Applications for the disability tax credit (DTC) are grinding to a halt with Canada Revenue Agency employees on strike, say advisors who offer DTC application filing services. That’s leaving clients with disabilities in the lurch.
“[For] people who are attempting to apply [for the DTC] for the first time, there’s nobody to process their applications,” said Shane Nercessian, managing partner of True North Disability Services Ltd. in Vancouver.
Since the public service strike began on April 19, Nercessian said his firm has had only a few DTC approvals, and he couldn’t confirm if those had been updated prior to the strike.
Said Peter Curtis, founder of Disability Tax Results Inc. in Guelph, Ontario: “[DTC applications] are at a complete standstill. There’s just no other way to put it. Nothing is moving forward.”
As for people who have already been approved for the DTC, Nercessian said “there’s nobody there to reassess their tax [returns] to have their refund issued to them.”
A tentative agreement between the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the federal government announced Monday did not apply to CRA members, who remain on strike.
In response to questions from Advisor.ca, the CRA said that “as a result of current labour disruptions, many CRA services are expected to be delayed or unavailable, including applications for, and reassessments related to, the disability tax credit.”
The Canada child benefit, which may include the child disability benefit (CDB) and any related provincial or territorial programs, would continue to operate throughout the labour disruption, the agency said.
The DTC is a non-refundable tax credit that helps people with a disability, or a supporting family member, reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay.
The DTC amount is $9,428 in 2023, with a supplement up to $5,500 for those under 18 that is reduced if child-care expenses are claimed. Individuals who were eligible for the DTC in a past year but did not claim it can claim the credit on tax returns up to 10 years prior.
Approval for the DTC is required to access a variety of other important disability benefits and programs such as the CDB and the RDSP.
If no one is approving the DTC, Nercessian said, it would be impossible for Canadians who don’t already have access to the CDB or the RDSP to access those programs.
He added that there’s little guidance he can give his clients during the work stoppage: “We’re following up with the CRA, we’re following up with physicians, we’re moving the process along as far as we can, but, unfortunately it’s just coming to a stop with regard to the CRA actually processing the reassessments or the applications.”
Curtis said most of his clients have been understanding, so far, that DTC applications are delayed because of the work stoppage.
“Most of them are pretty patient. We haven’t had anyone really panic about getting their refund yet, but I do expect it will happen,” should there not be a resolution to the strike soon, Curtis said. “We do have some folks who are really struggling.”