Troubling Testimony

February 15, 2018

"Compassion and openness is all the more important when administering tax programs for our society's most vulnerable members, especially people living with mental and physical impairments," stressed Minister of National Revenue, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier when testifying before the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. 

If only it were true.

Certainly there are hundreds, if not thousands of Canadians who know better. 

Just as troubling is the claim by Deputy Commissioner Nancy Chahwan who testified that CRA staff take into consideration all of the information provided in Form T2201, clarification letters and other documents when reviewing an application for the DTC: "We do not substitute our judgement for the medical practitioners...we make sure that the eligibility criteria of the Act are applied correctly and fairly."

Certainly, there is agreement from another senior official referring to the staff that reviews the DTC applications. "Their job," explains Frank Vermaeten, Assistant Deputy Commissioner and Co-chair of the new Disability Advisory Committee, "is not to second-guess what the medical community has provided." 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The public may not be aware that CRA staff has the authority to question the medical evidence provided by qualified health-care practitioners under Sections 220 and 224 of the Income Tax Act. It almost seems that it would be a dereliction of duty if an application for the DTC is accepted on face value even when there is no evidence of fraud.

All of the applications that I have seen have contained detailed information from medical practitioners regarding the disabling effects of the medical or physical impairment that meet the eligibility criteria in Section 118.4(1) of the Income Tax Act. And yet, these applications are denied without a valid reason.

I can only wonder if the CRA staff member reviewing the application of a10-year-old boy living with an incurable neurological disorder is as severely impaired in his/her executive functions as the child. In the Notice of Determination, the reason to deny the DTC is the following:

"For this credit, difficulties in areas such as working, housekeeping, social or recreational activities, academic skills (for example, in mathematics or languages), managing a bank account, and/or driving a vehicle are not considered marked restriction in performing the mental functions necessary for everday life.''

How does one file an Objection to CRA's Appeals Branch without understanding why the child's claim for the DTC has been denied?

Is anyone at CRA listening to Minister Lebouthillier when she talks about the need to uphold the values and principles of our society, namely, "justice, fairness and transparency" when reviewing applications for the DTC?

If you wish to share your concerns with the new Disability Advisory Committee, please send them to