Deduction of Tuition Fees as Medical Expenses
Karn v The Queen, 2013 TCC 78
At issue was what counts as a “certificate” as required by paragraph 118.2(2)(e) of the ITA.
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The TCC referred to the decision of Justice Campbell Miller in Lang v. The Queen, 2009 TCC 182, where it was stated that a ‘certificate’ is required, which “improperly implies that a document, report or some other written format must be produced” (para 4). The provision itself uses the phrase “who has been certified”, which implies that any format will be sufficient, including the “preferable method of oral testimony of a properly qualified individual in court” (para 4).
The certificate need not be in any particular form, but must be a “true certification” (Scott v. The Queen, 2008 FCA 286), by at least specifying “the mental or physical handicap from which the patient suffers, and the equipment, facilities or personnel that the patient required in order to obtain the care or training needed to deal with the handicap” (Title Estate v. The Queen, 2001 FCA 106). This can be achieved through a combination of documents (Lucarelli v. The Queen, 2012 TCC 301). The “the certification need not contain the phrase ‘physical or mental handicap’, there must, however, be no doubt that a reasonable person, looking at that certification, would reasonably conclude that the qualified professional has declared or positively identified the physical or mental handicap from which the individual suffers.” (para 22).
In this case, one of the reports identified a learning disability. However, not all learning disabilities qualify as a mental handicap. However, the report stated that the patient needed placement in a specialized school which “provides specialized teacher training and very specific individual program plans, optimizes the teacher to student ratio and provides a high level of individualized support” (para 22). The word “need” is equivalent to “require” (para 24).
Additionally, the TCC stated that “the certification is met where the enrollment in a specialized school that meets the accreditation requirements of the province will suffice without dictating the specific specialized school that” the patient is required to attend (para 25).
Finally, the court dealt with the timing of the certification – whether it was required before the expense is incurred. The court stated that all that is needed is that the certification requirement is met before the returns are filed (para 26).
Sas Ansari, BSc BEd PC JD LLM PhD (exp) CPA In-Depth Tax 1, 2 &3
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