It was a long, hard winter for many Canadians. Could a disabled person who bought a snow blower or hired a snow removal service to cope with the extreme weather qualify for the medical expense tax credit? The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) says no in both cases.
In a technical interpretation (2014-0552351E5) issued last month, the CRA was asked if someone who is disabled (i.e., qualifies for the disability tax credit) could claim the cost of purchasing a snow blower or hiring a snow removal service under the medical expense tax credit (METC).
The CRA responded to the query saying that the only medical expenses eligible for the METC are those described in subsection 118.2(2) of the Income Tax Act. "The cost of a snow blower is not listed in either subparagraphs 118.2(2)(i) or 118.2(2)(m) of the Act and section 5700 of the Regulations (which list specific prescribed devices and equipment). Therefore, the cost of a snow blower does not qualify for the METC," reads the letter from the CRA.
As for hiring someone to remove snow, the CRA says that there is no specific provision that would allow maintenance expenditures such as snow removal as a medical expense other than in situations where they are included in nursing home fees or when performed as part of general attendant care.
"When a disabled individual contracts for a specific service as opposed to attendant care, the primary purpose of the expenditure is the procurement of that particular service rather than the personal care of the disabled individual," concludes Pamela Burnley, an accountant with the CRA's Income Tax Rulings Directorate. "In our view, the costs paid for clearing snow or cutting grass would not be considered an eligible medical expense for the purpose of the METC."