Tax Court Agrees with Itself that Trips to Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Burma, Ecuador, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica and India Qualify for Medical Expense Tax Credits.

Published by Thorsteinssons LLP

In the recent Tax Court case of Trudy Tallon v. the Queen, Woods, J. was asked to rule on travel and transportation medical expenses tax credits claimed under paragraphs 118.2(2)(g) and (h) by the taxpayer in her 2009 taxation year.  While this may sound routine, the facts upon which the tax credits were claimed were rather unusual.

Trudy Tallon was in the unfortunate position of suffering from chronic pain, the treatment for which was, upon legitimate recommendation by her doctor, absconding from her normal home in Thunder Bay during the winter months for warmer climates.  Additionally, her doctor had certified that, for the taxpayer, “travel without a companion would be ‘extremely difficult… if not impossible.’”  Through what must have been a heroic gesture of solidarity and sacrifice, her husband accompanied her over the years for her various medically-deductible trips to Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Burma, Ecuador, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica and India.   The taxpayer had chosen not to visit the United States due to the medical costs being too high and the climate not being warm enough.

For the taxpayer’s 2008 tax year, the Minister had disallowed similar expenses to those under appeal. These assessments had been overturned by the Tax Court, which ruled for the 2008 year that these expenses were allowable.  The Minister, nevertheless, reassessed the taxpayer’s 2009 taxation year in exactly the same fashion as was overturned by the Tax Court for the 2008 taxation year.  Before the Court, the Minister argued the reasons in Goodwin v. the Queen, where the Tax Court denied the tax credits for short trips to the United States to alleviate the taxpayer’s psoriasis.  Ms. Tallon, not surprisingly, directed the Court to its decision of her case in the immediately preceding year.

Woods, J.  was not entirely unsympathetic to the Ministers cause, but simply found the Minister’s counsel’s presentation lacking.  The court noted that the Minister was asking it to overturn a previous decision without actually providing a copy of that previous decision, and instead attempting to “communicateJjustice Lamarre’s reasons in a general way at the hearing, which [the Court] did not find very illuminating.”  This lack of a previous transcript seems to have overshadowed any other legitimate arguments the Minister could have made.

The Minister offered to have the transcripts sent to the court after the hearing, but ultimately the court determined that that would result in unwarranted delay, especially considering the taxpayer had already driven to Toronto to expedite the proceeding, and ruled against the Minister.

In a final note, Woods J. noted that she was troubled with the number and location of countries that Ms. Tallon had visited, as this would suggest that these locations were not chosen for medical reasons but, as the Crown had not argued the reasonableness requirement in subparagraph 118.2(2)(g)(v) was not satisfied, she was limited in her ability to rule against the taxpayer.