know you may combine all the allowable child care expenses for your family and use them for only one child?

Neither did I! I cannot believe that in all the years of giving tax advice, I did not know this.

Let’s walk through an example:

Your family has 3 children: Robert 15, Adrian 13 and Deborah age 11. Deborah also qualifies for the Disability Tax Credit. The family limit for Child Care Expenses is $21,000 ($5,000 + $5,000 + $11,000). Visit TaxTips.ca for a detailed breakdown of what each child may claim.

Robert and Adrian hang with friends after school and do not need child care. Deborah has very high needs and must be supervised at all times. In this case, the family may claim up to $21,000 annually for Deborah’s child care.

Child Care Expenses are a tax deduction rather than a tax credit, so this is potentially more valuable to the family in question. Please read my page Child Care Expenses for more information.

Many thanks to Jamie Golombek of the Financial Post for bringing this to our attention.

Claim Private School Tuition as a Medical Expense

Did you know that school tuition may be claimed as a medical expense?

If your child qualifies for the Disability Tax Credit because of a mental or physical impairment and you need the equipment, facilities, or staff specially provided by that place for persons with the same type of impairments, you may claim the entire amount as a medical expense.

If your child does not qualify for the Disability Tax Credit, all is not lost. An appropriately qualified person may certify in writing the school is necessary for the reasons listed in the previous paragraph. The appropriately qualified person may be a medical practitioner, principal of the school or the head of the institution or other place.

Save Those Summer Camp Receipts!

Summer Camps receipts may be used for the Child Care tax deduction so hang on to them!

Refresh my memory.  What is the Child Care Tax Deduction?

If you pay someone to care for your child so you can earn an income or go to school, you may be able to deduct these costs from your total income. This is often more valuable than a simple tax credit.  For more information refer to my page Child Care Expenses.

As a reminder, the lower income spouse may claim up to $11,000 per child if they qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). In addition, the normal age limit of 16 does not apply assuming the child is dependent on you or your spouse.

What summer camp receipts are eligible?

Day camps and day sports school may be claimed in their entirety towards your Child Care limit.  Overnight camps on the other hand may only be claimed up to a maximum of $275 per week, if your child qualifies for the DTC.

You may also claim caregivers providing child care services, day nursery and day child care centers.

Anything else?

Remember if someone else pays the bills (i.e. the Autism Funds Unit) you cannot claim it as an expense.

Ontario – How Bad Is It?

I dare you to read the following article and not get mad.

https://medium.com/@MikePMoffatt/one-dads-experience-raising-two-wonderful-children-on-the-spectrum-c92babddcc96

This article was written about an upper middle class family. Imagine a single parent household with two or more kids on the autism spectrum.

File A Tax Return For Your Teenager

Your teenager earns nothing so logically you do not need to file a tax return. Right? Not so fast.

We discussed in previous posts why the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is the best way to save for your child’s future. The key element to the plan is the government grants and bonds (free money!) which is added to the account. The amount added is dependent on the family income.

If the beneficiary of the RDSP is over the age of 18, the “family net income” used to calculate the government grants/bonds is that of the beneficiary and his/her spouse. The income that will determine the grant and bond is based on the income tax return from the second preceding year. (Example: Contribution made in 2019 – net income based on the 2017 tax year.)

In other words, to ensure your child receives the maximum entitled grant and bond, file a tax return when he/she turns 17 (even though the income may be low or even non-existent) so that the grant and bond will be based on his/her low income status.

RDSP Statement of Grant Entitlement

Soon you will receive your annual Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) Statement of Grant Entitlement in the mail. For those of us too tired to calculate our annual contributions, the government does it for us. Of course this assume that you have an RDSP in the first place. For those of you who do not have an RDSP, I ask why not? Are you new to the world of autism or do you not like receiving free money from the government?

The RDSP letter will show what contribution you need to make to attract the maximum grant and/or bond for 2019.

I love to hate the government, but this really is a nice touch. They are all but begging to give you money.  

You could deposit more money than required to attract the maximum grant, but for most families I recommend limiting their contributions. There is a lifetime maximum contribution limit and once that is filled, there can be no further government grants.  

