Tuition can be medical expense

National Post

2014-03-29


As you work through the preparation of your 2013 tax return, one of the non-refundable credits you may be entitled to is the medical expense tax credit (METC).

Valid medical expenses qualify for a 15% federal credit as well as a provincial credit, provided they exceed a minimum threshold equal to the lesser of 3% of your net income or $2,152.

In some cases, the cost of private school tuition can be a valid medical expense for tax purposes and the issue came up most recently in a technical interpretation released by the Canada Revenue Agency earlier this month.

The CRA was asked whether private school tuition fees paid for a child who has multiple severe food allergies could qualify as a medical expense.

The taxpayer explained that she chose not to enroll her son in the public school system since she felt that "the public school was not safe for (her) son." Although the public school provided a peanut-free environment, it could not, however, guarantee a sesame-free environment.

As a result, the parent enrolled her son in a private school that could provide a safe, allergen-free environment. It should be noted that the child was not eligible for the disability tax credit.

Under the Income Tax Act, medical expenses which are eligible for the METC must be specifically set out in the Act. If an expense is not listed, or if the requirements under which the expense qualifies aren't met, then the expense won't qualify for the purposes of the METC, even though it may have been incurred for a valid medical reason.

The rule for METC tuition states that fees paid to a particular school can qualify as a medical expense provided certain requirements are met. Specifically, the child must have a physical or mental disability and must require the "equipment, facilities, or personnel specially provided by that school, institution, or other place for the care or the care and training of persons suffering from the handicap suffered by the patient."

In addition, a medical practitioner or the principal of the private school must certify in writing that the child requires the "specially provided equipment, facilities, or personnel" available at that school.

The CRA concluded that in its view, the requirements of Tax Act were not met since there was "no clear indication that your son suffers from a known physical or mental handicap."