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SARS and medical disability

We receive many relevant questions from our users about what they can claim as a tax deduction if they or one of their dependants suffers from a disability. This week, we will focus on this issue and hopefully help other taxpayers out there who may have the same questions.

1.  I have been caring for my disabled sister since 2015. I bought a new vehicle to drive her to and from school. Can I claim part, or all, of the vehicle cost as a tax deduction?

A: You unfortunately can’t claim a tax deduction for the vehicle that you purchased, but you may be able to claim a deduction for the fuel expense that you incurred, as long as it is to a specialised school and such a school is not available within a 10km radius of where your sister lives. Please enter your travel costs under the medical section on your return and indicate on there that one of your dependants is disabled so that SARS can take these into account when calculating your medical credit.

2. I lodged a dispute with SARS for my 2016 tax return as they did not allow all the medical costs that I incurred for my adult disabled son. They disallowed the dispute and said that I could not claim these expenses because he is working. Am I not allowed to claim a deduction for these medical expenses I incurred whilst caring for him?

A: Yes, you are allowed to claim these expenses, it is however in your best interest that you ‘over share’ your expenses with SARS, meaning that you add a letter explaining the expenses that you incurred, and why you are claiming for them. Also attach the ITR-DD that your medical practitioner completed and each invoice and proof of payment for these expenses. Please resubmit your dispute so that SARS can go through your claim again.

3. Can I claim for the fuel I use while dropping my neighbour’s disabled child at school each day? She does pay me, but it does not cover the annual wear and tear of the vehicle too.

A: You unfortunately can’t claim a deduction for the wear and tear of your vehicle under the medical disability section as you were already paid for the service that you rendered. You can however claim the wear and tear on the vehicle from SARS under the local business section on your return as the income that you earned from your neighbour is regarded as a separate business / additional income and you should be declaring this to SARS.

4. I have a slight disability for the past 2 years. I have been informed by SARS that I can only claim medical costs incurred related to this disability that were not reimbursed by my medical aid. Other people disagree- is what I have been told by SARS correct?

A: You would not be able to claim any money that the medical aid pays or reimburses you for your medication. You can however, claim the medical aid monthly contribution and the out of pocket expenses that you personally incurred and that the medical aid did not cover.

5. My Partner was diagnosed in 2010 with epilepsy. Since he was medically boarded in 2011, I have paid for all of his medical expenses. Can I claim for any of these medical costs?

A: The items allowed to be claimed when expended by people suffering from epilepsy or their spouse if they paid for it, are:

  • Helmets (protective gear) used by people with epilepsy to prevent injury, especially head injuries during seizures.
  • Specialised anti-glare screens for televisions and computers used by a person with photosensitive epilepsy to minimise exposure to seizures.
  • Air conditioner, heater, fan, air filter, cleaner, or purifier and environment control system (computerised or electronic) to prevent hypothermia or hyperthermia for a person with spinal cord injury or as required by a person with epilepsy.

Of course, these are examples, but yes, epilepsy would qualify as a disability if diagnosed by a registered medical professional. You would need to ensure you have a ITR-DD completed and signed off by a Doctor within the last 5 years.

6.  I am a police officer earning R19 000 per month. I am on the Polmed medical aid and I paid R13 000 out of my pocket when I went for an operation as this was above medical aid rates. I do have the payment receipt. Can I claim this expense back from SARS? If yes, can you tell me what portion I will get back if I can claim? I also have a daughter who is on chronic medication for the last 11 years as she suffers from epilepsy. Does she fall under the disability act with SARS, and if I register her as a "disabled" child, would this have any positive impact on my claim? I would like to know if I need a doctor’s motivational letter for my daughter’s disability which I can get from her Neurologist or is there a Proforma letter to fill in on eFiling? How do I mention this when I'm doing my eFiling return?

A: If you register her as disabled on your SARS tax return, then yes, all the medical expenses you personally incur will be used in the formula to calculate your medical tax credit. If you don’t register her as disabled however, your out of pocket expenses would most likely fall under the threshold for out of pocket expenses and therefore there would not be any additional medical credit due to you. Therefore yes, it would be beneficial from a tax perspective to register her as disabled. To do this, you must add that you have a disabled member on your medical aid under the medical section on you return. You then need to complete a form called the ITR-DD which needs to be signed off by her neurologist as well.

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