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Special Needs recipients, don’t get shortchanged!

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Most people on Income Assistance in Nova Scotia don’t know this, but they should.

Come income tax time, if you report your Special Needs allowance as income then your GST rebate will be larger. There is a blog post by Erica Lewis on the Halifax Media Co-op site that explains it all.

Now people’s eyes typically glaze over when the topic is income tax, but hang in there. There is money to be gained here. And we all know people on welfare can use every penny they can get their hands on.     

This is the scoop.

When Erica fills out Line 145 of her tax form she doesn’t just report the amount mentioned on the T5007 form mailed out by Community Services, she adds the yearly amount of her special needs allowance.  

“I photocopied all twelve of my cheque stubs and sent them off with my tax return. I included a note to explain why the amount on the T5007 form was less than the amount of income I reported on line 145 of the return. I requested that my GST rebate be based on my full income so that I may receive the maximum benefits to which I am entitled,” writes Erica.

It works!

“I am happy to say that every year, for the last 15 years, Revenue Canada has indeed based my GST rebate on the higher amount,” Erica writes.

Just to make sure, I checked with Karen Lightstone, an Associate Professor at the Department of Accounting at Saint Mary’s University.

Karen in turn checked with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). This is what she reports.

“Per CRA, people who are on social assistance and in receipt of additional funds not reported on their T5007 may include the additional funds on Line 145 and again on Line 250 of their tax return.

“HOWEVER, they say that if CRA asks you what this additional amount relates to and you cannot provide supporting documents they may reassess your return. If they do that and you have received the HST rebate (which is calculated using the information on line 236) you could have to repay some of the HST rebate.

“My take is, people who have received special assistance not included on their T5007 form have used that money to pay for things for which they have paid HST. Therefore, regardless of whether the income is taxable (which it is not) they should be entitled to the HST rebate based on all money received.”

Keep in mind that Community Services does not consider your GST rebate chargeable income, so it will not affect your ESIA payments (section 5.9.1 of the ESIA policy manual).

If it weren’t for Erica so generously sharing what she discovered we still would be in the dark.


In other income tax news:

Nova Scotia Acorn will be hosting tax preparation sessions throughout March and April on Saturdays from 1-5 pm and Mondays from 3-7pm.

By appointment only!

All of our taxes are prepared by CRA certified volunteers.Get your taxes done for FREE at our Nova Scotia ACORN Free Income Tax Site!  

Don’t give your hard earned money to predatory lenders like Money Mart!



  1. Does this mean people in the Independent Living Program and Continuing Care? Or is it people on income assistance but get a bit extra money for having certain conditions?

    1. People on income assistance who are ill or live with a disability. Special Needs is the name of the program that pays for special diets and other needs. Well, that’s the claim at least.

      1. Darn it, my taxes already got filed. A friend of the family does them. Can they be redone and what do I tell him so he knows what to put for me to get the extra money?

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