Faculty Author Type

Current Faculty [David Duff]

Published In

McGill Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date



Disability; Income Tax


The federal Income Tax Act contains an extensive number of provisions addressing the taxation of families with disabled persons. These provisions, however, have been the subject of a series of ongoing incremental adjustments, and do not reflect a comprehensive and coherent approach to the taxation of these individuals in light of their unique financial circumstances. This article considers the existing income tax provisions regarding families with disabled persons, analyzing the relationship between disabilities and appropriate tax liabilities, and providing suggestions for reform of the current tax structure. Focussing on the goals of tax policy narrowly defined as compared to the broader social policy goals that may be pursued through the tax system, the article evaluates in turn (i) existing provisions aimed at recognizing the costs of disability for disabled individuals and their families; (ii) tax measures designed to facilitate participation by disabled persons in the paid labour force; and (iii) current tax rules on income support for disabled persons who have difficulty supporting themselves. In each of these areas, the article undertakes critical analysis of the present tax provisions and makes proposals for their improvement or replacement, bearing in mind the overriding rationale of promoting horizontal equity between individuals with and without disabilities and between persons who support disabled individuals and persons without such support obligations.



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