Last January, when we were preparing our income tax return, we made the decision to claim all of my Lyme-related expenses. I checked the Canada Revenue Agency guidelines, and medical treatments that are obtained outside of Canada are eligible for the medical deduction, provided that those services are not available in Canada.
Well, as you all know by now, long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease is NOT available in Canada. Therefore, we went ahead and claimed the physicians' bills, travel costs, accommodation, meals, IGeneX tests, other lab work in the U.S., as well as payments to other paramedical practitioners who supported me throughout my ordeal, e.g. naturopath and psychologist. Our total came to around $9 000.
Because we had e-filed the tax return, the CRA later requested that we send in all of the pertinent documents, receipts, etc. to support our claim. This was no problem, as we had everything well documented and organized. The only thing that might have caused this situation to turn disastrous was the requirement that my Canadian doctor submit a letter stating that the treatment I received in the U.S. was not available in Canada.
Immediately I had my doubts that my physician would comply with this request. I hoped that the doctor would see that they only had to make a simple declaration, which really had nothing to do with whether they actually agreed with the treatment. It should have been cut-and-dried. But as I suspected, this doctor refused to issue the letter I needed. My doctor told me that it was my choice to seek this treatment, that antibiotics are available in Canada, and that this kind of treatment is not what the CRA is talking about when referring to income tax deductions. The doctor was very adamant about this. I explained my point of view, to no avail. So, I left my appointment empty-handed.
This caused us a great deal of stress, knowing that we were likely in for a fight with the CRA. But more than that, I left that conversation with my doctor with a heavy heart and great disappointment. Did this doctor, whom I have known for over 20 years, not believe my Lyme diagnosis? I had hoped that after seeing my miraculous recovery over the course of the previous 16 months, that they would have been persuaded that there was truth to this whole Lyme situation, and that perhaps the medical community needed to re-visit and update the guidelines for treatment. What will it take for doctors to believe that 3 weeks of antibiotics is NOT enough to cure Lyme disease? There are so many people, like myself, who are living proof that the long-term treatment works!
This past summer, my hubby and I gathered all of our documents to send to the Canada Revenue Agency, along with a letter of explanation for why we could not obtain a statement from my doctor that the treatment is not available in Canada. We briefly explained the political situation surrounding Lyme disease, the differing opinions regarding treatment, and the fact that there is currently a bill in Parliament (Elizabeth May's bill C-442) which is calling for a review of the current practices regarding Lyme Disease in Canada. In the meantime, I also investigated what lawyer I might call should the CRA refuse our medical claim.
We waited a couple of months for the CRA's decision, and today, we finally received our letter in the mail! The CRA had concluded its review of our documents, and it approved ALL of our medical claims! (And without the doctor's note!) My kids had a chuckle as I did my happy dance! (...which, by the way, would have been a physical impossibility a year and a half ago.)
I truly hope that this has set some sort of precedent with the CRA. I love endings like this. What a sweet victory!