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Prepayment of Medical Treatments = No Tax Credits?

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8 minute read

By: Cory G. Litzenberger, CPA, CMA, CFP, C.Mgr – President & Founder of CGL Strategic Business & Tax Advisors

Which came first, the payment or the expense?

As of May 21, 2018, according to the website: https://turbotax.intuit.ca/tips/are-medical-expenses-deductible-5317 (image above) they recommend paying large medical expenses in advance in order to claim a tax credit in the year you paid.

This is not entirely accurate.

Payment alone will not guarantee that you can claim it as a medical expense.

In an (originally issued in French) external interpretation issued by the Canada Revenue Agency on December 6, 2016 (2015-0589041E5 F) they clarified that prepayment of medical services only works for services consumed in the 12 months ended in the tax year.

Relying on a 2001 Federal Court of Appeal case, the CRA stated,

“an expense is “incurred” […] only where there is an obligation to pay a sum of money. […] we are of the view that a fee paid is not necessarily an expense incurred. This could mean that it is to be regarded as a prepaid fee. With respect to an amount paid for medical expenses, it must, therefore, be determined whether it is an expense incurred or a prepaid amount.”

Uh oh.

They are saying that there is a difference in the tax treatment between prepayment and an expense, which is why we have to figure out what the payment is.

It seems to say that if there were no services rendered, then it isn’t an expense.

Think of the following scenario:

– Your child goes back to school in the fall.
– You find out they need braces.
– After some back and forth and budget planning you decide to go ahead.
– The orthodontist in this example gives you payment options: pay up front or set up a payment plan (usually a higher amount overall).
– You make the voluntary decision to pay upfront before installing the braces.
– You pay the fee in late November in the tax year, but the braces are not installed until January of the following year.

To this extent the CRA continues:

“…medical expenses [for a particular taxation year must] have been paid within any period of 12 months that ends in the taxation year…”

The CRA continues by stating that an individual can choose any 12-month period in the year, but the expenses must be paid in that period.

“Thus, for the purposes of computing the METC, it is necessary to determine whether the expenses paid […] were paid during the period chosen by the taxpayer.”

So yes, we paid during the period, but the CRA is using that word expenses, and we already know that they don’t call it an expense unless services are rendered

This means since no services were rendered in the tax year, we cannot claim the prepayment as an expense (or at least according to them).

The ruling gets worse.

If you are like most people, you submit your receipts on a calendar year to your accountant and don’t give it much more thought than that.

The CRA states how you could lose the deduction entirely:

“where an individual chooses the period from January 1 to December 31 [of the taxation year] the expenses that are the subject of the METC computation must have been paid during the same period.

For example, if a dental service is rendered on January 15 [of the taxation year] […] and the expenses are incurred at that time, the fees paid for that service would be medical expenses […]

If these fees were paid on December 31, [of the previous year] they would not be eligible for the METC computation for [the taxation year] as they would not have been paid during the selected period.”

Pardon?

Yes, they are saying that if you prepaid for medical services, the amount held on deposit at your orthodontist’s office would not be considered expenses – even as the services are rendered – if the payment was not in the 12-month period reported on the return.

So not only did you not get the expense in the tax year that you prepaid but because you filed your medical expenses on the calendar year, you don’t get the medical expense when the services were rendered either because there was no payment in the year.

They do provide a little hind-sight relief, however, but it requires more filings subject to their approval (which is never a quick process). Simply put, they state that in this scenario, they would let you go back to amend the earlier tax year to include the expense.

Personally speaking, this is frustrating because when you file the first year, they are saying it is not eligible, but after you file the second year, they tell you to go back and amend the first year.

Seems like semantics, as the braces won’t be installed on your child unless you are both bound to some sort of contract including requirements to pay but watch for an over-zealous tax auditor to kick out your deposit in year one if services were not yet rendered especially where the deposit is refundable.

My recommendation?

In order to please the CRA, it is my suggestion that when you make the prepayment – rather than just getting your credit card slip and a statement of account showing the deposit – you need to have some sort of written contract or agreement with the medical practitioner’s office. This agreement should state that the prepayment is for medical services to be rendered by the practitioner and is non-refundable and that you have an “obligation to pay” prior to services being rendered.

