If you are like many seniors, your medical bills will go up over time. At some point you may even need to hire someone to help with your personal care. The government recognizes these challenges and allows you to claim these expenses on your tax return. Here is how it works.
You can claim medical expenses for:
- your spouse or common-law partner
- your or your spouse's or common-law partner's dependent children
- other dependents. These include adult children or grandchildren, grandparents, and siblings. Note that these are claimed on a separate line of your tax return and are subject to slightly different rules. See Tax Tips for Caregivers).
What can you claim? You can claim medical expenses that you:
- have not claimed before on your tax return
- paid in any 12-month period ending in the current tax year.
Did you know? You can claim premiums paid to private health care plans, as well as eyeglasses and hearing aids. You cannot claim fitness club fees and over-the-counter medications. And, under the 2010 budget, you cannot deduct purely cosmetic medical procedures. Learn more now
Important: you cannot deduct the full amount of your medical expenses. You must add them all up and then deduct either:
- 3% of your net income, or
- $2,024 (in 2010), whichever is lower.
Tip: To get the largest claim possible, claim the medical expenses on the tax return of the lower-income family member who pays tax. Also group your medical expenses into the 12-month period that gives you the biggest claim. You do not have to use the calendar year. For example, you could claim expense from June 1 to May 31, or from February 1 to January 31.
Learn more now about which medical expenses qualify from the Canada Revenue Agency.
Attendant care expenses
Do you pay someone other than your spouse to help you with your daily care? You may be able to claim these costs as medical expenses. Attendant care expenses can be provided in a:
- personal home
- retirement home
- seniors home
- nursing home
- other institution.
In most cases, you can claim the entire amount you pay for full-time care in a nursing home. In all other cases, you can only claim cost of salaries and wages paid for attendant care. The attendant cannot be your spouse or common-law partner and must be 18 or older.
Remember: your costs for medical and personal care will likely rise over the years.
You can offset these costs by claiming some of them on your tax return. You may want to talk to a tax planning expert to make sure you take full advantage of the deductions you are allowed. Content in this section is provided in partnership with the Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization promoting financial literacy to Canadians. To find out more go to GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca.