In an effort to assist Canadian residents who have to travel for medical care the Government allows the costs of travel to be claimed as a medical expense credit on personal tax returns.
In order to claim travel medical expenses the following three conditions must all be met:
- Equivalent medical service is not available near your home hence the requirement to travel to receive medical care
- A reasonable travel route was taken to receive medical support
- It is considered reasonable to travel to a place for the medical support received
If a doctor/medical practitioner confirms you are unable to travel alone to receive the necessary medical care, the travel costs of an attendant may also be claimed as per the conditions outlined.
In order to claim travel costs as a medical expense, taxpayers must travel at least 40 kilometers for purposes of seeking medical support.
- When traveling 40 kilometers or more, public transportation expenses such as fare of taxis, buses, or trains can be claimed. If public transportation is not readily available, vehicle expenses can be claimed.
- When traveling 80 kilometers or more, because it is likely you need temporary accommodations while receiving the medical care, accommodation expenses can be claimed, along with any parking and meal expenses in addition to vehicle expenses.
Claiming Public Transportation (Travel Distance of 40 km or more)
Public Transportation can vary from the cost paid to travel by taxi, bus, train, or air travel to reach a destination where medical services are provided.
Claiming Meal and Vehicle Expenses
Meal and Vehicle Expenses can be claimed using the simplified or detailed method as described below. All expenditures claimed using the detailed method require supporting documentation in the event the CRA decides to review the claim.
Meals expenses claimed using the simplified method are calculated using at a flat rate of $17 per meal to a maximum of $51 per day (assumes three meals a day). The detailed method claims the actual amount spent on all meals during the time spent traveling for the medical care.
Vehicle Expenses similarly can be claimed using the simplified method which is to apply a per km rate to the number of kilometers travelled from home to the place of medical service. The per km rates are published by the CRA here and the applicable rate is based on the province in which a taxpayer departs from.
The detailed method is more complicated. First, a taxpayer must document not only their travel for medical purposes but also the total kilometers driven during the year. The taxpayer must also report the total of all vehicles related costs (fuel, license fees, insurance, repairs, etc.) in order to calculate the medical travel portion based on the kilometers tracked. Due to the level of record keeping required, we typically advise our clients to use the simplified method. While a log of kilometers driven for medical support must be maintained using the simplified method, it need only list the departure and destination along with the date of travel.
If you have any questions about claiming travel costs as a medical expense please feel free to contact our firm for additional information to gain a better insight on your tax situation.
Blog post authored by Andrew Bidulka