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.

 

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.

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