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Every year during tax season, we prepare general tax tips for people who are on dialysis or have had a kidney transplant.

The income tax assistance measures most often used by people with kidney disease are the Medical Expense Tax Credit and the Disability Tax Credit. These are non-refundable tax credits that reduce the amount of income tax you owe.  They can’t reduce the amount of tax owed to less than zero, meaning they won’t reimburse your medical expenses, but they reduce the amount of income tax you must pay.

Information on other tax assistance measures and on Tax Preparation Clinics as well as sample letters can be found below.

The information provided is general in nature and does not necessarily cover all circumstances. While we make every effort to be accurate, we recommend that you seek professional tax advice for your individual questions. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) provides detailed instructions for claiming the various tax credits and deductions that are available. You can find these instructions from the CRA website or by calling 1-800-959-8281.

Medical Expense Tax Credit

The Medical Expense Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit that you can claim for a wide range of medical and related expenses.

You can claim eligible medical expenses that you or your spouse or common-law partner paid for:

  • Yourself
  • Your spouse or common-law partner
  • Your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s children who were under 18 years of age at the end of the tax year. 
You can claim eligible medical expenses that you, or your spouse or common-law partner paid for in any 12-month period ending in 2020 and did not claim in 2019.

Your total expenses have to be more than 3% of your net income (line 23600) or $2,397, whichever is less.

Common expenses for people with kidney disease that can be claimed are listed here:
  • Travel Expenses
    Claiming travel expenses is different based on how far you travel from your home for treatment. Travel expenses cannot be claimed as a medical expense if you travelled less than 40 kilometres one-way from your home to get medical services.

    Travel Expenses: at least 40 km but less than 80 km one-way
    The cost of public transportation expenses (for example, bus, taxi, or train) can be claimed if you travelled at least 40 kilometres (one-way), but less than 80 km, from your home to get medical services.

    To claim transportation and travel expenses, the following conditions must be met:

    • The same medical services were not available near your home
    • You took a reasonably direct travelling route
    • It is reasonable for you to travel to that place for those medical services
    You can also claim the travel expenses of a person to accompany you if a medical professional certifies in writing that you were not able to travel alone to get medical services.

    Where public transportation is not readily available, you may be able to claim vehicle expenses.

    You can calculate vehicle expenses using the detailed or simplified method.

    Travel Expenses: at least 80 km one-way
    The cost of travel expenses, including accommodations, can be claimed if you travelled at least 80 kilometres (one-way) from your home to get medical services.

    For calculating meal and vehicle expenses, you can use the detailed or simplified methods.
  • Meal Expenses
    Detailed method
    If you use the detailed method to calculate meal expenses, you must keep your receipts and claim the actual amount that you spent for your 12-month period.

    Simplified method
    If you use the simplified method to calculate meal expenses, you can claim in Canadian or US funds a flat rate of $23/meal, to a maximum of $69/day (sales tax included) per person, without receipts. Although you do not need to keep detailed receipts for actual expenses if you use the simplified method, the CRA may still ask you to provide some documentation to support your claim.
  • Vehicle Expenses
    Detailed method
    If you use the detailed method to calculate vehicle expenses, you must keep all receipts and records for the vehicle expenses you incurred during the 12-month period you choose for medical expenses.

    Vehicle expenses include:
    • Operating expenses such as fuel, oil, tires, licence fees, insurance, maintenance, and repairs.
    • Ownership expenses such as depreciation, provincial tax, and finance charges.
    Keep track of the number of kilometres you drove in that 12-month time period, as well as the number of kilometres you drove specifically for the purpose of medical expenses. Your claim for vehicle expenses is the percentage of your total vehicle expenses that relate to the kilometres driven for medical expenses.

    For example, if you drove 10,000 km during the year, and half of that was related to medical expenses, you can claim half of the total vehicle expenses on your return.

