Lifestyle

You could qualify for tax credits for caregivers

Last night, I was reading a book to my daughter about a little rabbit who insisted that the other rabbits could have a piece of her carrot cake only if they met certain criteria.

Of course, the criterion established by the rabbit was ridiculous, i.e., be all brown with a white tail, be able to hop 100 times in a row, have blue eyes, and live in a certain burrow.

Intuitively, my daughter observed the fact that the other little rabbits can't always help where they live or what colour their fur is and that it wasn't fair that they didn't get a piece of cake.

I was reminded of this lovely discussion when I got a call from one of our clients (a daughter caring for her mother) requesting a statement of services to see if any of our services were eligible for a tax credit.

Apparently, some of our services were eligible for medical expenses. In another breath, she said there were many other tax credits for which she wasn't eligible based on a criterion that didn't seem to make sense to her, i.e, she didn't live with her Mom but she still provided upwards of 10 hours of care per week but apparently this didn't meet the criteria.

Remember the great column by Daryl Robbins last week (if not, find it on our website) on the Disability Tax Credit? There are a few other tax credits that some caregivers are eligible for.

I'm not the expert in this field and will simply point you in the right direction. In fact, there is a great article online from the Globe and Mail, "Tax relief rules for caregivers can be perplexing" by Tim Cestnick, updated on Sept. 10, 2012.

You can find it at www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/tax-relief-rules-for-caregivers-can-be-perplexing/article623671 or if you want a hard copy, please call our office at 250-339-1188 and we will print one for you to pick up.

Mr. Cestnick identifies seven possible tax credits for caregivers and space permits me to highlight only four, including:

• Eligible Medical Expenses: In addition to a credit for medical expenses for individuals, caregivers may also be able to claim a credit for expenses paid on behalf of "other dependent relatives," including a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, and uncle.

• Spousal Credit: is available if caregivers supported a spouse or common-law partner at any time in the year and his or her net income was less than $10,822 (in 2012).

• Eligible Dependant Credit: if at any time in the year, caregivers supported and lived with a care recipient (or dependent), and they weren't living with a spouse or common-law partner. The person being cared for must have been a parent or grandparent, sister or brother. All of these can be relations by blood, marriage, or adoption.

• Caregiver Tax Credit: for caregivers maintaining a household (alone or with another person) where they and those they care for.  The care recipient or dependent is yours or your spouse's or common-law partner's parent or grandparent, a resident in Canada, be low income and considered dependent which in the case of aging loved one is simply being 65 or older).

This list isn't comprehensive. Everyone's situation is different, thereby affecting eligibility and I also understand that if one doesn't get it right the first time, it may be more trouble than it is worth in the end.

In other words, don't be a maverick! Seek professional advice to establish eligibility and maximize results.

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Friday.

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