Tax deductions

Delean: Tax deductions for COVID tests treated differently by Quebec and Canada

The issue is not where the test was taken and paid for, but who ordered it.

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The tax treatment of COVID-19 testing and the ownership of joint bank accounts were among the topics raised by readers recently. Here’s what they wanted to know.


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Q: We recently returned from a trip to Switzerland and were required to take a COVID-19 test before returning to Canada. Can this cost be considered a medical expense for tax purposes?

A: This is another case where the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Revenu Quebec disagree (or disagree). The issue is not where the test was taken and paid for, but who ordered it.

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The CRA says that as a general rule, qualifying medical expenses “must be prescribed by a physician.” Medical practitioners are defined as those who are legally authorized in their jurisdiction to provide certain medical services. So unless your COVID-19 test was specifically ordered by a professional, it’s not an allowable cost in the eyes of the CRA.


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Revenu Québec, for its part, says fees paid to a practitioner or health center for COVID-19 testing are allowable medical expenses on the provincial tax return.

Q: In Quebec, when one person in a married couple dies, does a joint bank account automatically go to the other or is it split between the surviving spouse and the estate of the deceased spouse?

A: In Quebec, joint accounts are presumed to be held 50/50, so on the death of one of the account holders, the account would be frozen and the assets split in half. “Half would be distributed to the survivor and the other half should be paid to the deceased account holder’s estate,” said Marissa Lydynia, senior trust advisor for Raymond James Trust (Quebec) Ltd. in Montreal.


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The exception to this would be if the amounts paid into the account were found to be uneven, with documentation to prove it.

“If so, amounts distributable on death to the estate and surviving account holder would be paid out in those proportions,” Lydynia said.

In all scenarios, the estate executor and surviving account holder will need to approve the division of funds.

“A joint account holder may choose to leave their rights to the shared account to the surviving account holder in their will, but this does not happen automatically,” Lydynia said.

Q: I remember hearing that driver’s licenses were supposed to be cheaper. When is it going to start?

A: It will start on January 1. The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec announced last spring that it would waive the insurance portion on regular driver’s license renewals for 2022 and 2023 due to its current strong financial situation. Insurance accounted for $63.93 of the $87.28 cost of a license renewal in 2021. The more than 4.6 million Quebecers with regular licenses and no demerit points will pay $24 for their renewals from 2022 and 2023. There will also be a slight reduction in registration fees for most vehicle owners.


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Drivers with up to nine demerit points, who pay more for license renewals, will also get discounts, but their insurance costs will not be completely eliminated. The 31,000 Quebec drivers who have accumulated 10 or more demerit points will actually be charged more for their renewals in 2022.

Motorcyclists will enjoy a reduction in insurance costs on their license renewal roughly equivalent to the dollar savings on regular licenses.

The Montreal Gazette invites readers to ask questions about taxation, investments and personal finance. If you have a question, please email it to Paul Delean at [email protected]

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