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Published: March 9, 2020

Last Updated: April 17, 2020

The Income Tax Act (ITA) allows individuals to claim a medical expense tax credit in respect of travel expenses incurred when a patient requires medical treatment at least 80 kilometres away from their home. Therefore, you may be able to claim a deduction on your income tax return if you incurred reasonable travel expenses associated with transporting an individual from one locality to another in order to seek medical treatment.

The conditions to deduct such travel expenses are as follows:

  • Substantially equivalent medical services are not available in that locality
  • The route travelled by the patient is, having regard to the circumstances, a reasonably direct route
  • The patient travels to that place to obtain medical services for himself or herself and it is reasonable, having regard to the circumstances, for the patient to travel to that place to obtain those services.

For example, if you accompany your spouse to seek medical services 80 or more kilometers away from your home, you may deduct the travel expenses incurred as part of the transportation of your spouse. If you choose to stay with your spouse while your spouse receives medical treatment, you can also claim the travel expenses for the duration of your stay. In addition, when you accompany your spouse back home, you may also claim the costs associated with the return trip home. However, the travel expenses can only be claimed if your spouse could not receive substantially equivalent medical treatment near your home, the route traveled by you and your spouse was a reasonably direct route and it was reasonable for your spouse to travel to that particular location in order to obtain medical care.

According to information found on Canada Revenue Agency’s (“CRA’s”) website, CRA indicates that an individual may not claim the travel expenses associated with visiting a patient. In the above example, if you had accompanied your spouse to seek medical treatment and then returned back home, you may claim the costs associated with that trip. If you then visit your spouse while your spouse is receiving medical treatment, you may not claim the travel expenses associated with that visit.

The recent ruling of Woods J. in Jordan v. HMQ [2012-2088(IT)I] challenges this position that CRA took. In Jordan, the taxpayer’s spouse was required to travel from her home in Weyburn, Saskatchewan to Regina, Saskatchewan to receive medical treatment. The taxpayer accompanied his spouse on the trip from Weyburn to Regina and back to Weyburn when she finished treatment six months later. The Minister allowed the medical expense tax credit in respect of the one round trip which took place when the taxpayer accompanied his spouse to Regina and back to Weyburn. However, during the six months while the taxpayer’s spouse was located in Regina, the taxpayer made multiple trips from Weyburn to Regina to visit his spouse and assist with her recovery. The Minister disallowed the expenses associated with these trips.

Wood J. relied on Bell v. The Queen [2009 TCC 523] which states that of the provision of the Tax Act that permits the deduction “was aimed not simply at the cost of moving the patient, but at those additional expenses incurred by a patient, or the personal accompanying the patient, during the time between first leaving home to go to the place of medical treatment, and returning home after the treatment is completed”. Applying the principle in Bell, Wood J. found that there was no difference between living expenses incurred away from home (as in Bell), and the motor vehicle expenses incurred to travel back and forth between Weyburn and Regina, and thus allowed the taxpayer to claim the expenses he incurred while visiting his spouse.

If CRA is auditing you with respect to the deductions you have claimed for medical travel expenses or has denied those deductions, contact our experienced tax lawyers to find out more and schedule an initial consultation.


"This article provides information of a general nature only. It is only current at the posting date. It is not updated and it may no longer be current. It does not provide legal advice nor can it or should it be relied upon. All tax situations are specific to their facts and will differ from the situations in the articles. If you have specific legal questions you should consult a lawyer."

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