Can you claim gluten-free products on taxes?

March 17, 2020

Perhaps your Friday night ritual includes ordering pizza. Maybe you’ve always had toast with your breakfast. For some, pasta is an impossible-to-replace comfort food. Whatever your reason, the fact is that a large portion of the typical wheat-friendly Canadian diet contains gluten. Yet, there are many Canadians who can’t comfortably enjoy these foods because they have celiac disease.

Some with gluten intolerance need to substitute their diet with gluten-free versions of popular foods, which can come at an extra cost. But since Canadian celiac disease sufferers are purchasing more expensive foods for health reasons, the good news is that they can claim gluten-free products on their tax returns as a medical expense.

Am I eligible?

Only those who have a medically documented gluten intolerance are able to make this claim on their taxes. So, if you voluntarily choose to give up gluten for other reasons, we’re sorry to say, you don’t qualify.

To prove to the CRA that you’re eligible, you’ll need a letter from a medical practitioner certifying that you do indeed have celiac disease and require a gluten-free diet. You won’t need to share this letter with the CRA when you file your taxes, but you should keep it handy in case they ever come asking for it. You don’t want to be caught claiming this benefit without evidence!

What can I claim?

You’re allowed to claim food that is produced and marketed specifically for gluten-free diets, such as gluten-free bread or pancake mix, for example. If you enjoy making food from scratch, you’re also eligible to claim the ingredients needed to make gluten-free foods, such as rice flour and gluten-free spices.

How much can I claim?

The CRA allows you to deduct the difference between the cost of the gluten-free item and the cost of the conventional food. So, if bread typically costs $3, but gluten-free bread costs $5, you can claim the $2 difference as a medical expense.

As with any tax claim, keeping your receipts is important. But in this case, you’ll also need to gather and collect proof to illustrate the typical prices of the conventional items, such as a photograph of a regularly-priced comparable item on shelf at the grocery store.

Additionally, if several people are eating your gluten-free foods, only the costs related to the portion eaten by the person with celiac disease are eligible. So, if you bought a pizza, but split it equally with two of your friends, only a third of that pizza is eligible to be claimed by you.

Record keeping is essential if you are planning to claim gluten-free products on taxes, but there are many ways to keep your details in order. If after you’ve gathered up your documents for the year, you’re still confused come filing time, you can always visit an H&R Block office.

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