Hey… I didn’t say it was a GREAT recommendation… and most things to appease the rules in the Income Tax Act aren’t.

CEO | Director, Canadian Tax Advisory CGL Strategic Business & Tax Advisors With the Income Tax Act always by his side on his smart-phone, Cory has taken tax-nerd to a whole other level. His background in strategic planning, tax-efficient corporate reorganizations, business management, and financial planning bring a well-rounded approach to assist private corporations and their owners increase their wealth through the strategies that work best for them. An entrepreneur himself, Cory started CGL with the idea that he wanted to help clients adapt to the ever-changing tax and economic environment and increase their wealth through optimizing the use of tax legislation coupled with strategic business planning and financial analysis. His relaxed blue-collar approach in a traditionally white-collar industry can raise a few eyebrows, but in his own words: “People don’t pay me for my looks. My modeling career ended at birth.” More info: https://www.CGLtax.ca/Litzenberger-Cory.html

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Business

Downtown Business Spotlight: Root 51 Salon and Spa

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This week’s Business Spotlight shines on Root 51 Salon & Spa! This unique establishment is located right on 4814 51 St and offers anywhere from haircare to spa treatments to relax and pamper. We spoke with the owner to learn more about this wonderful establishment!

What is your business?
Our business is a small locally owned salon & spa.

When did your business open?
We downsized & renovated this main floor in 2016 & changed our name to Root51 (previously Techniques Hair Therapy & Day Spa in the Millennium Center for 2 decades!)

What makes your business unique?
We have asked our valued guests this same question the responses we got: our education, our flexibility to accommodate, our selection & knowledge in our top-shelf natural products for both hair & skin, our prices are extremely reasonable for the level of experience (over 30 years) & education (over 100K worth of education!!!) (in a big city I would charge 35-40% more for the same treatments), and we work hard and are very proud of this next one…our Cleanliness – often they say your place is always spotless! (even before Covid!!)

What are some products/services that you offer?
Full-service Salon hair Care & Spa treatments that are non-invasive. Michele specializes in colours, balayage & ombre, colour corrections & blondes. Smoothing treatments are in high demand for silky soft straight looks and perms for waves or more body. With 30 years of cutting hair, some guests have said “that’s the best-shaped haircut I ever had.”
Spa treatments are effective and relaxing with visible results after one treatment ~ home care is a must because maintenance is easy than correction. Our skincare line is exclusive to us in RD and is composed of sea plants and seawater with many benefits to your facial skin as well as your body and well-being!

Why did you choose Downtown Red Deer as the location for your business?
In 2000, the Millennium Center was a brand new and very central location — when we changed the location to 2 block north on 51 st ~ we wanted to be able to still cater to our professional corporate downtown business people.

What do you think makes Downtown vibrant?
I believe it’s the local entrepreneurs big & small that make downtown a vibrant place.

Website: Root 51 Official Website
Facebook: Root 51 Facebook Page

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Alberta

Downtown Business Spotlight: Artisan Food Market on Ross

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This week’s Business Spotlight shines on Artisan Food Market on Ross! This unique restaurant is located right on Ross Street (106, 4916 Ross Street) and offers a large selection of locally made products. We spoke with the owner to learn more about this wonderful establishment!

What is your business?
Artisan Food Market on Ross is a specialty food store. We carry a large selection of local, national, and international foods and ingredients.

When did your business open?
We opened on April 1, 2020.

What makes your business unique?
We carry a large selection of local items and have a variety of frozen meals.

What are some products/services that you offer?
Customers can place orders for their favourite D Dutchmen Dairy or Black Forest German Bakery products and the requested items will get delivered to our store the following week. Additionally, customers can shop online and have their products delivered to their homes even during the times that we are closed. If a customer wishes to place an order they can simply visit us at www.ArtisanFoodMarket.ca.

Why did you choose Downtown Red Deer as the location for your business?
As a Red Deerian, I wanted to make a positive impact for our downtown by setting up a local market store right here.

What do you think makes Downtown vibrant?
I love the flower gardens at the city hall and the assortment of independent shops in our downtown core.

Finish this sentence: I love Downtown because…
It’s my home and it’s my place for adventure.

Website: Artisan Food Market on Ross Official Website
Facebook: Artisan Food Market on Ross Facebook Page
Instagram:
@artisanfoodmarket

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