Your Disability Tax Credit claim: An update

by Patrick Tohill, Government Relations Director at JDRF

 Were you among those denied the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) between May and December of 2017? Have you heard from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) about your claim? If you’re still waiting, you may need to reach out to the CRA to follow up.

JDRF was thrilled last December when the Minister of National Revenue announced a review of all diabetes claims disallowed last year. A controversial directive and new clarification letter issued in early May of 2017 made it essentially impossible for adults with diabetes to qualify for the DTC unless they had one or more chronic conditions in addition to their diabetes.

This spring, CRA reported to the new Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) on the results of their review. Of 2,367 claims that were reviewed, the DTC was restored for 1,326 Canadians with diabetes. This leaves 941 whose claims remain disallowed following the review.

This is obviously great news for those who’ve regained their DTC eligibility. What some may not realize is that you need to ask CRA for an adjustment of your tax return in order to obtain a refund; a matter of some inconvenience. For info on how to request an adjustment (reassessment) of your tax return see the CRA website.

That said, it is a relief I’m sure for these claimants to see the DTC restored, particularly for those who stood to lose government contributions to their Registered Disability Savings Plans. And these claimants at least have been notified of the outcome of the CRA’s review.

That leaves 941 Canadians with diabetes whose Disability Tax Credit (DTC) claims remain disallowed following the review. JDRF has been in communication with officials in CRA’s benefits directorate over the past few months and it seems that CRA has no intention to notify these claimants.

We are very concerned that these individuals may not be aware that CRA’s process has concluded. We believe that they too should be notified so that they might avail themselves of the appeal processes that would normally be available to them.

We’re also curious to know more about the reasons given for these disallowances. If you fall into this camp, we’d love to hear from you. Please send an email to advocacy@jdrf.ca or contact 1-877-297-3533 ext. 2003

At the end of the day, JDRF is grateful for the action the government took in initiating this review and restoring the DTC for more than a thousand Canadians with diabetes. However, we have some concerns about the large number of claims that remain disallowed, and the fact that people aren’t being notified.

Finally, there still seem to be too many restrictions around eligibility. Fixing what’s wrong with the DTC and RDSP is a big part of JDRF’s Pre-Budget Recommendations this year and will be a big part of our Kids for a Cure Lobby Day at the end of October. You can help support our campaign. Write to the Finance Minister today.

For those who missed it, a new Senate report was released last week called Breaking Down Barriers: A critical analysis of the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan with a series of 16 recommendations aimed at fixing some of the long-standing problems that prevent Canadians with disabilities (including chronic diseases such as type 1 diabetes), from accessing the DTC and RDSP.

JDRF has welcomed the report and is broadly supportive of the recommendations. Parents of children with type 1 diabetes as well as adults living with the disease who’ve invested in RDSPs will be pleased with the senators’ recommendation that the period of time between when contributions to RDSPs are made and when they can be withdrawn be reduced to 5 years from 10.  

Also included within the senate’s recommendations are two or three ideas that stem from JDRF’s testimony back in February. For example, the report includes a recommendation that investments and government contributions to RDSPs not be clawed back if the person was eligible for DTC when the investments were made, as well as another that all eligibility criteria for the DTC be reviewed. The report specifically mentions the 14 hour per week rule which JDRF has recommended be reduced to 10 hours, though we’d be happy to see it nixed completely.

One particular amendment we’d like to see in terms of eligibility criteria concerns the exclusion of carbohydrate calculation, which makes absolutely no sense. As anyone with type 1 will tell you, you simply cannot calculate insulin dosage, something that’s included as an eligible activity in the 14 hours, without first calculating the number of carbohydrates you’re consuming.

Unfortunately, Canada Revenue Agency wrongly considers carbohydrate calculation to fall under the category of a dietary restriction and has deemed it to be excluded under the Act. As a result, an application that mentions 280 minutes a week spent determining insulin dosage will be approved and an application mentioning 280 minutes a week calculating carbs will be denied.

JDRF has joined with Diabetes Canada in preparing a joint submission on carb calculation which we’ve submitted to the Disability Advisory Committee, the CRA and the Finance department.

Several of our recommendations around the DTC have also made their way into a Private Member’s Bill, Bill C-399, introduced by Tom Kmiec, MP for Calgary—Shepard in March. The Fairness for Canadians with Disabilities Act would “increase accessibility for disability tax credit for Canadians living with diabetes as well as those with rare disorders”.

We continue our efforts to advocate on behalf of the T1D community. You can help. Check out the Advocacy section of our website, support our online actions and sign up to receive our emails.

Lets turn type one into type none