The Ontario Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit gives a bit of a financial boost to Ontario’s senior citizens by refunding them a portion of the amount of money they spend on certain types of public transportation. It’s a refundable tax credit that allows seniors to claim up to $3,000 of eligible transit expenses incurred on or after July 1, 2017, and receive up $450 refunded from the government each year.
Seniors must satisfy two requirements to qualify for this refund:
- The person claiming the credit must be 65 by Jan. 1 of the year for which he is claiming the credit.
- The senior must be living in Ontario on Dec. 1 of the same year.
To illustrate, a person who turns 65 on Feb. 1 or moves away from Ontario on Dec. 1 would not qualify for the refund.
- The refund effective date is July 1, 2017, so only transportation expenses incurred after that date are eligible.
- For 2017, the maximum amount of expenses a senior can claim is $1,500, for a maximum credit of $225.
- For 2018, eligible seniors may claim the amount for the full year up to $3,000 and receive up to $450.
- Only public transport companies operated by the province of Ontario or by municipalities within Ontario are eligible, even if they travel outside the province.
- Transport must be of the type that typically returns passengers within one day.
- Transport must serve the general public.
- Travel may be by bus, subway, train, or tram.
- Specialized services for the disabled are eligible (even if the senior paid cash for the service as described below).
- Expenses for using single-ride tickets or tokens are eligible if the senior has a receipt showing the transit carrier’s name, the purchase date, and the amount paid. The receipt must also show the senior’s name, otherwise a credit card or bank statement showing a record of the purchase is required.
- Taxpayers may claim transit expenses for limited- and unlimited-use passes and purchases made by electronic payment cards such as Presto, but a receipt is required unless the senior can produce the pass or detailed electronic payment card record.
Seniors must normally purchase senior-fare tickets. The adult fare ticket purchases are not eligible for refund unless the carrier does not make senior-fare passes available.
- Expenses paid to private carriers such as Via Rail are not eligible.
- Cash fare for conventional public transit services is not eligible for the OSPTTC; however, cash fares for specialized services are eligible if the taxpayer can establish that he paid for the service by producing a record of booking the ride and proof of taking the ride on the service.
Claiming the Credit
Seniors can claim this credit directly on their personal income tax form. Accountants with clients who are seniors should advise them to save their receipts and explain the eligibility guidelines for this credit. The Canada Revenue Agency website has set up a page that provides more details, tax forms, and answers to commonly asked questions. Seniors who need help preparing their income tax returns or filing for the tax refund can also obtain help for free from volunteers in their community under the Community Volunteer Program.