Can I get a tax deduction for eating gluten-free food?

If you suffer from celiac disease, you may be eligible to get a tax deduction for eating gluten-free food. Here is advice from a Toronto Chartered Accountant.

According to the Canadian Celiac Association, it is estimated that 1 in 133 persons in Canada are affected by celiac disease (gluten intolerance). Currently, there is no known cure for this disease, yet it can usually be effectively treated and controlled with “strict adherence to a gluten-free diet for life”. This requires knowledgeable dietetic counseling and frequent ‘updates’ as commercial food contents change.

Gluten-free products could be quite expensive and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is aware of this. If you suffer from celiac disease, you may be eligible to claim the incremental costs related to purchasing gluten-free food as a medical expense.

What is the incremental cost? And how is it calculated?
The incremental cost is defined as the difference in the cost between gluten-free products compared to the cost of similar products containing gluten. It is simply calculated by subtracting the cost of a product with gluten from the cost of a gluten-free product.

For instance, if a gluten-free loaf of bread costs $5.50 and a loaf of whole wheat bread costs $3, you could write off $2.50 as a medical expense on your income tax return.

What if several people are sharing gluten-free products with me, yet I am the only one who has celiac disease?
According to the CRA, “if several people eat the product, only the costs related to the part of the product that is eaten by the person with celiac disease may be claimed as a medical expense.” For example, if you split your loaf of gluten-free bread with a friend or your spouse, you may only claim half of the expense or $1.

What documents do I require to support the claim?
The CRA states, “Do not send any supporting documents. Keep them in case we ask to see them later.”

You will need to keep all of the following:

  1. A letter from a medical practitioner that certifies that you have celiac disease and cannot eat gluten.
  2. Receipts for each gluten-free food product to backup all your claims.
  3. A summary of each food product that was bought during the 12-month period for which the expenses are being claimed.

What is an example of ‘a summary of each food product’?

Food product: Bread
Number of products bought (for the 12-month period): 52
Average cost of product with gluten: $3.49
Average cost of gluten-free product: $6.99
Incremental cost: $6.99 – $3.49 = 3. 50
Amount to claim: $3.50 x 52 = $182.00

This table is based on a sample provided by the CRA website.

Here is a celiac disease medical expense worksheet. It is intended to help you document your gluten-free purchases. It is beneficial to print several of these sheets off and keep a file with this worksheet and your receipts together. This worksheet was taken from the Canadian Celiac Association.
In summary:

  1. The incremental cost of gluten-free products is an eligible medical expense.
  2. Eligible products are generally marketed specifically to the gluten free diet.
  3. Other products can also be eligible if they are used by the person with celiac. disease to make gluten-free products for their own use. These include, but is not limited to, rice flour and gluten-free spices.
  4. The gluten free tax deduction is only eligible with a medical note with a diagnosis of celiac disease.
  5. A summary of each purchase of gluten free products must be kept on file.
  6. A receipt for each purchase must be kept on file as well.

Related: Eligible medical expenses you can claim on your tax return

About S & P Accounting Services

S & P Accounting Services is a professional accounting firm situated in North York, Ontario. We are chartered accountants with extensive experience with audit, review, tax and bookkeeping. We strive to operate in accordance with our principles of quality, professionalism, and integrity and are dedicated to excellent service.  We aim to ensure that our clients receive the highest quality of financial, tax and accounting services and advice. We happily serve clients in Toronto, North York, Mississauga, Vaughan, Richmond Hill and in other cities in the GTA.

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