You can get more information about the RDSP from my website or RDSP.com.

My 2018 RDSP Report Card

Last year, my son’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) had a rate of return of -2.2%.

Is that bad?

No, not really. In fact it’s in line with the industry benchmark. My portfolio is based on the Canadian Couch Potato TD e-Series model portfolio . Last year, the model portfolio returned -2.1%.

It’s important to look at the long term picture. We opened the RDSP in 2013. The rate of return from then to the end of 2018 is 5.5%.

And we care because……?

The point is that anyone can manage RDSP investments without paying for a financial advisor or having any investment knowledge. All you have to do is setup a low cost portfolio (such as the one linked above), add money every year, let the government add the grants and bonds and in the long run, you will be well ahead of those who pay too much for financial advice.

How to get an iPad when you can’t afford it

How  many of you tried to buy an iPad (or other expensive device) using the 20% equipment budget from your BC Autism Funding? You had to:

  • Send in a Justification Form signed by your Consultant
  • Wait for approval
  • Buy the device
  • Submit a Reimbursement for Autism Expenses form
  • Wait for the funds from the BC government

That’s fine for those who can afford to pay upfront and wait for reimbursement, but it leaves the others in a Catch 22 situation.  The result is that the families who most need the device simply can’t purchase it.

Now there is a solution using London Drugs throughout B.C. You will need to follow these steps:

  • Get your Consultant to fill out a Justification for Equipment (JFE) form specifying the model number from London Drugs.
  • Send the form to the Autism Funding Unit (AFU).
  • Wait for the AFU to send a confirmation letter.
  • Fill out the RTP – Service Providers/Suppliers form.
  • Take the RTP and authorization letter to London Drugs and try to find a manager who knows about this program. You may have to try different locations or call London Drugs headquarters for help.
  • The manager will fill out Part B of the form and send it to the AFU.
  • The family will get a message that their computer/iPad is ready for pick up.

I have been told that the entire process will take about three months. If you have difficulty finding a London Drugs store that understands the process, I understand the Cloverdale and South Surrey stores are very accommodating.

Note that the AFU will only allow you to get a new device once every three years.  You can also expect push back if the device you select is too expensive (at least according to the AFU). How much is too expensive?  That is a good question and one that I don’t have an answer to.

Also, please do not use school as a reason for buying the device as the AFU will not approve this.  Your Consultant should be aware of the appropriate words to use.

OK, so that is all a bit exhausting and time consuming, but at least there is now an option for those that need it.

 

10 Years On

Ten years ago, I created a simple website to share my experience with other parents.  I had one aim; show you how the heck to pay for autism therapy without sounding like a bureaucrat.

Nobody else wants to make this easy for you.  We have governments, school districts and bureaucrats who continually create more paperwork and barriers for you, the parent on the front line.

No my child doesn't look

What has changed?

We now have a website!!!  The AFU now has an online portal.  Yippee!

What hasn’t changed?

The money.  We had one minor increase in BC autism funding in 2010. Meanwhile the government is content to ignore inflation and minimum wage increases each year, leaving our children with a smaller piece of the pie. The good people at AutismBC did some research and found the $6,000 funding from 2002 would now need to be $8,017 to address inflation.  The $20,000 funding from 2002 needs to be $29,400 (rather than the current $22,000) to keep pace with inflation.

It doesn’t seem to matter which party is in power in Victoria.  They feel our pain and show their outrage while in opposition and then do nothing when they are in power.

Has anything good happened?

The heartless Harper government gave us the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) which is seriously the best thing that has ever happened for your child’s financial future. If you don’t have one, please check it out at the earliest possible opportunity. If you don’t have anything in your bank account, don’t worry as the government wants to give you free money.

Meanwhile, the caring Trudeau government is sitting on a policy resolution passed two years ago by their own party members to include science based treatment under Medicare. The resolution can be read here.  Please contact your Federal Member of Parliament and ask why this resolution is being ignored.

What is happening at ASDfunding.com?

