Although people with disabilities are entitled to certain rebates from SARS, claiming them is not simple. Disability tax specialist Jaco Kruger provides some insight.
Creating awareness among the various disability organisations and groups in South Africa is of the utmost importance. I am a parent of a 26-year-old with a disability, and in my experience taxpayers and parents are not adequately informed about the tax benefits in terms of disability. Interpretation of these guidelines and the presentation of the claimable items play a pivotal role.
Note that these deductions are only allowed for people with disabilities who are the taxpayer, and for their spouses and their dependants.
What do you need to know?
Some of the important requirements to note:
This is the medical form that must be completed by the relevant medical specialist (not a general practitioner) who is qualified to express an opinion and or diagnose the disability at hand. Note that this form must be completed very accurately. No areas that require completion must be left blank. Everything must be done correctly, from a stamp and the date of diagnosis on page five to the relevant disability marked on pages three and four.
• What defines a disability?
The degree of the impairment (mild, moderate or severe) of someone’s ability to conduct their daily activity is a significant factor. There is a major difference in the treatment of your refundable amount when the impairment is marked as “mild” versus “moderate” on a form.
• What can be claimed?
There is a list of qualifying items listed on the South African Revenue Service (SARS) medical and disability guide (LAPD-IT-GO7). Note that any costs incurred by a taxpayer can only be claimed by that taxpayer and only if it has not have been paid by the medical aid.
• Presentation of your claim
This must be done in a structured way, with the correct documentation and adequately referenced. For example, a claim for the use of a private vehicle for obtaining services (as a consequence of disability) must be accompanied by a daily logbook, schedule of calculations and other supporting documentation.
When someone has their wheelchair insured, for instance, they can also claim a part of the insurance premium. This applies to other assistive devices too, such as hearing aids. The correct documentation for the different types of costs you claim is crucial as it forms part of more than 80 percent of your success rate.
Note that documentation is different for each individual disability and the circumstances.
The refundable amount is always limited to the amount of tax you pay over to SARS. Often, I find that the medical and/or disability expenses are paid by the spouse, whereby he or she can’t recover the entire cost claimed and hence restructuring is needed. Some taxpayers have had mixed success in claiming for their expenses when attempting to do it themselves. Yet, whether all the expenses are claimed and correctly claimed is the question.
The requirements and documentation are very strict now and has become a very specialised field. I urge all taxpayers to seek the services of a specialist in terms of claiming for disability costs to ensure their claim is in line with what they are entitled to.