A gluten-free lifestyle could mean some savings on your tax return, but many celiac sufferers don't bother to take advantage of the offer.

People with celiac disease have an intolerance to gluten, the protein found in wheat products.

Gluten-free food can often be more expensive than regular food and the Canada Revenue Agency has offset the cost of managing the disease since 2003.


Celiac sufferer Sandra Gills has been calculating her gluten-free purchases for the last two years. (CBC)

People with celiac disease can claim the incremental costs associated with the purchase of gluten-free products as a medical expense.

Sandra Gills has been keeping track of her spending for the past two years because both her son and daughter have been diagnosed with celiac disease. She owns her own online store specializing in gluten-free food. 

"What they really want to see is a spreadsheet that shows how many you bought, what’s the average price of them, what's the price of the equivalent in a gluten product and the difference is what you can claim," she said.

Process can be time consuming

People making a claim must have a letter from a doctor, confirming they suffer from celiac disease and require gluten-free products as a result.

"It's just like people who have to buy medication," said Kathy Collier, Calgary program co-ordinator for the Canadian Celiac Association.

"Celiac disease does not require medication, it's strictly controlled by diet and the cost of gluten-free food is quite a bit more than regular food."


Canadian Celiac Association's Kathy Collier feels more people would use the tax break if the process was easier. CBC

But Collier said having to calculate every item purchased compared to the cost of gluten food is time consuming, but could be important for someone with a limited income.  

She believes more people, including herself, would take advantage of the tax credit if it were easier.

"I believe if it was a set amount, where it was a limit if you have celiac disease you put this on this line and it just automatically calculated through, a lot more people would use it," said Collier.

Gills agrees the process could be easier, but until then she plans to continue keeping track of her purchases.