The site has gone through 2 major redesigns, an online comment section has been added and the site is now friendly for handheld devices. Meanwhile I continue to receive many emails from parents telling me about their experiences.  I can’t begin to tell you how much this is appreciated as I use all the information to refine the website and keep it relevant for parents new to the world of autism.

Thank you for your continued support.  May the next ten years show more progress than the past decade.

Milburn

Finally! Online Access to the AFU

Families have been complaining for years that they did not have timely access to their child’s autism funding.  Some unscrupulous therapists have taken advantage of this fact to extract more funding than the families intended.

The Autism Funding Unit (AFU) has now joined the 21st century. Finally, families can:

  • View and manage their child’s funding
  • View and edit approved authorizations and
  • Submit forms online

The procedure to sign up is only slightly painful.

  • First, you need to sign up for a Basic BCeID 
  • Ensure the parent signing up has signing authority for the autism funding
  • Next, sign up for My Family Services
  • After the AFU gives their approval, you will be able to log into My Family Services.

On the My Family Services dashboard, you will be able to access and manage your child’s autism funding.

The Canada Caregiver Amount

The Family Caregiver Amount has now been incorporated into the Canada Caregiver Amount. It is a good move on the part of the feds as it was an admittedly confusing credit. The different names led people to wonder if they should claim more than one caregiver credit.

The Canada Caregiver Amount is for people who have a spouse or common-law partner, or a dependant with an impairment in physical or mental functions. They now share a common name but you will claim the credit on different lines in your tax return:

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 dependant 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 dependant under 18 years of age at the end of the year, you may be entitled to claim an amount of $2,150 on line 367 or in the calculation of line 305.

If you have more than one child with an impairment in mental or physical functions, you may claim $2,150 for each of them.

Note that unlike other credits discussed on this site, you do not necessarily need an approved T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate to claim this.

You must have a signed statement from a medical doctor showing when the impairment began and what the duration of the impairment is expected to be. For children under 18 years of age, the statement should also show that the child, because of an impairment in physical or mental functions, is dependent on others for an indefinite duration. This dependence means they need much more assistance for their personal needs and care compared to children of the same age. For your convenience, there is a sample letter on my Files page, which you can complete before the doctor’s appointment and present to him/her for a signature.

A doctor’s letter is not required if the child has an approved Form T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate from the CRA for the specified period.

 

BC Home Renovation Credit

Last year I wrote about the Federal Home Accessibility Tax Credit and neglected to mention that BC also has a Home Renovation Tax Credit.

The BC Home Renovation Tax Credit originally was for seniors, but as of 2016 it was extended to families with a member who qualifies for the Disability Tax Credit. Eligible renovations include work done after Feb 16, 2016 to:

  • improve access to the home or land,
  • improve mobility and functions within the home or land, or
  • reduce the risk of harm within the home or land.

The credit is worth 10% of the renovation cost to a maximum value of $1,000 for $10,000 worth of renovation costs.

Can you claim this in addition to the federal Home Accessibility Tax Credit?

Yup! Just to be clear, you may claim the same receipts for:

  • The federal Home Accessibility Tax Credit ($10,000 x 15%)
  • The BC Home Renovation Credit ($10,000 x 10%) and
  • A medical expense tax credit (with both federal and provincial components), although this is only for mobility issues

Can we claim this credit for 2016 if we have already filed our return?

Yup! Use the form T1-ADJ which is a simple one page form to claim this credit.

How do I claim this?

Visit Home Renovation Tax Credit for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities for more information.

T2201 Guide Version 4 Released

Form T2201 is the linchpin for The Disability Tax Credit (DTC). I cannot begin to describe how important this form is to our families.  Unfortunately some new political realities are making it more difficult for families to apply.

A successful filing of the form T2201 will set your family up to apply for:

  • The Disability Tax Credit
  • The Child Disability Benefit
  • The Home Buyers Amount
  • Additional qualifying medical expenses
  • Home Accessibility Tax Credit and
  • Most importantly, the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)

It appears that the rejection rate is on the rise.  We have all seen the news stories of families being rejected for the DTC, even if they have previously qualified. At first I thought this was simply a few families who did not fully complete their forms, but it looks like it going well beyond that.

