By Christine Fernie, CPA
Special to Rimbey Review
Last week I wrote about the deadlines around taxes and tax slips and the options for filing your tax return. If you did the income portion of your taxes from the information provided last week, you will be ready to go after all the deductions you have available.
It is up to YOU to know what deductions are available and a great place to figure this out is at the Canada Revenue Agency website where you can look up all deductions at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/rtrn/cmpltng/ddctns/menu-eng.html. As we age, medical expenses are a category where many deductions are missed so that is where I want to focus this week.
If you (or a parent) live in Rimbey and have to travel to Red Deer, Innisfail or Edmonton for medical appointments, you may be eligible to claim medical travel expenses. Where public transportation is not readily available and you must travel at least 40 kms one way from home, you may be able to claim vehicle expenses. If you are eligible, you can choose a detailed method or you can claim mileage at the Alberta rate of $.455/km (2014) or $.445/km (2015) cents per km.
If the appointment is further than 80 kms from home, you may be eligible to claim a hotel, meals and parking. Keep all of your appointment notices and expense receipts. If you required someone to drive you (eye appointments and surgery normally require this), keep the paperwork that says so. If you have meals, you can choose the detailed method with receipts or you may choose a standard rate of $17 for each meal to a maximum of $51 per day.
If you have a PRIVATE health plan, it’s helpful to process all CLAIMS to December 31 before mid-February because you can claim the non-reimbursed portion of prescriptions, medical, dental, eye care and other expenses on your tax return. If you have a private plan, who pays the premiums? Private health plan premiums are usually paid directly from your pay or pension and show up on pay or pension statements, but do NOT show up on T-slips. Therefore, you must check your last pay slip for the year for the annual cost or multiply your premium by the number of pay periods in a year.
If you or someone you care for is severely disabled, consider the DISABILITY DEDUCTION. The first time you claim, the doctor must complete form T2201. Read the form carefully and you will be able to figure out if you qualify for the credit.
I believe these are the medical deductions individuals most overlook and they may add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars. You can choose any 12 month period that has not previously been claimed so check to see if there is 12 months ending in 2015 of claimable expenses including your private health care plan premiums that exceed 3% of your income. This does NOT include cosmetic surgery unless it was medically essential.
Be sure to refer to the CRA website for lists of medical deductions and the details about what is claimable and what conditions must be met. Next week, I will write about other deductions and things you should consider when preparing your tax return.