Canada Revenue Agency

For the second year in a row, my tax refund is being held up by the pre-assessment review process.

In 2010, Corbin had major mental health issues that required hospitalization twice at CPRI (a facility operated by the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Health) in London, Ontario. Part of the treatment plan approved by CPRI and ourselves, was for Corbin to come home for weekends. Corbin suffers from attachment disorder and both the medical staff and Tina and myself agreed that it was prudent that Corbin not be away from his family for long periods of time.

The treatment plan also required that we visit with the pediatrician, psychiatrists, social workers and other staff at CPRI. Due to Corbin’s complex neurological and mental health diagnoses, much of the ‘treatment’ falls on us, the parents. So over the two hospitalization period, were were travelling to London twice or three times a week.

Per the medical expense claim guidelines, trips for medical purposes can be claimed as a medical expense. We did not claim any trips that were for visiting purposes. We only claimed trips for the weekends and for meetings/appointments with CPRI staff. After Corbin was discharged, we had numerous appointments with doctors and psychologists. So I claimed them at the rates described in the medical expense guidelines.

The medical claim for the 2010 tax year was a higher than usual amount. I figured that CRA may ask for proof. And they did as part of the pre-assessment review.  I worked my butt off. I got a copy of every receipt, a copy of every medical report that CPRI prepares after any visit, a copy of the treatment plan and a copy of the intake and discharge dates. I prepared a spreadsheet outlining every trip to CPRI and wrote a detailed letter of all the medical expense claims. I was impressed with the two-inch thick of documents. ‘How could they deny the claims with all this detailed information’ I thought.

Well they turned down all the claims relating to CPRI. Every. Single. One. They asked for ‘more’ information including intake and discharge dates. It was at that moment I knew that CRA didn’t even bother looking through my documents I sent them. If they did, they would have seen documents with those dates – documents I referenced in my detailed letter to them.

By the time I heard back from CRA, we were having another crisis during the summer followed by another in the fall. I just didn’t have the time or energy to fight CRA. So I didn’t bother appealing the reassessment – I heard that appeals can take one, two or more years to be reviewed. My energy was better invested in stabilizing my family than fighting a huge bureaucracy, one that can apparently easily dismiss hard evidence simply by having a nameless bureaucrat ‘write’ a letter.

Fast forward to 2012 and guess what? Yet another pre-assessment review letter. This time they are questioning the “Disability Amount Transferred From a Dependent” amount and my “Annual Union, Professional or like Dues” amount.

Hey CRA, you have a Disability Tax Credit Certificate for Corbin on file. You have been giving me that claim for 9 years now. In fact, I had you revise three years of my returns when the first Certificate was back dated to before we adopted Corbin (well only after I called you four months after I submitted my request to review previous tax returns). Now you want me to provide his name, SIN date of birth – you have that information. I haven’t ‘changed’ or ‘swapped’ kids!

So I’ll have to submit another detailed letter and wait. So much for those TV ads encouraging Canadian tax payers to claim all their tax credits.

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