Herbs may be good for you, but they are not deductible

National Post

2001-04-14



Canadians everywhere are scrambling to gather their various tax slips,
including medical receipts, to be able to prepare their tax returns. Under the
tax rules, an individual may be able to claim a non-refundable tax credit for
valid medical expenses. A recent tax case heard in February involved a
Saskatchewan taxpayer who attempted to claim the costs of certain vitamins,
minerals, herbal remedies and supplements on her 1998 tax return as a medical
expense. The taxpayer and her family had a long history of medical problems of
one kind or another, including a daughter with Lupus as well as a husband who
had pneumonia more than a dozen times. After going to several doctors who
prescribed various medicines and other experimental drugs which did not work,
the family decided to visit a vendor of homeopathic medicines. The taxpayer
purchased various herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other remedies, and apparently
these were quite successful in assisting with the ailments of the taxpayer and
her family. Under the tax law, a medical expense includes medications sold for
the treatment or prevention of various diseases and purchased for use by an
individual as prescribed by a doctor and sold through a pharmacist. Herbal
preparations, vitamins and other items that the taxpayer purchased are not
allowable expenses. Because this is a key condition under the Income Tax Act and
it was not met, the judge, who expressed great sympathy for the taxpayer, found
the expenses were not valid medical expenses. The judge explained that it is
certainly logical, under the tax rules, that the government requires certain
medications to be prescribed as there is little control on either the labelling
or the sale of alternative medicines. However, the judge added, 'sooner or later

I think the government is going to have to face the fact that homeopathic
medicines, alternative forms of treatments, herbs, natural healing, that sort of
thing are so prevalent it should consider an amendment to the Income Tax Act
that would permit a tax credit.' In the meantime, while Canadians are free to
explore alternative treatment, they shouldn't look toward their tax returns for
any additional relief.