Eating gluten-free is a lifestyle for some, but according to the US based National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, the additional cost for those with Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance) of eating gluten-free ranges from $4,000 to $14,000 over a four-year-period. Thankfully, the Canada Revenue Agency lists gluten-free food products as an eligible medical expense for those with medical need to avoid gluten and they offer a tax-credit to offset the costs. With the start of a new year, I thought it would be a good time to post something about the tax breaks available to those who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease / gluten intolerance.
Living gluten-free is expensive and even though the costs of gluten free products has come down significantly the last few years, a cost-comparison study from September 2013 by Dr. Mohsin Rashid, a gastroenterologist from Halifax found that on average that gluten-free foods are 162% more expensive than their corresponding non-gluten free product. This was reported in the study as “good news” as the cost was down from 242% in 2008.
Although slightly less than 1% of the population is diagnosed with Celiac disease (it’s estimated that up to 83% of people with Celiac disease are still undiagnosed), the demand for gluten-free foods has resulted in a $4.2 billion a year industry. This is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2016. Thankfully, with the increased demand has come increase variety of gluten free products; with the number increasing by nearly 80% between 2005 and 2010.
Financially, there is good news as well, in that that those with with Celiac disease have the opportunity to reduce some of the tax they owe each year through a special tax credit.
The Canada Revenue Agency enables those with Celiac disease to claim the “incremental costs associated with the purchase of gluten-free products as a medical expense”. That is, a person may claim the difference between the cost of their gluten-free food and the cost of comparable regular food. To support your claim for the credit, you’ll need:
- A letter from your doctor on his/her letterhead, confirming your diagnosis
- A physical receipt for each gluten free item that you are claiming
Now this where it gets cumbersome;
- A summary for each item calculating the incremental costs
Unfortunately, the process of tracking one’s gluten free purchases over an entire year and then calculating the incremental difference, is time consuming and tedious. Based on the statistics above, all the work could save a person with Celiac disease between $1,000 to $3,500 per year.
If you have recently been diagnosed with Celiac disease, eating gluten-free is not optional. Learning to do it correctly involves significantly more than no longer eating regular bread or pasta. Gluten is contained in so many food products and even medications, that learning to know how to read food labels as a Celiac will benefit from the expert help of a Registered Dietitian that specializes is food allergies and sensitivities. Learning proper food handling techniques to avoid cross contamination in the kitchen at home is another skill that is indispensable. As for how to eat out in restaurants, that is another area a Dietitian with a specialty in food allergy and food sensitivity could make all the difference in the world. Why not give us a call and find out how we can support you in your gluten-free journey?
Canadian Celiac Foundation http://www.celiac.ca/
Canada Revenue Agency, Incremental Cost of Gluten Free Products http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/rtrn/cmpltng/ddctns/lns300-350/330/clc-eng.html
National Foundation for Celiac Awareness http://www.celiaccentral.org/
Rashid, M and Stevens, L Gluten-free and regular foods: a cost comparison Can J Diet Pract Res. 2008 Fall;69(3):147-50.
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