    Simplified method
    If you use the simplified method, keep track of the number of kilometres driven during the 12-month period you choose for medical expenses. To determine the amount, you can claim for vehicle expenses, multiply the number of kilometres by the cents/km rate from the chart below for the province or territory in which the travel begins.
    Province or Territory Cents/kilometer
    Alberta 47.0
    British Colombia 52.0
    Prince Edouard Island 49.0
    Manitoba 49.5
    New Brunswick 50.5
    Nova Scotia 51.0
    Nunavut 59.0
    Ontario 55.0
    Quebec 52.0
    Saskatchewan 49.0
    Newfoundland and Labrador 54.5
    Northwest Territories 59.5
    Yukon 58

    *These rates were taken from the Government of Canada's Meal and Vehicle Rates Used to Calculate Travel Expenses page.

    Although you do not need to keep detailed receipts for actual expenses, the CRA may still ask you to provide some documentation to support your claim.
  • Accommodation Expenses
    You must keep receipts for all accommodation expenses, and you must be able to show that the amount you paid for accommodation is necessary because of the distance travelled and your medical condition. Claim the amount for accommodation as shown on your receipts.

  • Home Hemodialysis or Peritoneal Dialysis Machine (“Kidney Machine”)
    People who have installed a home hemodialysis machine may claim the following costs:
    • Repairs, maintenance, and supplies
    • Additions, renovations, or alterations to a home (the hospital official who installed the machine must certify in writing that they were necessary for installation)
    • The part of the operating costs of the home that relate to the machine (excluding mortgage interest and capital cost allowance)
    • A telephone extension in the dialysis room and all long-distance calls to a hospital for advice or to obtain repairs
    • Necessary and unavoidable costs to transport supplies
    To calculate the cost for housing the machine (that is, municipal taxes, insurance, heating, lighting, and maintenance and repairs, but not including capital cost allowance or mortgage interest) or the portion of rent that is attributable to the room where the machine is kept: you should use percent of square footage of your home and pro-rate your expenses. So if you keep your dialysis machine in a room that is 20% of the square footage of your home, you can claim 20% of the expenses of your taxes, insurance, heating, lighting, rent, etc.

    To calculate the utilities (water) you can claim what can reasonably be attributed to the machine. One way to calculate this would be to look at the difference between the bills you received before the machine was installed and those after it was installed. The difference in the cost is what you could claim.

    Some provinces have utility reimbursement programs.  If you claim utility costs for home hemodialysis as tax credits:
    1. Add up your expenses in the same manner you have in the past
    2. Deduct your grant from this amount.
    The remaining amount is what you would claim as tax credit.
  • Organ Transplant
    You may claim reasonable amounts you paid to find a compatible donor, to arrange the transplant including legal fees, insurance premiums, and reasonable travelling costs including board and lodging expenses for the patient, the donor, and their respective attendants. All provinces have programs to reimburse living donors for the costs associated with donation (parking/transit, meals, accommodation, etc.). Any costs for which reimbursement is provided cannot be claimed as medical expenses.
  • Prescription drugs and medications
    You can claim the cost of prescription drugs and medications that were prescribed by a medical professional and were recorded by a pharmacist. You cannot claim over-the-counter medications, vitamins, or supplements, even if prescribed by a medical professional (except Vitamin B12).
  • Drugs and medical devices bought under Health Canada's Special Access Program
    You can claim the amounts paid for drugs and medical devices that have not been approved for use in Canada, if they were bought under this program. For more information, visit Health Canada's Special Access Programs overview page. 

    For a complete list of the medical expenses you can claim, visit the Government of Canada's page on Eligible medical expenses you can claim on your tax return.​

Disability Tax Credit

The Disability Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit helps persons with disabilities or their supporting persons reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. Dialysis is a life-sustaining therapy that meets the criteria for this credit. The credit will reduce your income tax payable if you qualify. If you have no tax payable, you may transfer the credit to a spouse or other supporting person.

