Yesterday I did something I haven’t had to do in close to ten years…I filled out my son’s Disability Tax Credit form. For those who are not in Canada, and those in Canada who just don’t know, the Disability Tax Credit(DTC) is a credit that people with diabetes who are insulin dependent can use on their taxes to reduce their taxable income. People who receive the DTC are also eligible for the Disabled Tax Savings Plan and children who receive the credit may receive a Disabled Child Benefit through the Child Tax Credit.
The DTC, for people with diabetes, is not given because the government views diabetes as a disability. It is given because people who are insulin dependent require insulin to live–they require Life Sustaining Therapy. Life sustaining therapy is a subcategory of the DTC.
Years ago, I embarked on a lengthy journey to see this tax credit be given to people with diabetes. At that time some people got it, some didn’t. It simply seemed to depend on your stamina and the whim of the the CRA agent processing your application. You can read my real time frustrations here but to make a long story short, after a lengthy time frame, the legislation was amended and people with diabetes were given fair and equal treatment under this act.
Children with diabetes who were under 14 (and arbitrary age pulled off of the Internet by CRA officials) were automatically given the credit by virtue of a diagnosis of diabetes. It was assumed that the time the child and parent spent on care would easily total over 14 hours per week (the time required to qualify as needing Life Sustaining Therapy). This was a huge victory and many of my friends’ children were given the tax credit until they were 16 and even 18 years old. No child was being given the credit for life.
Despite the victory for friends, my application was to be reviewed for my son when he turned 15. I knew it was personal. I wasn’t paranoid honest! I would go to events and see the CRA booth set up. As I walked by and they saw my name, they would instantly recognize me. I was sure that having agents of the Canadian Revenue Agency recognize your name was not a good thing. Visions of audits and extended periods of time spent on my returns haunted my nights.
With this in mind, imagine my anxiety at having to complete a new application for my son? I had been advised that my son’s DTC status would change on January 1, 2013 unless my credit was submitted earlier. We have a diabetes clinic appointment next week and the doctor had told me to bring along the form for her to sign. I was still nervous. Would they recognize the name? My last name has changed. I have gone back to my maiden name. Would they still make the connection with my son and his last name? Would I have to fight to prove that yes, we really and honestly do intensively manage his diabetes care. We really do use up well over 14 hours per week in diabetes related junk? I had won this battle once, thousands have since been granted the applications. They couldn’t hold a grudge forever could they?
My mind was cynical but confident. Others get the credit. I help others, including adults, get the credit. My application would not be denied….then I received an email from a friend. “FYI…in case you didn’t know…” and she proceeded to send me a memo that noted CRA has changed its guidelines. All children under the age of 18 who have diabetes and have applied for the DTC will now be approved without further question. Happy dancin!! Happy dancin!!! This was AWESOME!
My DTC application is ready to go. My heart is light and ideally, CRA will process things in a timely manner and my son’s DTC status will not change in January even for a short period of time. Did I mention…HAPPY DANCE!!!!
What awesome thing have you done because of diabetes? This was Day 5 of Diabetes BlogFest’s question. I apologize for being late, but Blogger was giving me such a hard time that I didn’t get this done when I should but I promise to provide an answer anyway.
There is so much that has happened because Diabetes moved into our lives. I have met amazing friends. I have connected with incredible networks. I have had the privilege to speak with so many people whose families are impacted by diabetes.
I have worked to give back as much as I can. I have done talks on dealing with diabetes and schools here in Canada. I have written letters, articles and talked about diabetes on TV and radio. I have advocated to protect the rights our children with diabetes in school, to get all people living with diabetes insulin pumps and better access to supplies, and a few other things.
One of the most well known of those fights is the fight to have fair and equal access to something called the “Disability Tax Credit“. Before Diabetes I did not know anything about this tax credit (the DTC). I was not that well versed on tax law period. I have always been someone who would voice their opinion on a perceived injustice however. When I applied for this tax credit for my son with Type 1 diabetes, I quickly saw how unjust the tax system was to people with Type 1 diabetes.
I have written about this battle before. The short version goes as follows–I applied for the Disability Tax credit for my son. It was clear to me that he required Life Sustaining Therapy. I had seen what would happen if he did not receive insulin and giving him insulin required most of my day to monitor and adjust. The federal government did not see things quite as clearly as I did and it became my job to educate them.
With the help of an incredible mentor, our story was presented to a committee who was looking at the fairness of the current DTC system. We knew the system to be anything but fair. To get this credit if you had diabetes you had to be strong, have an education and possibly even a lawyer. This was not right.
Through my website, a large number of people joined me in writing letters, questioning the Finance department, and contacting their MP. By the year 2003, the Federal government announced changes in their budget. It was first time that a disease and such a change was announced with the Federal budget. The changes to the DTC would cost over $40million. That is money that would go back into the hands of people living with diabetes. It was a surreal victory that brought me to tears.
Without Diabetes, I would never have known about this problem. I would never have taken up the fight and I would never have been able to help facilitate a change in tax law that continues to help people living with diabetes to this day.