Some less-than-obvious benefits of the Medical Expense Tax Credit

When it comes time to file our personal tax returns, we all know the routine. Pretty well everyone looks for a way to reduce their tax bill or to increase their tax refund. There is always a chance that those much sought-after savings will come from an unexpected source. The Medical Expense Tax Credit is one example. It's possible that you have incurred expenses over the past year that you assumed were 'routine' but can actually earn you a heftier tax refund or reduce your tax bill. In other words, this credit can provide tax relief on items that may not appear to be medical expenses at first glance.

A person with impaired mobility can face housing costs that most of us do not. Those who qualify for the disability tax credit because of impaired mobility may be able to claim as medical expenses the cost of renovations to their current house or apartment that enable them to gain access or to be mobile within their home. If they build a new house, they may be able to claim the above average portion of their construction costs that are related to access and mobility. If they move to a house or apartment that is more accessible than their previous residence, they can claim up to $2,000 of their moving costs as medical expenses. Here are some examples of renovations and construction costs that can generally be claimed as medical expenses:

  • Adding ramps for a person who cannot use stairs
  • Widening halls and doorways to improve access to rooms
  • Lowering kitchen and bathroom cabinets to make them accessible
  • Modifying the driveway to allow access to a bus

 

A person who suffers from a severe chronic respiratory or immune system disorder can also claim certain household costs as medical expenses. With a prescription they can claim the cost of the following items:

  • An air filter, cleaner or purifier
  • A water filter, cleaner or purifier (including a water softener)
  • An electric or sealed combustion furnace that is replacing a furnace that is neither
  • 50% of the cost of an air conditioner (maximum claim of $1,000)

 

Here are some other household costs that can be claimed as a medical expense if you have a prescription for them:

  • Grab bars and other equipment to assist in the bathroom
  • A stair lift chair

 

Generally, the cost of repairs and maintenance to these items can also be claimed as medical expenses. Not all medical expenses involve medications or treatment by a healthcare professional. The items above are just some examples of extraordinary medical expenses. If you have incurred costs relating to a medical condition or disability and aren't sure whether to claim them under the Medical Expense Tax Credit, be sure to discuss them with your tax advisor during preparation of your tax return.