As of 2003, incremental (additional) costs of Gluten-Free (GF) products are an eligible medical expense on T1 individual tax return.

Individuals who suffer from celiac disease (gluten intolerance) are entitled to claim the incremental costs of purchasing gluten-free (GF) products as a medical expense for the 2003 and subsequent tax years.

However, these individuals are not entitled to claim the Disability tax credit for any extra amount of time it takes to shop for or prepare GF products.


Who can claim the incremental cost of GF products?

Individuals who have a certificate from a medical practitioner that states they require a GF diet because of celiac disease can claim the incremental cost of GF products as an eligible medical expense.


What is the incremental cost?

The incremental cost is the increased cost of purchasing a GF product as compared to the cost of a similar non-GF product. It’s calculated by subtracting the cost of a non-GF product from the cost of a GF product. See a sample calculation here.


What items are eligible?

Generally, the food items are limited to those produced and marketed specifically for GF diets. Such items include, but are not limited to, GF bread, bagels, muffins, and cereals. Intermediate items are allowed where the celiac patient uses the items to make GF products for their exclusive use. These include, but are not limited to, rice flour, GF spices, etc.


What if there are several people consuming the GF products?

If several people consume the products, only the costs related to the part of the product consumed by the individual with celiac disease are to be used in calculating the medical expense tax credit.


What documents do I need to support a claim for the medical expense tax credit?

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is responsible for administering the new medical expense. As with all claims, receipts should be available on request by the CRA. The CRA can make a request for supporting documents after assessment of your return, so it is important to keep the following information available:

  • a letter from the medical practitioner confirming the individual suffers from celiac disease and requires GF products as a result of that disease;
  • a summary of each item purchased during the 12-month period for which expenses are being claimed (a sample summary is shown below); and
  • a receipt to support the cost shown in column (4) of each GF product or intermediate product claimed.

Please visit the Canada Revenue Agency site for more information.

First published in the Inside Tract® newsletter issue 142 – March/April 2004