Does This Mean You Shouldn’t Apply?

No!

It does mean that you need to be even more careful about how the form is completed and how your case is presented.

As one of my favorite bloggers (Big Canjun Man at the Canadian Personal Finance Blog) likes to point out; “If you don’t apply, you will never get the Disability Tax Credit”.

The updated T2201 Guide is available for download here. There is some additional guidance how far back the disability can be back dated as well as how to deal with the changing political climate. I strongly recommend that you read the document completely before sending it to the government.  It is so much easier to deal with issues now rather than following a rejection.

Navigating services for your child with Autism is like juggling shape-shifting porcupines.  It's not easy, and you encounter a lot of pricks.

 

My 2017 RDSP Report Card

Last year my Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) returned 8.2% and had an average rate of return of 7.9% since 2013.

Why is this important and why should you care?

The number of institutions offering the RDSP is rather limited.  Many of the banks that do offer the RDSP restrict the allowable investments to in-house products which either have very low yields or very high investment fees.

TD Direct Investing is one of the few banks which allow a self-directed account with few restrictions on the investment options.  I’m no investing genius, but I know enough that fees matter.  TD e series funds have a very low management fee and I follow the Canadian Couch Potato Balanced Portfolio recommendations.

I’m sure some of you investing geniuses can do much better, but if you are stuck with some lackluster products you may wish to consider this approach.

Read RDSP – Change of Financial Institution to see how I made the change.

Did You Buy A New Home?

First time home buyers can claim a $5,000 tax credit, but what if this is not your first home?

  • Do you have a family member who qualifies for the Disability Tax Credit?
  • Is the new home more accessible to the individual or
  • Is it better suited to their needs?

If so, you qualify for the Home Buyers Amount even if this is not your first home. The $5,000 tax credit translates into $750 in your pocket.  Not bad eh?

For more information consult CRA – Home Buyers’ Amount

What if I purchased a home previously and forgot to claim it?

No problem!  That’s what the form T1-ADJ form is for.  It’s a simple one page form that my 8 year old could fill out.

 

 

The Demise of the Fitness and Arts Credit

In case you hadn’t noticed, the September 2017 BC Budget has put the final nail in the coffin for the Fitness and Arts Tax Credit.

The federal government had withdrawn these tax credits in 2016, but BC hung on with their provincial component. 2017 is now the last tax year that you will be able to claim the Fitness Tax Credit and the Arts Tax Credit (along with the $500 bonus for disabled kids).

Don’t get too excited about these credits.  If you somehow manage to claim the maximum amount ($500 plus the $500 disability bonus) you will only save $50 on your taxes.  Certainly worth doing, but hardly a windfall.

In reality these credits are only valuable to those who are back dating their tax credits for previous years.

Milburn’s Excellent Guide to Back Dating Disability Credits

So what are we talking about here?

Most of the federal tax credits that I describe on my website are based on the foundation of eligibility of the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). This is granted by the government after a successful filing of the T2201 form.

I will warn you that this is a long post.  If you are not interested in getting a substantial amount of money from the government, please stop reading now! On the other hand if you are like most humans and you like money, read on and I will provide you with some simple solutions.

Many people are unaware that the tax credits in question begin not on the day the DTC is granted, but rather the effective date, which may be many years in the past or ideally birth. Of course, as readers of my website, you obviously consulted my T2201 guide and ensured that birth was the effective date of the disability.  You did read the guide…right? If you were unaware of this, you can certainly re-apply for the DTC with updated information using the form T2201.

Once the DTC eligibility is in hand, many of the tax credits can be back dated to the effective date of the disability, but in most cases, you have to ask for it.

So, one by one, here are some of the tax credits that you can have back dated.  Please don’t dismiss this as too hard.  The process is very easy and can add up to a substantial amount of money. You can do it with only a couple of hours work and the payout can in some cases be worth tens of thousands of dollars of after tax money. Hey, I would love to get a job that pays $5,000 per hour.  Wouldn’t you?

