The Medical Expense Tax Credit – Service Animals (METC) provides tax relief in respect of certain expenses related to an animal specially trained to assist a patient in coping with the following impairments: blindness, profound deafness, severe autism, severe diabetes, severe epilepsy or a severe and prolonged impairment that markedly restricts the use of the patient’s arms or legs. For the expenses to qualify for the METC, the animal must be provided by a person or organization one of whose main purposes is providing this special training.
Budget 2018 proposes to include as eligible expenses for the METC certain expenses incurred after 2017 in respect of an animal specially trained to perform specific tasks for a patient with a severe mental impairment in order to assist them in coping with their impairment (e.g., a psychiatric service dog trained to perform specific tasks to assist with post-traumatic stress disorder).
1. What eligible expenses can I include in the calculation of the METC as a result of the proposed change?
Eligible expenses are the same as they would be in the case of other impairments described above and they include:
- the cost of the service animal;
- the cost for its care and maintenance, including food and veterinary care;
- reasonable travel expenses incurred for a patient to attend a facility that trains patients in the handling of such animals; and
- reasonable board and lodging expenses for a patient’s full-time attendance at such a facility.
2. I have a severe mental impairment and a dog that provides me with comfort and emotional support. Will expenses paid for this animal be eligible for the METC under this proposal?
No. For these other impairments, in order for expenses to qualify for the METC, the animal must be specially trained to assist the patient in coping with the impairment and must be provided by a person or organization one of whose main purposes is such training of animals.
3. Have any of the criteria changed for claiming expenses related to an animal specially trained to assist a person in coping with blindness, profound deafness, severe autism, severe diabetes, severe epilepsy or a severe or a prolonged impairment that markedly restricts the use of the patient’s arms or legs?
Expenses will only be eligible if they are in respect of an animal that has been specially trained to perform tasks that assist a patient with a severe mental impairment in coping with their impairment. Providing comfort or emotional support (such as by providing physical affection on command) is not such a task. Examples of tasks psychiatric service dogs could perform include: guiding a disoriented patient, searching the home of a patient with severe anxiety before they enter, and applying compression to a patient experiencing night terrors.
4. What documents do I need to support my claim?
When you file your income tax return, do not send any supporting documentation. Keep them in case we ask to see them.
The CRA may ask for a signed statement from a medical practitioner showing when the impairment began and what the duration of the impairment is expected to be. You do not need a signed statement from a medical practitioner if the CRA already has an approved Disability Tax Credit Certificate for this impairment.
You may also be asked for receipts for expenses paid or other documents to support your claim, such as proof that the animal was provided by a person or organization one of whose main purposes is providing the special training.
If you would like information on various programs, deductions and credits that can help save you and your family some money, contact GB Pilley & Associates Ltd., Chartered Professional Accountants at 604 926 3522.