Charlotte lobbies for medical travel tax change

  • Oct. 22, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Medical travel, but not meals and accommodation in another town, are eligible for income tax credit, according to Revenue Canada, but Queen Charlotte council is going to lobby for that policy to change. Queen Charlotte councillors discussed a letter from Smithers-based firm Edmison Mehr Chartered Accountants at their Oct. 18 meeting. The company has one client who appealed Revenue Canada’s recently changed position. According to the letter, new tax policy does not include meal and accommodation costs, “reasoning that once you have reached the locality where the medical service is provided, you are no longer travelling.” Their client lost the appeal, but the firm believes the issue should be pursued. “Our client base included numerous examples where hundreds of dollars of medical travel expense would be denied,” said Michael Mehr in the letter. He estimates the policy change will cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Mr. Mehr says the Income Tax Act states taxpayers can claim “travel” expenses but does not define “travel”. Travel does not stop once a patient gets to another community, said councillor Gladys Noddin, who has dealt with this policy change in relation to her own medical travel. “You have to eat and have a roof over your head and transportation around the city (to the medical service),” she said. “It’s a big issue.” Mr. Mehr outlined two steps forward, one of which is an informal procedure where the taxpayer represents themselves at tax court, but Revenue Canada is not bound by any decisions under this procedure. The formal procedure requires engaging legal representation, which would be costly, but could benefit all taxpayers. He also suggests those who share his firm’s concern communicate to appropriate levels of government. Queen Charlotte council voted to write letters to Revenue Canada and MP Nathan Cullen about the issue. “This impacts all of us on all levels,” said mayor Carol Kulesha.