Canada's Disability Tax Credit

Every year Peter Julian, New Westminster's MP,  puts on a Town Hall about what money and tax deductions are available for disabled people: The reason that he does this? It's because the federal government doesn't want to tell anybody. The federal help can be a significant amount adding up to a reasonable nest egg for someone with disabilities and considerable tax deductions. Prime Minister Harper stopped the dissemination of this information while in office, and Prime Minister Trudeau has continued in his footsteps. So Peter Julian has taken on the task with bootlegged information from disgruntled CRA employees, who believe the information should be out there...after all, the disabled are entitled to it, in fact, need it.

On March 6th, a hundred people attended his virtual Town Hall to get this information, mostly people from his constituency, but people from as far away at the Kootenays and the Interior.of BC. After,he will send the video presentation to anyone who asks, and his office willingly helps constituents find their way around the rules for getting the Disability Tax Credit and related concerns.

The Disability Tax Credit, if one qualifies, can amount to $1000 or more a year, but it is of little consequence for the disabled person who is low-income and pays little tax. However, the tax credit can be transferred to a spouse or common-law partner as long as that person lives under the same roof. It can also be retroactive up to 10 years depending on when one becomes disabled. Peter Julian says that the NDP is pushing hard to make this tax credit “refundable”, which means that the recipient can get the money in hand. Since many disabled people are low-income, this change would be important. However, it hasn't happened yet.

To get the Disability Tax Credit, it has to be deemed that one has difficulty performing any of the usual daily activities; for example, one is unable to easily speak, feed, dress, walk, eliminate or has mental issues making it difficult to function. If the would-be applicant can do all these things but it takes at least 3X longer to perform any task than the norm - even with therapy, medical devices and medicines - then you can qualify. One has to get a T2201 form from the Canada Revenue Service or Peter Julian's constituency office and your doctor or relevant health professional has to sign off.  If you application is rejected, the office staff will help you to appeal your case.

Another program is the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). To make use of this financial instrument, one has had to qualify for the above-mentioned tax credit. He said that many banks and credit unions do not know about this financial instrument so you need to find one that does. There are two programs under which you can save money using this program. There is the Canada Disability Savings Grant and the Canada Disabilities Savings Bond.  The grant can be quite lucrative as the government will match funds put into the RDSP, from $100 to $300 per year, depending on the family income; that can add up to as much as $70,000 over time. The government will only pay into the  RDSP until one becomes age 49. In the Saving Bond program, the Federal government will pay $100 to $300 a year up to $20,000 and again, the cut-off for contributions is age 49.

Peter Julian also goes through the many medical expense deductions that one can claim on income tax including some that are not well known. For example, if one buys a van modified for your disability, the government will pay 20% of the cost. They will pay $2000 if you have to move to a place that is more accessible for your needs. There are many other deductions that one can take advantage of as he explains in detail at the Town Hall.

This Town Hall is chock full of information, and Peter Julian implores people to share this information far and wide. It is so needed.

By: Susan Millar

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