Claiming the Eligible Dependant Credit
Claiming the eligible dependant credit is not as straightforward as many of the other credits parents and caretakers can claim. While all parents can claim their children’s medical expenses, tuition and the Canada child tax benefit, only a select few may claim the eligible dependant credit. In some cases, you may be able to claim this credit for a dependent who is not a minor.
Formerly referred to as the equivalent-to-spouse amount, the eligible dependent credit is designed for single adults who are not claiming the spouse/common-law partner credit and who are responsible for the financial care of a relative. Single parents and separated parents who are not supported by or living with the other parent of their children may also claim this credit in certain cases.
To claim the credit, the dependent must live with you in a home you maintain. For example, if you take care of a dependant, but you live in a home maintained by your parents or someone else, you may not claim this credit. You also cannot make an eligible dependent claim for someone who was only visiting you.
For the purposes of the eligible dependant credit, the dependant may be your parent or grandparent through birth, adoption, marriage or common-law partnership. Children under the age of 18 who are your children, grandchildren, brothers or sisters through birth, adoption, marriage or common-law partnership may also be considered eligible dependants.
For you to claim the eligible dependant credit, the dependant’s earnings must be less than the current year limits (these change yearly, see this CRA link for current year amounts). If you claim the family caregiver amount on behalf of your dependant, there is also a maximum earning amount per year.
Exceptions to Eligibility
In some cases, even if you meet the criteria for claiming the eligible dependant claim, you are still not allowed to make the claim. In particular, if someone else is declaring the dependant as a spouse/common-law partner on a tax return, you cannot claim that person as your dependant. For example, if your grandmother is dependent on you but your grandfather claims the spouse credit for her, you cannot claim her as a dependant, regardless of how involved you are in her care.
Additionally, only one person per household is allowed to make this claim, regardless of the number of dependants in the house. If you and another parent share custody of the child or if you both contribute to the child’s care, you must agree on who should take this credit. If you do not agree, neither of you may claim it.