FAQ – Tax claims for disability expenses

A parent’s medical aid benefits for her son’s occupational therapy have been exhausted and she is not sure if she could claim expenses as a tax deduction. She writes:

My son is at a remedial school as he has learning difficulties.

I have spent tens of thousands on school fees, occupational therapy (OT), speech therapy and various other therapies.

The medical aid benefits for OT and speech therapy have been exhausted.

Can I claim these costs as a deduction on my tax return?

His neurologist filled out the tax disability form and he is “mild”.

Willem Oberholzer of Probity Advisory responds.

We have reviewed the Income Tax Act and section 18(2)(b) provides the deduction of expenses if the taxpayer or his child is a person with a disability.

The legislation relates to all amounts paid by the taxpayer – but not recoverable from a medical aid fund – during the year of assessment to various doctors, hospitals and pharmacies (for prescribed medicine).

It relates to expenditure incurred both inside and outside South Africa and paid in consequence of any physical impairment or disability.

Your child should qualify for a deduction in terms of this section.

In addition, the total contributions made by the taxpayer to a medical aid fund, less four times the Section 6A medical scheme fee tax credit in respect of that taxpayer, may be deducted.

You should, however, note that the amount of deductions for doctors’ cost contributions to the medical scheme, OT and other medial related expenses incurred, will be reduced by four times the medical schemes tax credit.

Assuming, therefore, that you are the member on the medical scheme and your child is the only dependant, the amount with which your deduction will be reduced amounts to (R460 x 12 x 4 = R22 080).

Then the actual costs less the R22 080, should be allowed as a deduction.

In terms of the act a disability means a moderate to severe limitation of the person’s ability to function or perform daily activities as a result of physical, sensory, communication, intellectual or mental impairment, if the limitation has lasted longer or as a prognosis of lasting more than year and it is diagnosed by a duly registered medical practitioner in accordance with the criteria prescribed by the commissioner.

Also please consult the document on the Sars website contained† at this link

You can also file your income tax return on e-filing. That will give you guidance as to what additional information you need to submit.

Alternatively, you can also visit your local Sars office for assistance with the completion of your income tax return and the claiming of the disability expense. †

Income tax is complex and unfortunately I cannot give you a simple “yes you can claim” answer, as there are limitations applicable to the claims, as explained above.