Mentally Disabled in Tax Clawback

October 27, 2017

There has been plenty of heat during question period in the House of Commons this week since a press conference held in Ottawa on October 22, 2017 with Kim Hanson, Director of Federal Affairs for Diabetes Canada and Conservative Finance Critic MP Pierre Poilievre. In May 2017, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) stopped approving the Disability Tax Credit for people living with Type 1 diabetes (also known as juvenile diabetes). Thousands of claimants across the country are being affected by new interpretation of the legislation allegedly due to the assumption that individuals no longer spend 14 hours or more a week managing their insulin treatment.

The National Post and ipolitics broke the news today that other vulnerable Canadians, those living with mental impairments such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and autism, are also being denied the tax credit. Some of these individuals had been receiving the tax credit for more than 20 years. However, when asked to reapply, their applications were denied. When they appealed the decision by filing an Objection with the Appeals Division, the response was the same.

The tax grab is unconscionable. People living with severe and persistent mental illness as well as intellectual challenges are among the most vulnerable members of our society. And now we learn that CRA staff can overrule the doctor’s certification of eligibility.

In an email dated September 8, 2017, Lynne Gaucher, manager of the Disability Program Section provided the following explanation: “The CRA has the duty to administer and enforce the Income Tax Act, and consequently has the authority to question the medical evidence provided by a medical practitioner.”

Is CRA making the assumption that Canadians with disabilities are tax cheats in collusion with their doctors who are submitting fraudulent forms on their behalf?

As it is, CRA goes to great lengths to deprive people with disabilities the benefits they are entitled to by disregarding its own policies and practices that help ensure a fair assessment of the DTC application, violating the Taxpayer Bill of Rights by denying the DTC on questionable grounds and withholding the necessary documents needed to file an objection because they know that the majority of people cannot afford to consult a lawyer.

The Disability Tax Fairness Alliance, a coaltion of stakeholders including health charities and medical professionals, is calling on the government to reinstate the Disability Advisory Committee to create a productive dialogue between  the special needs community and the Canada Revenue Agency to address serious problems with the administration of the Disability Tax Credit.

You can join us by contacting your Member of Parliament and letting him or her know that discrimination against people with physical and mental impairtments by our government does not reflect Canadian values and principles and must be stopped.