Medical expenses for a family can slowly mount up over the course of the year. To help with the cost of significant medical expenses, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Revenu Québec (if applicable) let you claim a non-refundable tax credit for medical expenses you paid in the year for your dependants.
A dependant can be your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s:
- Child or grandchild
- Parent or grandparent
- Brother or sister
- Uncle or aunt or
- Niece or nephew
In order to be eligible, your dependant must have relied on you for support during the year and lived with you. If your dependant didn’t live with you, he or she must have been a resident of Canada at some time during the year.
Note: The residency requirement doesn’t apply to your or your spouse’s child or grandchild.
You can claim all or a portion of the medical expenses for which you or someone else have not been or will not be reimbursed. For example, if your health insurance plan reimbursed you for 80% of your dependant’s medical expenses, you can only claim the remaining 20% on your return.
Keep in mind, the medical expenses you’re claiming can’t be used to calculate any other credit, including the disability supports deduction. Additionally, if your dependant is over the age of 18, he or she needs to claim the medical expenses on his or her return first. Any unused medical expenses can then be claimed by you.
You can claim expenses for any 12-month period ending in the tax year for which you’re filing a return. This means, for the 2016 tax year, you could claim expenses paid in 2015 and in 2016.
Tax tip: Although either you or your spouse can claim your family’s medical expenses, it’s usually better for the person with the lower income to claim the amount.
What are some eligible medical expenses?
Some common eligible medical expenses that you might be able to claim are:
- Medical services provided by qualified medical practitioners
- Dentist and dental services
- Prescription drugs and medications
- Ambulance service to or from a hospital
- Prescription eyeglasses and prescription contact lenses
- Laboratory tests and x-rays
- Diabetic testing supplies
- Premiums for private health care plans, including those you paid through payroll deductions (premiums for mandatory provincial health plans, such as the British Columbia medical services plan, are not claimable)
- Travel expenses
- Amounts paid as salary for designing personalized therapy plans for people eligible to claim the disability tax credit
Note: This list is not complete. Visit the CRA’s website for a complete list of eligible medical expenses and any supporting documents you’ll need to claim the medical expense.
Where do I claim this?
Important: Before you begin, make sure that you’ve told us about your dependants, then follow these steps to claim their medical expenses:
- Click the name of your dependant in the left-hand navigation panel.
- Under the EXPENSES section, select the checkbox for Medical expenses.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Continue.
- When you arrive at the page for Medical expenses, enter your information into the tax software.
I entered my dependant’s medical expenses in the software but don’t see a difference in my refund or tax owing
You’ll only see a difference in your refund or tax owing amount if you have a significant amount of medical expenses. The amount paid in medical expenses must exceed the least of the following amounts:
- 3% of your net income (if your dependant is under 18 years of age) or
- 3% of your dependant’s net income
For example, let’s say your 2016 net income is $30,000. On October 1st 2016, you paid $300 for your child’s prescription glasses and that was your only medical expense for the year. Since your medical expense is less than 3% of your net income, entering this amount on your 2016 tax return won’t make a difference to your refund or tax owed.
2016 net income = $30,000
2016 medical expenses = $300
$30,000 X 3% = $900
$300 - $900 = –$600 -- a negative amount can’t be claimed
However, since medical expenses paid in any 12-month period ending in the tax year can be claimed, you might be able to combine the above expense amount with other medical expenses you’ll have next year and claim it on that year’s return.
Where can I learn more?
- Do you have low income and high medical expenses? You might qualify for a separate Refundable medical tax expense supplement.
- Québec medical tax expense supplement
- Medical expenses (H&R Block Help Centre article)
- Lines 330 and 331 – Eligible medical expenses you can claim on your return (CRA website)
- Income Tax Folio: S1-F1-C1, Medical Expense Tax Credit (CRA website)
- Medical Expenses (Revenu Québec website)
- Line 381 – Medical Expenses (Revenu Québec website)