When I was a young college student and very naive about the complexities of the Income Tax Act, I bravely completed my own tax return and claimed lipstick, among other things, as an employment expense. Sadly, my cosmetic claim was rejected. Since then, I have not become a tax expert but have learned the joy—and importance of —reading the fine print about eligible expenses.

As you assemble your documents and receipts for filing your 2018 tax return, here are answers to two common questions posed to the Open Door:

  1. Can I claim tutoring fees as an expense on my income tax?
  2. Does a learning disability, like dyslexia, qualify for the disability tax credit?

Let’s start with the first question:

  1. Can I claim tutoring costs as an expense on my income tax?

The answer is a qualified “Yes”, providing certain conditions are met.

On the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website, tutoring services of a person with a learning disability is an eligible Medical Expense.

Medical Expenses are Non-Refundable Tax Credits andare used to reduce the amount of tax payable. Tutoring fees are included with other medical expenses (such as vision care, prescriptions, orthodontics, etc.) to reduce the amount of federal and provincial taxes payable. To claim tutoring fees you need receipts and a written letter from a medical practitioner to certify that the service is required.

NOTE: The CRA link listed in the next paragraph gives a step-by-step explanation and calculation worksheet.

The following wording is from the CRA website:

Tutoring services that are additional to the primary education of a person with a learning disability or an impairment in mental functions, and paid to a person in the business of providing these services to individuals who are not related to the person. A medical practitioner must certify in writing that these services are needed. (Tutoring Medical Expense definition on CRA site )

The list of acceptable medical practitioners on the CRA website includes psychologists, speech pathologists, audiologists, etc. Here is the link to this list: Medical Practitioners recognized by CRA

NOTE: Outside of your income taxes, another way you might be able to “get money back” is through a private health insurance plan.

If you or your partner has health insurance coverage through your work, tutoring might be covered through the plan and you may be able to be reimbursed for some of the expense. Check your private health insurance package to find out if tutoring services are covered. If you’re unsure, call and speak to a plan representative.  If tutoring is covered, be sure to ask the representative what specific documentation is needed to support the claim and what maximums apply.

  • Does a learning disability, such as dyslexia, qualify for the Disability Tax Credit?

By itself, a learning disability, such as dyslexia, is unlikely to qualify as a disability for this credit. To qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), the individual must have a disability that markedly restricts them, all or almost all of the time, in one or more of the basic activities of daily living, as set out on form T2201.  Unless other conditions are present a learning disability would not qualify. Here is a link to the criteria for eligibility for the DTC: DTC eligibility criteria

Again, by itself a learning disability such as dyslexia is unlikely to qualify for the Child Disability Benefit. This is because the child must meet the same disability criteria as required for the Disability Tax Credit. Here is the link to the Child Disability Benefit explanation Child Disability Benefit CRA explanation

For more information on children and income taxes, check out this CRA link:

Back to School Tax Tips for Parents, published by CRA in 2018 provides a good summary of tax tips and related links, about children and income taxes. You will see that the bulletin talks about tutoring expenses and what line of the tax return to claim it on. Here is the link: Back to School Tax Tips from CRA

If you have further questions about tutoring and taxes, please consult the CRA website or call CRA for more information.

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