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Have the Government Help Pay For Your Vacation

14/10/2011


The majority of families in Canada look forward to a vacation as a time to get away from the everyday routine of work and school and to relax and spend time with the family. In today’s economy, costs are one of the more important considerations that families use in determining where and how long that vacation will last. It would be more effective if businesses such as resorts, hotels and bed and breakfast establishments could use Government help to attract families to stay with them. This can be accomplished by offering programs that enable families to qualify for the children’s fitness tax credit.

The purpose of the fitness tax credit is to facilitate access by children and youth to physical activity and recreation programs, as a means of helping them maintain a healthy active lifestyle. To be eligible for the children's fitness tax credit, expenses must be for a child who, at the beginning of the year in which the expenses are paid, is under 16, or is under 18 and is eligible for the disability tax credit. The expenses must be for the cost of the child's registration or membership in a prescribed program of physical activity. For a program to qualify, it would meet the following conditions:

  • be ongoing (either a minimum of eight consecutive weeks long or, for children's camps, five consecutive days long);
  • be supervised;
  • be suitable for children; and
  • include a significant amount of physical activity that contributes to cardiorespiratory endurance, plus muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and/or balance.

The activities, although not exhaustive that qualify would include hockey, soccer, skiing, biking, hiking, horseback riding and golf.

Certain activities that would not qualify for the tax credit are those where the child rides on or in a motorized vehicle as an essential part of the activity, unsupervised activities, or those that are part of a regular school program. The legislation does not indicate how long the program must be conducted on a daily basis to be eligible for the tax credit, the government has mentioned that activities that last for 45 minutes to 1 hour would qualify so long as the program meets all the other conditions.

For example, a family of four that spends a week’s vacation at an upscale resort could spend up to $200 a night for lodging (excluding taxes) for a total cost of $1,400. If the same family were to register their two children in this membership program at a fee of $350 per child, the family would be entitled to a 50% reduction off of their room rates. For the resort or business, it would receive the same amount of fees as it would have if it just offered the room. The family would pay the same amount, however because they paid for their children to participate in this membership program and it qualified for the fitness tax credit, they would be able to save 15% of $700 ($105).

For businesses, in addition to all the other membership and rewards programs that have been created to attract patrons, this presents a potential opportunity geared towards families to spend their vacation time at their establishments. A business could establish a fitness membership program that is tailored to the interests of children. Depending on the type of resort or business, the membership program may consist of lessons in one activity or a variety of activities, such as swimming, skiing, tennis, horseback riding or golf for a one hour period each day for five consecutive days. The business would not be required to operate the fitness program directly, but could team up with other individuals or businesses to provide the fitness program on their behalf. For example a hotel in Whistler could contract with a ski instructor to provide skiing lessons to the children of hotel guests.

The membership program would require that the parents sign up the child for the duration of the program and upon completion the child would receive a certificate that would entitle the parents to claim the amount paid as part of the fitness tax credit. Parents who sign up their children to participate in this program and pay the membership fee would receive a discount on their board and lodging at the resort.

In today’s economy, a business that could offer some potential savings to make a family’s vacation more affordable will be seen as being an attractive option.​