The Disability Tax Credit

This is the only tax credit which can be back dated automatically on request.  The new T2201 form has an election (in other words…tick the box) to have the government automatically calculate the amount for you.  Why it is an election is beyond me.  Why wouldn’t someone want the the government to send them a pile of money?  The DTC is presently worth about $2,300. Multiply that by the years owing and that could turn into a lot of coin.

The Child Disability Benefit

Once you qualify for the DTC, the government will automatically calculate a back dated amount for the current and two previous tax years.  Prior to those years, you will have to make a request. To make this request is dead simple.  Write a letter to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and ask that they back date this benefit to the effective date of the DTC.  It’s just that simple!

At over $2,700 per year for a low income household, this tax free benefit can add up dramatically.

Medical Expenses

All those years of tutoring or therapy can now be claimed.  Use the T1-ADJ form to make the request.  It’s a simple one page form with no calculations required. Make sure you include receipts and invoices to back this up. Refer to https://asdfunding.com/medical-expenses/ for more information.

Attendant Care Expenses

A sub-section of Medical Expenses which may include hiring a nanny for your child. Refer to https://asdfunding.com/medical-expenses/ for more information.

Fitness and Arts Tax Credit

Even though the federal government has phased out it’s program, you can still claim expenses from years past using the T1-ADJ form.  Remember that for each year of DTC eligibility, the government will add $500 to the total just because you have a disabled child. Receipts are required if you have not already submitted them. Refer to https://asdfunding.com/other-tax-credits/ for more information.

Child Care Expenses

You did hang on to your receipts from years past, right?  If so, you can now claim up to $10,000 per child eligible for the DTC. Again the T1-ADJ form is the one to use. Refer to https://asdfunding.com/childcare/ for more information.

Canada Caregiver Amount

The Canada Caregiver Amount (which now incorporates the Family Caregiver Amount) can be back dated to 2012 (the inception of the credit) or the effective date of the DTC, whichever is later.  No receipts are required and again the T1-ADJ form is used. Refer to https://asdfunding.com/other-tax-credits/ for more information.

Home Buyers Amount

Normally this is for first time home buyers, but if you purchased a home for the benefit of someone who qualifies for the DTC, then you may be eligible for this $5,000 tax credit. The purchase must be made to allow this person to live in a home that is more accessible or better suited to their needs. Once again, use the T1-ADJ form. Refer to https://asdfunding.com/other-tax-credits/ for more information

Home Accessibility Tax Credit

If you had home renovations in 2016 for the benefit of someone who qualifies for the DTC, you may claim up to $10,000 of expenses.  Refer to this post for more information.  Once again use the T1-ADJ.

Receipts

Receipts must be supplied to back up your claims for the following credits/deductions:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Attendant Care Expenses
  • Fitness Tax Credit
  • Arts Tax Credit
  • Home Accessibility Tax Credit
  • Home Buyers Amount
  • Child Care Expenses

Normally when filing a tax return, you would not include receipts, but rather hold on to them in case CRA asks for them.  In this case as you are filing for past credits, you must include them in your letter.  Make sure that they are broken down by year and category.  It should go without saying, but if you don’t have the receipts, don’t claim the credit.

Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)

OK, so this is a little bit different than the tax credits referred to above, but no less valuable. The RDSP grants and bonds from the government (read that as free money) can be back dated to the effective date of the DTC.  All you have to do, is open the RDSP.  The Disability Savings Bond (up to $1,000 per year) will automatically be back dated. To receive back dated Government Saving Grants, you will have to make appropriate contributions to the account.

That sounds like way too much work!

I agree! Two hours of work to receive thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars is completely unreasonable. Fortunately, Milburn has created an easier solution for you!

It turns out that you don’t actually have to use the form T1-ADJ.  You can just write a letter instead.  Too much work still?  No problem! I have created a template letter in docx format that you can download here and send to the CRA.  You’re welcome!

Anything Else?

For God’s sake don’t pay anyone to do this for you.  So called “Disability Agencies” will charge you an exorbitant amount to do what you can easily do yourself.  Don’t even call them for a quote, unless you enjoy being harassed to use their services.

What next?

