The Government of Canada has issued a release stating that its children’s fitness tax credit will be doubled and made refundable next year.
This means that the 2015 tax submissions for the 2014 tax year will be the first time parents can claim up to $1,000, double the $500 they could claim before for providing their children with organized physical activity programs.
Low-income families will also benefit, as the ‘refundable’ nature of the claim allows parents whose incomes are too low to pay taxes also eligible.
“Our government recognizes the impact that expenses for sports activities can have on families, particularly those with lower incomes,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the announcement last week.
The credit applies to children under 16 at the beginning of the year in which the expenses were paid or under 18 for the disability amount.
“Eligible activities include strenuous games such as hockey or soccer, activities such as golf lessons, horseback riding, sailing and bowling, as well as others that require a similar level of physical activity. Fees charged for extra-curricular programs that take place in school may be eligible,” the government stated.
For Prince Rupert citizens, recreation director Willa Thorpe expected this news to have quite a positive impact on area families with children.
“That would be invaluable for us,” said Thorpe.
“We’ve got a mixed demographic here in Rupert and we’ve got lots of single-parent families [this could help] … Increased funding from the government shows that our leaders are also indicating that access to recreation and physical activity is critical and I’d be the first one to tell you that, in my mind, recreation is an essential service.”
Thorpe added that everyone, especially children, should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
“We’ve got to get our little guys out there and active as much as we can,” she said.
The original credit was introduced in 2006 and will affect approximately 850,000 families in Canada, the government’s projections estimate.