My child is growing up. Are they still my dependant?
May 28, 2021
If you have people in your life that rely on you for support, letting the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Revenu Québec know about them allows you to claim certain tax credits and benefits.
Who is a dependant?
Generally speaking, a dependant is someone that relies on you for care and support on a daily basis.
For most, dependants are typically under the age of 18. However, a dependant can also be someone over the age of 18 that has a disability (a “mental or physical infirmity” is another term the government will use).
According to the CRA and Revenu Québec, a dependant must be related to you by blood, marriage, a common-law partnership, or adoption. This person might be your or your spouse’s:
- Child or grandchild;
- Parent or grandparent;
- Brother or sister;
- Uncle or aunt; or
- Niece or nephew.
Most of the time, your relative has to be a Canadian resident to qualify as a dependant. The residency requirement doesn’t apply to your or your spouse’s child or grandchild.
In this blog, we’ll be focusing on young dependants like your children, rather than adult relatives who depend on you.
How does claiming a dependant work?
Claiming a dependant on your return will give you access to certain credits and deductions, which can boost your refund or lower the amount you owe to the CRA and Revenu Québec when you file your return.
It’s important to understand how these credits work before you claim them. Some are based on age, relationship, or on the person’s health. Some credits might also be lower or higher, based on your dependants’ income.
To learn more about tax relief you can claim for your dependants, visit the H&R Block Online Help Centre.
My child is over 18. What can I claim for them?
Most of the time, once your child turns 18, they’re no longer considered a dependent for tax purposes, even if you continue to support them. However, there are some exceptions. Here are some examples of what you can and can’t claim for your child after they turn 18.
The amount for an eligible dependant or the caregiver amount.
If your child is over 18 and has a disability or infirmity, you can either claim the amount for an eligible dependant (if you’re single) or the caregiver amount (if you’re married or living with your common-law partner). If you’re a Québec resident, you can also claim the amount for other dependants as long as your child isn’t also able to transfer their tuition credits to you.
The Canada Child Benefit (CCB).
Once your child turns 18, you’ll stop receiving the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for them, regardless of whether or not they have a disability or still live with you.
The GST/HST credit.
You’ll stop receiving the GST/HST credit for your child once they turn 19. You’ll also stop receiving this credit if your child if younger than 19 but they move out or get married.
The Climate Action Incentive (CAI).
You’ll stop receiving the portion of the Climate Action Incentive (CAI) for children in your household when your child turns 18, or if they move out or get married before they turn 18.
Tuition and education amounts.
If your child is 18 or older, they can still transfer you up to $5,000 in tuition credits to lower your tax payable as long as they didn’t use all of these credits on their own return. They can also transfer their education amounts to you if you live in a province that still has them. To learn more about claiming your dependant’s unused tuition amounts, visit the H&R Block Online Help Centre.
If they’re 18 or older, you can continue claiming your child’s medical expenses if you pay for their medical care yourself and your child depends on you for support. This applies whether or not they live with you. You can claim the total eligible expenses you paid, minus $2,397 or 3% of your dependant’s net income (whichever is less). To learn more about claiming your dependant’s medical expenses, visit the H&R Block Online Help Centre.
The disability tax credit.
If your child doesn’t use the full amount on their own return, they can transfer the rest of this credit to you to reduce your tax payable, regardless of their age. However, once your child turns 18, there’s an additional amount of this tax credit that they’ll no longer receive.
Keep in mind, your child needs to have an approved disability tax credit certificate (T2201) on file with the CRA that lists you as the person claiming the amount.
If your child qualifies for the disability tax credit, there’s other amounts you can claim after they turn 18. For example:
- You can continue claiming up to $11,000 in childcare expenses for your child at any age;
- You can claim the cost of attendant care, inside or outside of your home. Keep in mind, if you’re claiming full-time attendant care, you can’t also claim the disability tax credit. However, if you claim up to $10,000 in part-time attendant care, you can also claim the disability tax credit;
- You can claim the cost of sending them to a specific school as a medical expense if the equipment, facilities, or staff provided by that school are needed for their disability;
- You can claim what you paid for therapy they needed as a medical expense; and
- You can claim what you paid for help learning how to care for your child’s disability as a medical expense.
You can also open a registered disability savings plan (RDSP) for your child (no matter their age) to save money for their long-term financial security. The income they earn through their RDSP isn’t taxed until its withdrawn. Depending on your income, your contributions to your child’s RDSP might also be matched by the federal government through the Canada disability savings grant (CDSG) program.
Have questions about what you can claim for your dependants? Get help from the largest network of reliable Tax Experts by choosing one of four convenient ways to file: File in an Office, Drop-off at an Office, Remote Tax Expert, or Do It Yourself Tax Software.