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Making tax time accessible to all Canadians!

This article has been posted for the benefit of the community on behalf of the Canada Revenue Agency. Please contact CRA for further information.

Canadians with disabilities and those who live with them know that, over a lifetime, the costs of overcoming barriers can really add up. That’s why the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers credits and benefits for Canadians with disabilities and their caregivers to help offset these costs—from childhood through the school years to the workforce to retirement.

If you have a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions and you are eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC), you may be able to reduce the amount of income tax you pay in a year. You can apply for the DTC by filling out the application, having your disability tax credit form certified by a qualified practitioner, and submitting it to the CRA for approval. You may also be able to transfer any unused parts of this disability amount to another supporting person to reduce his or her federal tax owing.

Making your home accessible is a very important part of living comfortably with a disability. Most individuals can claim the home buyers’ amount for first-time owners, which allows them to claim an amount of $5,000 for the purchase of a qualifying home. However, if you are eligible for the disability amount and you purchased a home to better meet your needs or those of a related eligible individual, you can claim the home buyers’ amount without the home being your first-time at ownership. For more information, visit www.cra.gc.ca/hbtc.

Do you care for a child with a disability? If your child is under 18 years old and eligible for the DTC, you may be able to reduce the amount of income tax you pay in a year by claiming the disability amount for a dependant. In addition, if you receive the Canada child tax benefit, you can also receive the child disability benefit, which is a tax-free, monthly benefit for families who care for children under 18 who are eligible for the DTC.

Applying for your Canada child and family benefits is easy using the Apply for child benefits online service through My Account. You may also be eligible for the family caregiver amount of up to $2,058 in 2014, in calculating certain non-refundable tax credits. If your child is registered in a physical activity or artistic program, you may be able to claim an additional $500 on top of the regular amount under the children’s fitness tax credit and the children’s arts tax credit.  In addition, under proposed changes, the maximum amount of eligible expenses for the fitness tax credit has been increased to $1,000 for each child.

For long-term financial planning, the registered disability savings plan (RDSP) helps reduce financial worries for those who are eligible for the DTC and their loved ones. In particular, the RDSP helps parents and others contribute up to $200,000 for the long-term financial security of a person who is eligible for the DTC. To find out more, go to www.cra.gc.ca/rdsp.

The purchase and use of supports and support services like talking textbooks, job coaching services, and braille note‑taker devices are eligible expenses that you may be able to claim as part of the disability supports deduction. These expenses must have been incurred as a result of your being employed or carrying on a business, conducting research based on a grant, or attending an educational institution.

New for 2014—if you are eligible for the DTC you may be able to claim the salary amount associated with the design of a personalized therapy plan, as a medical expense. Also new this year, you can claim the costs for service animals used to manage severe diabetes. To get more information, including a list of other medical expenses that are eligible, go to www.cra.gc.ca/medical.

The CRA website has a dedicated section to persons with disabilities and the specific tax scenarios that may affect them. Go to www.cra.gc.ca/disability, where you will find information on how to determine if you may be eligible for the DTC.

The CRA prides itself on making its services accessible to all Canadians. If you are blind or partially sighted, the CRA offers publications and forms in alternative formats—such as braille, large print, etext, and MP3 audio. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use teletypewriter services by calling 1-800-665-0354. Or, with your written permission, the CRA will speak to an operator-assisted relay service for you or arrange to have a sign language interpreter available at a meeting. Call 1-800-959-8281 for more information.

If you need help filing your income tax and benefit return, have a modest income, and a simple tax situation, contact the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, which runs volunteer tax clinics across the country. To find a volunteer tax preparation clinic, go to www.cra.gc.ca/volunteer.

Remember, the deadline to file your individual income tax and benefit return and pay any amount owing is April 30, 2015—don't wait!

Don’t miss the latest CRA news or tax tips—follow the CRA on Twitter: @CanRevAgency

Disclaimer:

This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.