CRA was asked whether the costs of installing a steam shower (sauna) and hydrotherapy pool could be eligible for the medical expense tax credit (METC)?

2019q2 Medical Expense Tax Credit

In a December 4, 2018 Technical Interpretation, CRA was asked whether the costs of installing a steam shower (sauna) and hydrotherapy pool could be eligible for the medical expense tax credit (METC). The use of these devices was recommended as treatment to maintain strength and mobility.

CRA noted that, for renovations to be eligible, they must:

  1. enable the patient to gain access to the dwelling or be mobile and functional within it;

  2. not typically be expected to increase the value of the dwelling; and

  3. not normally be undertaken by individuals with normal physical development or who do not have a severe and prolonged mobility impairment.

While the expenses contemplated may meet criteria (a), CRA opined they would likely fail criteria (b) and (c) and, therefore, not be eligible for the METC. However, eligibility remains a question of fact, with the onus on the taxpayer to demonstrate that all requirements were met.

Also, CRA noted that a renovation cost incurred for the main purpose of enabling a qualifying individual to gain access to the dwelling or be mobile and functional within it (the same as criteria (a) for the METC) could be eligible for the home accessibility tax credit (HATC).The HATC is a non-refundable credit that provides tax relief on up to $10,000 annually of renovations to a home to enhance mobility or reduce risk of harm for a qualifying individual (those 65 years of age or older at the end of the taxation year or eligible for the disability tax credit). The HATC requirements do not exclude costs failing criteria (b) or (c) above.

ACTION ITEM: There are several renovations that can be eligible for one or both of these credits. Receipts, invoices and/or other supporting documents should clearly identify the health benefits and purpose.