Quebec seniors: there's an activity tax credit designed especially for you


If you're a senior who does their own taxes or you have someone prepare them for you, you may already know about the Quebec government's tax credit for seniors' activities.

But if you don't, it's a credit you may want to consider claiming when you file next year's taxes. Since it's a refundable tax credit, it can help you reduce the amount of tax you owe to below zero and if you qualify for a refund, add to the amount you get back from the government.

The purpose of the credit? To encourage low-to-moderate income seniors ages 70 and up to get involved in physical, artistic, cultural or recreational activities, something you may already be doing.

On the physical side of things this can include such activities as swimming, aquatic gymnastics, dance, yoga or tai chi, horseback riding, hiking and cycling, a winter sport such as cross-country skiing or even curling, golf, or bowling.

When it comes to eligible artistic, cultural and recreational activities, there's plenty of choice since Revenu Québec defines an activity as: “…any activity that is intended to enhance seniors' ability to develop creative skills or expertise, acquire and apply knowledge, or improve dexterity or coordination, in an artistic or cultural discipline.”

Qualifying activities include literary arts (poetry, novels, storytelling, narrative literature and novellas); visual arts (photography, painting, drawing and sculpture); and crafts (embroidery, sewing, crocheting, weaving and knitting). You can claim the credit if you're involved in singing, music or theatre or if you're learning languages.

An activity that “provides a substantial focus on wilderness and the natural environment” qualifies. So does anything that "provides a substantial focus on the use of information and communication technologies.”

You can claim the credit for your involvement with a bridge, chess or Scrabble club since it “assists with the development and use of intellectual skills.”

Cooking, woodworking and making fishing flies qualify too since they, “provide a focus on the acquisition of skills.”

But the credit has a number of conditions. Any physical, artistic, cultural, or recreational activities you claim need to be part of a program that lasts at least eight consecutive weeks or five consecutive days. According to Revenu Québec, you're eligible too if the activities are offered by a club, association or similar organization of which you were a member for at least eight consecutive weeks.

Be sure to request a receipt for any registration or membership fees you pay and keep the receipt in case the government asks to see it.

As well, you must be a resident of Quebec on December 31 of the year you're claiming for. In terms of income, in 2016 your income needed to be equal to or less than $40,865 and the rules for 2017 will likely be similar.

While this tax credit is only equal to 20 percent of the total fees you pay, up to a maximum of $40, it's still worth claiming.

After all, when you're on a budget, every little bit helps.

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