The federal Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is a modest tax measure to assist people with disabilities who are often faced with additional costs not covered by the Medical Expense Tax Credit. Historically, the tax credit was limited to persons who were blind or confined to a bed or wheelchair.
- 1986 Eligibility for the DTC is expanded to include all severely disabled Canadians.
- 1991 Parliament amends the Income Tax Act when concerns are expressed about the broad interpretation of the legislative intent of the DTC. Eligibility is to be determined by specified "basic activities of daily living" for people with physical and mental impairments. In an effort to further limit the number of individuals qualifying for the DTC, the legal test required an individual to be "markedly restricted all or substantially all of the time… or is unable (or requires an inordinate amount of time) to perform a basic activity of daily living."
- 2000 Life-Sustaining Therapy is added as a new category qualifying for the DTC.
- 2001 Letters are sent to 106,000 Canadians with disabilities asking them to requalify for the DTC. Concerns had been raised citing abuses by 80 per cent of patients and their physicians filing invalid claims. Nevertheless, there is a public outcry leading to hearings held by the Subcommittee for the Status of Persons with Disabilities and its report Getting it Right for Canadians: The Disability Act which criticizes the administration of the DTC by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA).
- 2002 House of Commons censures CCRA for practices that were "grossly inadequate." A unanimous vote in the House of Commons called for a more humane and compassionate approach.
- 2003 Technical Advisory Committee on Tax Measures for Persons with Disabilities (TAC) is created with a mandate to help the federal government improve the fairness of the treatment of persons with disabilities under the income tax system. Lembi Buchanan is appointed to the committee.
- 2004 TAC issues its report, Disability Tax Fairness.
- 2005 TAC recommendations lead to the following revisions of the Income Tax Act:
The Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) is appointed by the Minister of National Revenue, the Honourable John McCallum reproting directly to him advising him on the administration of the Disability Tax Credit. Lembi Buchanan and Peter Weissman (chair) are appointed to the DAC.
Mental functions for everyday life is defined as:
- Problem solving, goal setting and judgment (taken together), and
- Adaptive functioning.
Cumulative effect of significant restrictions recognizes significant restrictions in two or more activities of daily living.
Life-sustaining therapy expands eligibility requirements.
TAC recommendations also include the creation of a Disability Advisory Committee (DAC), composed of consumer and professional representatives reporting directly to the Minister of National Revenue on all administrative aspects of the tax system related to persons with disabilities.
- 2006 The Disability Advisory Committee is disbanded by the newly elected Conservative government.
- 2008 Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is created for individuals with disabilities to help ensure their future financial security. Eligibility for the DTC is a requirement to participate in the program.
- 2013 Concerns are expressed in Parliament regarding the rapid growth of companies ("promoters") assisting individuals access the DTC and charging contingency fees up to 40 per cent of the refund.
- 2014 Bill C-462 Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Act is passed in House of Commons and received Royal Assent but has not been implemented to date.
- 2015 Form T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate clarifies that "all or substantially all of the time" is defined by CRA as "at least 90% of the time" even though there is no statutory basis to support such a narrow interpretation of the Income Tax Act. Consequently, many medical practitioners refuse to complete Form T2201 for patients if the effects of the impairment do not conform to the mathematical model.
- 2016 Meeting with elected representative, Murray Rankin, MP for Victoria, BC, to ask the Ministers of Finance and National Revenue to reinstate the DAC because of complaints that CRA is abusing its mandate and denying the DTC to eligible claimants without justification.
- Letters are sent to Ministers of Finance and National Revenue highlighting the systemic barriers faced by people with disabilities when applying for the DTC.
- 2017 Disability Tax Fairness Alliance formed in July by Lembi Buchanan and Peter Weissman. membership includes Diabetes Canada, MS Society, Canadian Mental Health Association, Disability Alliance BC, Council for Canadians with Disabilities and the Schizophrenia Society of Canada. The Alliance creates its own website, dtfalliance.com.
The Disability Advisory Committee is reinstated by the Minister of National Revenue, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier. Lembi Buchanan is appointed to the Committee.
- 2018 The Disability Advisory Committee holds its first meeting in January with the mandate to advise the Minister of National Revenue and Commissioner of the CRA on the adminstration and interpretation of laws and programs for disability-related tax measures administered by the CRA.
- 2019 The Disability Advisory Committee issues its first annual report, Enabling access to tax measures.