Once you have completed all of the above, there are three very important steps that you must do:

  1. Firstly, congratulate yourself for being so clever.
  2. Secondly, go out and celebrate your good fortune.
  3. Thirdly, post your experience on whatever parent message board you are using.  Let other parents know how valuable this is and encourage them to do the same.

Leisure Access Program

The Leisure Access Program (LAP) has been around in various forms for a while now.  It is designed to allow low income families to access recreation programs at a reduced cost. The program is administered by your local city government and the rules and application procedures vary from district to district.

The City of Vancouver Leisure Access Program has taken a step forward by now allowing the entire family with a disabled child (up to the age of 17) to qualify for the LAP regardless of income. Hopefully other municipalities will follow Vancouver’s lead and open their programs to children with disabilities.

With summer quickly approaching, now would be a great time to contact your local recreation department and find out what is available in your area.

If you know of other districts that allow access to this program to kids with disabilities, could you please let us know in the comment section.

Want a free $150?

Do you have an Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) for your child? If not, why not? The RDSP is the most generous saving plan for your child’s future.  The federal government is itching to give you free money for your account.  The savvy parents know all about the matching grants and the bonds which can set you on the path to saving over a million dollars for your child’s financial future.

If that is not enough, you can get a free $150 thanks to the support of the Vancouver Foundation. It used to be that this free gift was only available to families with an income under $25,000. In order to encourage the uptake of the fabulous RDSP, they are now making this gift available to any child who:

  • Is under the age of 18,
  • Lives in B.C. and
  • Has an RDSP

For more information and the online application visit the Endowment 150 website.

If you have more than more child with an RDSP, each one is eligible for the Endowment $150 gift.

My RDSP Report Card

The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) for my child has performed well with a rate of return for 2016 of 5.5% and an average rate of return of 7.8% since 2012.

Why is this important and why should you care?

The RDSP is an incredibly valuable savings plan.  The federal government is ready to give you buckets of free money and you just have to be willing to accept it.

The financial institutions offering the RDSP unfortunately tend to limit the investment options to their “in-house” mutual funds and GICs, which have higher than average management fees.  I want to demonstrate that it is possible to invest wisely given the limited options available even if you have no investment experience.

How did I do it?

In 2012 I switched my child’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) from BMO to TD Waterhouse. I was fed up with the limited investment options at BMO and their outrageous pricing.

I decided that my investment choices would follow the recommendations of the Canadian Couch Potato using TD e-Series funds. For this account I chose the balanced approach.

I love the simplicity of the plan.

  • I make a contribution once a year
  • The government will advise you by letter of the contribution that will attract the maximum grant and bond.
  • Wait for the government to add their contribution.
  • Re-balance the account to the original asset allocation.
  • That’s it.  You are done for the year.

To make the switch refer to my post RDSP – Change of Financial Institution

Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with any financial institution. I believe you should get the best deal possible, but the prime objective should be to open an RDSP and start collecting free money from the government. If you are more comfortable at a different bank, then by all means go there.

Last Minute Tax Tips

Are you waiting for the last possible moment to file your taxes?  Welcome to the club.

As a quick reminder, remember to claim the following autism specific items on your taxes (assuming you have a valid Disability Tax Certificate):

Who should claim the credits?

Refer to this page for a quick refresher

Home Accessibility Tax Credit

Did you have home renovations during 2016 to:

  • Allow a qualified individual to gain access to, or to be mobile or functional within your dwelling, or
  • Reduce the risk of harm to the individual within the dwelling or in gaining access to the dwelling?

If so, you may be eligible to claim a tax credit (15%) on up to $10,000 worth of renovations. For more detailed information consult CRA – Line 398 Home Accessibility Expenses

Who is a qualified individual?

An individual who is eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) for 2016.

Who can claim this tax credit?

  • A qualified individual, or
  • An eligible individual (for our purposes, someone who is entitled to claim the disability amount for the qualifying individual)

What is an eligible dwelling?

A housing unit that is owned by the qualifying individual or by the eligible individual.

Eligible Expenses

  • Expenses are outlays made or incurred during the year that are directly attributed to a qualifying renovation and must be for work performed and/or goods acquired in the tax year.
  • For work performed by yourself, you may claim materials, plans, rentals and permits. You may not however claim your own labour or tools as expenses.
  • For work performed by a family member, the expenses are not eligible unless the person is registered for GST/HST.

