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Tax Deductible Medical Expenses – What You Can Claim

medical expenses tax

Medical expenses are some of the most underappreciated non-refundable tax deductions. Most Canadians are aware that they can deduct some medical expenses, but a lot of people are unsure of what they can deduct and how much they can deduct, so they simply don’t

Here we are going to go over the basics as they relate to Canadian taxes and medical expenses for the 2021 tax year.

What is Considered a Medical Expense for Tax Purposes?

We recognize that figuring out what medical costs you can claim can be difficult. If you have qualified medical expenses, you can claim them on your tax return if they were:

  • You or your spouse are responsible for the payment (common-law partners included).
  • Paid over the course of any 12-month period ending in 2021.
  • In 2020, neither you nor anyone else has claimed it.
  • You can also claim all payments made, even if they were made outside of Canada. Medical expenditures can be claimed for any 12-month period ending in 2021 that you haven’t claimed in 2020. You may, for example, claim expenses paid in 2020 and 2021 for the 2021 tax year.

You can claim all or part of your medical expenditures that haven’t been reimbursed or won’t be reimbursed. For instance, if your health insurance compensated you for 80% of your medical expenses, you can really only claim the remaining 20% on your tax return.

This leads to the second question: what are medical expenses that are qualified for tax purposes? This section will be divided into two parts:

  • Typical medical expenses
  • Medical expenses are sometimes overlooked.

Typical Medical Expenses

It’s critical to double-check that your spending is tax-deductible in your province or territory. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) acknowledges that its list isn’t that exhaustive, but the CRA Medical Expense Chart offers a searchable overview that serves as a decent starting point when determining what medical expenses might be deductible.

Because that chart is long and a little tricky to navigate, here’s a look at some examples of common medical expenses:

  • Prescription medications and pharmaceuticals, but not over the counter medications.
  • Fees charged by medical professionals (although the types of medical practitioners that qualify will vary according to province, so double check on the CRA website or ask your tax accountant)
  • Aids for mobility in the bathroom (grab bars, grips, and rails).
  • Hearing aids
  • Hospitalization.
  • If you go more than 40 kilometers because medical services are not available where you live, you can claim for travel charges to receive medical treatment outside your town.
  • Insulin, needles, and syringes for diabetic treatment
  • Contact lenses, as well as contact lens care supplies
  • Premiums for medical care coverage under private health insurance.
  • If registered with a legal provider, medical cannabis (the sums spent for cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis plant seeds, or cannabis goods).
  • Costs associated with service animals, including feeding and veterinary care.
  • Ambulance service to or from a public or private hospital that is licensed.

It’s important to remember that you’ll need to keep your receipts when claiming these expenses. If you file a paper tax return, you must include your receipts. However, if you file online, which most people do, it’s still a good idea to keep all of your receipts in case the CRA wants them at a later point.

Commonly Overlooked Medical Expense Tax Deductions

As we mentioned earlier, we appreciate that determining whether medical expenses are deductible from the perspective of the CRA is difficult.

Some medical expenses you might not expect that improve the quality of life for someone living with a health issue can be claimed as a tax deduction, as can some common expenses that are often missed. However, keep in mind that some of these may require a prescription from a doctor.

The following are examples of such costs:

  • Prescribed birth control
  • Costs of renovation or building to improve access or mobility within one’s house, subject to specific requirements.
  • Necessary cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, as well as medical plastic surgery. Such surgeries might include dental implants and facial reconstructive surgery if resulting from an accident or disfiguring disease.
  • Appliances such as a heater or air conditioner that are prescribed due to a serious chronic respiratory illness or immune system problem.
  • Gluten-free items for celiac disease sufferers.
  • Tutoring services for children with diagnosed special needs.
  • Prescription sunglasses.

The same requirements regarding keeping your receipts apply here as well. So, unless you’re filing a paper return (in which case you’ll need to attach all of your receipts), save any receipts in case the CRA asks to look at them.

And by the way, if you are wondering if all those masks you purchased in 2021 to meet COVID-19 regulations are tax-deductible, according to an interview with CRA representatives the answer is no, unless they were of the prescribed by a doctor medical variety.

For Whom Can I file a Claim for Medical Expenses?

You can claim medical expenses on your tax return for the following people:

  • Yourself
  • Your spouse or common-law partner, as well as your or your spouse’s minor children
  • Other relatives (such as you or your spouse’s child or grandchild above the age of 18, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece, or nephew) who rely on you for support.

If you and your family incurred a lot of medical expenses in 2021, before you file your taxes this year, it’s a smart move to consult with a tax accountant – like us – to have them help you ensure you claim back everything you can.