Canada's Federal Court of Appeals has ruled that bottled water, organic food and vitamins are not valid income tax deductions for those resorting to non-traditional medical treatments.
A three-judge panel has overturned an earlier court decision that had allowed Rhonda Ray of Aurora, Ont., to receive a tax credit for $6,555 in grocery bills from health food stores in 1999.
Ray submitted the bills to the federal government to document her need for organic products for a non-chemical regime prescribed by her doctor to treat her chronic fatigue syndrome, chemical sensitivity and immune dysfunction syndrome.
The case was a test of how far the Income Tax Act would go in recognizing non-traditional treatments for illnesses such as chronic fatigue and environmental sensitivity.
The Federal Court of Appeal based today's decision on a strict interpretation of the act, which allows Canadians to claim only those drugs that have been prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacist – a regulation on the books since 1958.
Ray's doctor did prescribe her diet, which proved to be more effective for her than traditional medication, but the items did not meet the legislative requirement to be "recorded by a pharmacist."
Her tax return included pages of grocery bills from organic food stores and contained items such as bananas, broccoli, cashews, oat bran, dairy products, bottled water and vitamins.