On a gluten-free diet? You might be able to claim those expenses on your tax return.

15 mars 2023

Are you living with celiac disease? Or perhaps your child suffers from gluten allergies? If so, you know all too well that avoiding gluten-based meals is imperative, but not always simple.

The good news? There are excellent gluten-free food alternatives in the market. The bad news is that gluten-free food presents an economic burden, as it’s usually more expensive and product availability is greatest in upscale health food stores and restaurants.

Naturally, purchasing these expensive alternatives on a regular basis can add up over the year. With rising food costs brought on by inflation, managing celiac disease poses a potential challenge to families all over the country. On the bright side, it turns out that tax time is your opportunity to recoup some of those food expenses!

Since those suffering from celiac disease need to spend more on food for health and medical reasons, the Canadian government has a program to lessen some of the financial burden. We’ve answered some common questions on tax credits and support available below.

What do I need to do to claim my gluten-free food expenses?

Food expenses due to allergies can be claimed as medical expenses, though it does take preparation and organization throughout the year. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help come tax time.

  • Make sure that you’re eligible to receive this tax return and that it’s in line with your doctor’s recommendations. To qualify, you’ll need to submit a form and letter from a medical practitioner confirming that you or your child has celiac disease and needs a gluten-free diet.
  • Only gluten-free food expenses incurred by someone with a medically documented gluten-allergy can be claimed.
  • Have receipts on hand for each gluten-free food product that you want to claim. We recommend saving the original receipt in a folder, as well as taking a photo and saving it somewhere safe on your computer to ensure you have back-up. The key is to make this a part of your grocery shopping routine.

You’ll need to keep a summary of each gluten-free food product bought during the year that’s being claimed, along with the incremental cost and amount to claim. You’ll also need to keep tabs on the cost of its conventional version.

The dollar amount that’ll be returned to you is dependent on the incremental costs that these specialty food products incurred. For example, if the box of gluten-free pasta is $4.00, and its durum-wheat version is $1.00, then you can claim $3.00.

Here is an example:

Food product:Bread
Number of products bought (for the 12-month period):52
Average cost of product with gluten:$3.49
Average cost of gluten-free product:$6.99
Incremental cost:$6.99 - $3.49 = $3.50
Amount to claim:

$3.50 x 52 = $182.00

*Chart taken from Canada Revenue Agency

Keep in mind that gluten-free food expenses can only be claimed for the person that has the medically diagnosed gluten allergy. If you cook and serve the gluten-free foods to the entire family, you can only claim the portion eaten by the person with celiac disease.

Which foods can I claim?

When shopping with the intention of claiming food expenses, you’ll want to purchase items that are marketed specifically for a gluten-free diet. This includes but isn’t limited to premade breads, pastas, crackers, and baking supplies like rice flour and gluten-free spices. For a full list, click here.

When left unmanaged, this gluten allergy is so severe that it’s debilitating. Is there anything beyond claiming food expenses that I can do?

Those who suffer from celiac disease may qualify for the Disability Tax Credit.

The government of Canada recognizes that celiac disease is a life-long medical condition that can be managed through diet. Unfortunately, financial circumstances can make these gluten-free foods inaccessible, leading some celiac sufferers to consume gluten foods which can cause severe health problems long-term.

The Disability Tax Credit would help reduce income tax paid to offset some of the costs associated with managing the disease. Those who qualify can claim up to $8,662 as a medical expense.

Not sure how to tackle tax returns and tax credits as someone who suffers from celiac disease or cares for someone who does? Our H&R Block Tax Experts are ready to assist! Find an office near you to book an appointment today.

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