What’s new on your 2012 tax return
Family caregiver amount
If you have a dependant with an impairment in physical or mental functions, you could be eligible for an additional amount of $2,000 in the calculation of certain non-refundable tax credits.
This credit is separate from the existing caregiver amount which has existed for some time. What this credit does is “sweeten the pot” on existing credits that you must qualify for to take advantage of. This is a non-refundable tax credit which means that it only has a benefit if you are in a position of paying taxes. Low income seniors with other existing tax credits may not benefit.
The biggest beneficiary of this credit will be higher income taxpayers with a low or no income spouse who requires care. Previously this situation was excluded from the existing caregiver amount which applies to children, siblings, parents, aunts or uncles, and nieces or nephews. The Family Caregiver Credit will increase the spousal amount if it is applicable. Other credits increased include the amount for eligible dependent, amount for children, and the caregiver amount. All of these credits except the amount for children are reduced by the income of the dependent claimed.
To qualify you must have a signed statement from a medical doctor stating when the impairment began and what the duration is expected to be. For children, the dependency must exceed that of children of the same age. The criteria is not the same as the disability tax credit so theoretically you may have a dependent that qualifies for the Family Caregiver Amount but does not qualify for the Disability Tax Credit.
Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit
This new credit is a permanent refundable credit meaning that unlike the home renovation tax credit of a few years back, this is here to stay. Also, being a refundable tax credit, this will actually put cash back in your pocket. It however only applies to seniors or those living with a family member who is a senior. There are no income restrictions for this credit which will give back 15% of the amount spent up to a maximum of $10,000 per year. Eligible expenses include wheelchair ramps, walk-in tubs, grab bars and other items designed to allow you to continue living with dignity in your home. Standard renovations like windows and roofing do not qualify. Also, devices like wheelchairs or monitoring equipment also do not qualify for this credit buy may be deductible as a medical expense. If you are being told by a salesperson that the expense qualifies, check with the Ontario government BEFORE you hand over any money. There are crooks out there who will lie to get your money.