We recommend that all dialysis patients apply for the Disability Tax Credit. Your renal social worker can help you with the paperwork, if needed. The application is easily completed and there is no need for a private company to assist.

  • Eligibility and details
    You are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit if the CRA approves Form T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate. A medical professional has to fill this out and certify that you have a severe and prolonged impairment and must describe its effects. In Part B, under Life Sustaining Therapy, we recommend that your doctor answer ‘yes’ to the question: “Does your patient meet the conditions for life-sustaining therapy?” and specify the type of therapy as “kidney dialysis to filter blood.” The letter, Addendum to the Disability Tax Credit Certificate may also be helpful in explaining the diagnosis of End-Stage Renal Disease and the time required for dialysis. The application for the T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate  is available on the Government of Canada's T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate page.  

    The maximum federal disability amount for 2020 is $8,576 for those over the age of 18, and $5,003 for persons under 18 years old (Source: Government of Canada's Disability Tax Credit page)

Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)

The RDSP is a federal government program that encourages people with disabilities to save in order to become more financially secure. It is similar to paying into a private pension plan and the government matches personal contributions up to a certain amount. Canadian residents under the age of 60, who qualify for the Disability Tax Credit, may be eligible if they meet certain criteria. Parents can open an RDSP for their child. For more information, visit the Government of Canada's Registered Disability Savings Plan page.

Additional Tax Assistance Measures

  • Canada Caregiver Credit
    If you have a dependant (for example, a child, spouse or common-law partner) with an impairment in physical or mental functions, you may be eligible to claim an additional amount of $2273 with a signed statement from a medical professional 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 Form T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate, for the specified period. More information is available on the Government of Canada's Canada Caregiver Credit page. 
  • Refundable Medical Expense Supplement
    You can claim a refundable credit of up to $1,272 if all of the following apply:
    • you have an amount on line 21500 or line 33200 of your return
    • you were resident in Canada throughout 2020
    • you were 18 years of age or older at the end of 2020
    • The total of the following 2 amounts is $3,714 or more:
    More information is available on the Government of Canada's Refundable Medical Expense Supplement page. 
  • Disability Supports Deduction
    If you have a physical or mental impairment, you can claim a disability supports deduction if you paid expenses that no one has claimed as a medical expense, and you paid them so that you could:
    • Work;
    • Go to school;
    • Do research for which you received a grant.
    More information is available  on the Government of Canada's Disability Supports Deduction page.
  • Federal Excise Gasoline Tax Refund Program
    You may qualify to have a portion of the federal excise tax on gasoline refunded to you if you have a letter from a medical professional certifying that you have a permanent mobility impairment and cannot safely use public transportation. More information and the application form are available on the Government of Canada's Excise Gasoline Tax Refund page.     
  • Canada Workers Benefit (Working Income Tax Benefit before 2019)
    The Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) is a refundable tax credit to help individuals and families who are working and earning a low income.

    The CWB has two parts: a basic amount and a disability supplement. You can claim the CWB when you file your income tax return.

    Eligible individuals and families can get up to half of the CWB in advance payments instead of waiting for tax time. 

    More information on eligibility is available on the Government of Canada's Canada Workers Benefit page.  

Volunteer Tax Preparation Clinics

Volunteers trained by the CRA are available to help you complete your return. The program is designed to help low-income people with simple tax situations. To find a tax preparation clinic in your area go to the Government of Canada's Find a Tax Clinic in Your Area or call 1-800-959-8281.

Remember to bring your tax information slips and receipts. You can get your current year and prior year old age security (OAS), employment insurance (EI) and Canada pension plan (CPP) tax slips electronically by signing in to your My Service Canada account. 


Sample Letters

Canada Revenue Agency Guides

For more information on filing your tax return, check the CRA website or call: Individual Income tax enquiries: 1-800-959-8281. T.I.P.S (Tax Information Phone Service) at 1-800-267-6999 (automated).