If a relative with a mental or physical infirmity is dependent upon you for support, you may qualify for one of the tax credits discussed below in respect of the dependant. The monetary amounts listed are for 2017; the amounts are indexed each year for inflation.
Caregiver tax credit: This credit is allowed if the infirm dependent is 18 years or older, is dependent upon you, and lives with you in the year. The credit with respect to each infirm dependent for 2017 is 15% x ($6,883 minus the amount, if any, by which the dependant’s net income exceeds $16,163). Thus, the credit is reduced or eliminated if the dependant’s net income exceeds the $16,163 threshold. A smaller credit is allowed in respect of non-infirm parents or grandparents who live with you and are 65 or over.
Infirm dependant tax credit: This credit is allowed if the related infirm dependent is 18 years or older and is dependent upon you in the year. Unlike the caregiver credit, the dependant is not required to live with you. The credit for 2017 equals 15% x ($6,883 minus the amount, if any, by which the dependant’s net income exceeds $6,902).
Equivalent-to-spouse credit: If you are not married or in a common-law partnership, you can claim the credit for a related infirm dependant that lives with you. The credit is 15% x ($13,785 minus the dependent’s net income). A smaller credit is allowed in respect of healthy parents or grandparents or minor children who live with you.
If you would otherwise qualify for two or three of these credits, you can only claim one of them for a particular dependant for a particular year. The order of priority is:
- Equivalent to spouse
- Infirm dependant
In other words, the equivalent-to-spouse credit takes precedence over the two others, and the caregiver takes precedence over the infirm dependant. Of course, if you qualify for only one credit, you just claim that one.
You are unmarried and your 19-year old infirm son is dependent upon you and lives with you. At first blush, it appears that all three credits potentially apply. However, because of the order of priority, you would claim the equivalent-to-spouse credit.
Note that if the caregiver credit would exceed the equivalent-to-spouse credit, you would still claim the latter, but you would get a “top-up” of the credit to equal to the excess, if any.
Number of credits that can be claimed
You can claim only one of the above credits per dependent per year.
You can claim only one equivalent-to-spouse credit per year.
You can claim more than one caregiver or infirm dependant credit if you support more than one dependant.