What are some examples of work are applicable to a child with autism?

  • A fence to contain a child with elopement issues
  • Modifications to the structure to contain a violent or aggressive individual
  • Floors that may lessen the risk of injury

What can’t be claimed?

  • Maintenance
  • Appliances
  • Financing
  • Home entertainment systems
  • Renovations meant to increase the value of the home

Can you double dip?

YES! For those who qualify for renovation costs as a medical expense, both the Home Accessibility Tax Credit and the Medical Expense Tax Credit may be claimed for the same expense. Keep in mind however that the Medical Expense is only for those with mobility issues.

Can you triple dip?

Sure, why not? If you acquired the home for the benefit of a related person who is eligible for the DTC you may be able to claim $5,000 via the Home Buyers Amount even if it is not your first home. The stipulation is the home must be purchased to allow the person with the disability to live in a home that is more accessible or better suited to the needs of that person. Refer to CRA – Home Buyers Amount for more information.

Bill C-462 – Dead on Arrival

Tweet For those of you unaware Bill C-462 the Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Act ,was passed into law and received Royal Assent (2014-05-29) . Limits are needed for DTC Consultation Firms (link to CBC article on the act) This Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Act summary This enactment restricts the amount of fees that can…

via Bill C-462 : Protecting Disabled Canadians or a Paper Tiger ? — Canadian Personal Finance Blog

The Most Outrageous Consultants

Would you believe that some vulnerable clients are being charged up to $500 per month to be on Behaviour Consultant’s (BC) waitlists?  With no services delivered at all!

I thought I had heard it all, but now hearing of this has made my blood boil. How professionals could possibly take advantage of such vulnerable families (usually immigrant families with poor English skills) is beyond reprehensible.

Is it legal?

Sadly, yes. If a contract is signed and waiting fees are specified, then it is legal.

Is it ethical?

Unbelievably according to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) there is nothing about such fees that would trigger sanctioning of one of their members.

Is it right?

In my humble opinion this is disgraceful and unbecoming of a professional. Any Behaviour Consultant taking advantage of families like this should hang their heads in shame.

What Can You Do?

As a parent (especially one new to the world of autism) you need to get involved with other parents and learn what is  appropriate and what isn’t. I would recommend that you join the Autism Support Network Parent Facebook group.  It is a closed group that is only viewable by it’s members.  Parents can ask questions and quickly have them answered without worrying about what others may see online.

Knowledge is power. Please get involved.

Fitness and Arts Tax Credit

Sadly 2016 is the last tax year that we will be able to claim the Fitness and Arts Tax Credit. They were popular tax credits among parents with disabled children as there was a supplemental credit of $500 for children eligible for the Disability Tax Credit.

Fitness Tax Credit

The maximum eligible amount that may be claimed for 2016 has been reduced to $500 (down from $1,000). The supplemental $500 figure remains intact.

For those who have not claimed this credit before, the amount is increased by $500 as long as at least $100 claimed.  In other words, if you have $200 worth of eligible receipts, the claimed amount would be $700. Most tax software will automatically add the $500 supplement as long as you have indicated that a T2201 has been filed.

Arts Tax Credit

The maximum eligible amount for 2016 has been reduced to $250 (down from $500). The $500 supplement remains intact and works the same as for the Fitness Tax Credit.

The Future

Both of these tax credits will be eliminated for 2017 and sadly the $500 supplement will disappear at the same time.  The Federal Government has not announced any changes that will make up for this loss.

It is true that for most kids there will be an increased amount through the new Canada Child Benefit. This is fine for a typical kid, but there is nothing now to recognize the high barriers that we have getting our children into sports and arts classes.

Autism Funding In BC Has A New Look

ASD Funding has undergone it’s third major renovation. The look is fresh but the primary difference is the usability on tablets and phones. I’ve also gone through each page and updated the information and links that have changed over the past year. I sincerely hope my friends at the Autism Support Network don’t change their name again!


I hope you  enjoy the  new look. Please let me know if see anything out of place.