Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Medical Expense Tax Credit: A Case for Legislative Reform.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Medical Expense Tax Credit: A Case for Legislative Reform.

Since 1942, Canada’s Income Tax Act has provided tax relief to taxpayers who spend substantial amounts of their income on out-of-pocket medical expenses. (1) Since 1988, this relief comes in the form of a tax credit, an amount that is directly deductible against income tax payable. (2) Not all medical expenses are eligible. In particular, the statutory scheme excludes some, but not all, medical services and treatments that can be broadly categorized under the term ‘complementary and alternative medicine. (3) Specifically, the Income Tax Act provides that only amounts paid for services provided by practitioners who are authorized to practice in the jurisdiction where the service is provided are creditable. Thus, availability of the medical expense tax credit [METC] will depend on whether a taxpayer’s province of residence has chosen to regulate a particular area of practice. Consequently, some taxpayers who turn to alternative medicine are denied tax relief for their medical expenses. Also not eligible for the credit are the natural health products that make up the pharmacopoeia of many alternative practitioners. As a result, many Canadians are fully taxable on amounts paid for medical treatment. Frank Tall, a Toronto math professor who suffers from allergies and environmental sensitivities, is one of these. (4) Mr. Tall spends approximately $5000 per year on homeopathic treatments. Since the 2001 tax year, he has attempted to claim the medical expense tax credit, but the Canada Revenue Agency [CRA], which is responsible for administering the Income Tax Act, has denied the claim.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Medical Expense Tax Credit: A Case for Legislative Reform.



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