2017-0724441E5 Medical expense

Please note that the following document, although believed to be correct at the time of issue, may not represent the current position of the CRA. Prenez note que ce document, bien qu'exact au moment émis, peut ne pas représenter la position actuelle de l'ARC.

Principal Issues: Whether the costs to purchase various items qualify as a medical expense under subsection 118.2(2) of the Income Tax Act.

Position: No.

Reasons: Legislation; previous positions.

Author: Brennan, Christopher

Section: 118.2(2)(i); 118.2(2)(m); Reg 5700(c); Reg 5700(h)

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                                                                                                                        Chris Brennan CPA, CA
April 12, 2018


Re: Medical expenses

This is in reply to your letter of September 26, 2017, regarding the eligibility of specific expenditures for the medical expense tax credit (METC). You asked if the cost of purchasing a custom mattress, custom mattress topper, custom travel pillow, or custom pillow (collectively referred to as the “products”) would be an eligible medical expense for the purpose of the METC. Specifically, you ask whether the products would qualify pursuant to paragraph 118.2(2)(m) of the Income Tax Act (Act), since they are prescribed by a medical practitioner.

You have told us that, generally, the products are prescribed to patients who have complaints of neck pain, back pain, sleep headaches, jaw disorders, sleep apnea, and allergies to fire retardants. The products are customized to the patient based on the patient’s mattress brand, age of mattress, bed frame configuration, and the patients preferred sleep posture.

Our comments

This technical interpretation provides general comments about the provisions of the Act and related legislation (where referenced). It does not confirm the income tax treatment of a particular situation involving a specific taxpayer but is intended to assist you in making that determination. The income tax treatment of particular transactions proposed by a specific taxpayer will only be confirmed by this Directorate in the context of an advance income tax ruling request submitted in the manner set out in Information Circular IC 70-6R7, Advance Income Tax Rulings and Technical Interpretations.

Medical expenses that are eligible for the METC are limited to those described in subsection 118.2(2) of the Act. If a particular expenditure is not described as an eligible medical expense in subsection 118.2(2), or if the conditions under which the expenditure would qualify are not met, the expenditure is not eligible for purposes of the METC, even though the expenditure may have been incurred for medical reasons.

Paragraph 118.2(2)(m) of the Act includes specific devices and equipment not described in any other paragraph of subsection 118.2(2) of the Act. Under paragraph 118.2(2)(m), an amount paid for a device or equipment may qualify as an eligible medical expense if certain conditions are met. Generally, to qualify, the device or equipment must be prescribed by a medical practitioner, must be included in the list of qualifying devices or equipment specified in section 5700 of the Income Tax Regulations (Regulations) and must meet such conditions as are prescribed by the Regulations as to its use or the reason for its acquisition.

Although the products are prescribed by a medical practitioner, custom mattresses, custom mattress toppers, custom travel pillows, and custom pillows are not specified in section 5700 of the Regulations nor described in any paragraph within subsection 118.2(2) of the Act. Therefore, we are of the view that the cost of these products would not be eligible as medical expenses for the purposes of the METC.

We trust the comments provided are of assistance.

Yours truly,


Lita Krantz, CPA, CA
Tax Credits and Ministerial Issues
Business and Employment Division
Income Tax Rulings Directorate
Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch

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