Ontario Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit

General Description

The Ontario Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit (OSPTTC) provides eligible seniors with a refundable tax credit calculated as 15% of their expenses for eligible public transit services, starting in 2017.

  • You are eligible to claim the OSPTTC for a tax year if you were 65 at the beginning of that year and you resided in Ontario at the end of the year.
  • The credit can be claimed on your income tax and benefit return.

The maximum amount of expenses that a senior can claim is $3,000, for a maximum credit of $450. Due to the mid-year start, the maximum amount of expenses that a senior can claim in 2017 will be $1,500, for a maximum credit of $225.

For 2017, only expenses incurred from July 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017 will be eligible. After 2017, you will be able to claim the full year’s eligible expenses on that year’s income tax and benefit return, subject to the maximum.

Eligible Public Transit Services

Eligible public transit services are those that are operated by the Government of Ontario or by the government of a municipality in Ontario (this includes the Metrolinx-operated GO network). You can claim the OSPTTC for fare paid for eligible public transit services, provided you paid your fare in one of the ways described below under the section “Qualifying Payment Methods”.

In addition, the service must be:

  • a short haul service of the sort that people would typically use for a return trip in a single day;
  • offered to the general public; and
  • operated by bus, subway, train or tram.

Specialized transit services for people with disabilities are eligible.

Short-haul public transit that runs from within Ontario to a destination outside Ontario are eligible, such as those in Windsor or Ottawa.

Long-haul and private-sector services, such as Via Rail and Greyhound, are not eligible.

Qualifying Payment Methods

You can claim the OSPTTC for conventional public transit paid for using the following payment methods:

  • Passes for an unlimited number of rides during a period of at least one day;
  • Passes for set number of rides;
  • Fare paid using an electronic payment card that provides a personalized usage report, such as PRESTO; and
  • Single ride tickets or tokens, as long as you have an itemized receipt.

Cash fare is only eligible if it was used to pay for a specialized public transit service (offered to people with disabilities) and if you have a record that you booked and used rides on that service. Cash fare for conventional public transit services is not eligible for the OSPTTC.

In general, you can only claim the OSPTTC for discounted senior fare. However, if the transit service you use does not offer a senior rate for the type of pass or ticket you purchase, the non-senior fare is eligible.

  • For example, if your transit service offers a monthly senior’s pass, but does not offer single ride tickets at a senior rate, you can claim the OSPTTC for adult-fare single ride tickets, but not for an adult monthly pass.

Keep your transit passes and receipts to use when you claim the OSPTTC on your income tax and benefit return.

Receipts

You may be required to keep a receipt for purchase of certain forms of public transit fare.

Limited or Unlimited Use Passes

If you used a pass that provides unlimited rides over a certain period of time, or provides a set number of rides, you do not need to have a receipt, but keep your pass as proof of payment.

Electronic Payment Cards

If you used an electronic payment card to access public transit and your card provides a usage report that shows your name, you do not need to have a receipt.

If you used an electronic payment card to access public transit and your card does not provide a personalized usage report, you will need a receipt to be able to claim the OSPTTC.

  • The receipt must show the name of the transit operator, the date you added value to your card, and the amount added.
  • If the receipt shows your name, no additional information is required.
  • If the receipt does not show your name, you will need a credit card or bank statement in your name that records the value added to your electronic payment card.

Tickets or Tokens

If you used single ride tickets or tokens to access public transit, you will need to keep a receipt for the purchase of those tickets or tokens to be able to claim that expense through the OSPTTC.

  • The receipt must show the name of the transit operator, the date of purchase, and the amount paid.
  • If your receipt shows your name, no additional information is required.
  • If the receipt does not show your name, you will need a credit card or bank statement in your name that records the payment for the tickets or tokens.

Specialized Transit Service

If you paid cash to use specialized transit service, you will need to keep the following to be able to claim the amount paid through the OSPTTC:

  • A record that you booked rides on that service; and
  • Proof of your rides on the service (such as dated transfers).

Examples of Expenses Eligible for the OSPTTC

An eligible senior could claim the OSPTTC for any of the following expenses, as well as any combination of them:

  • Any number of rides on Toronto Transit Commission buses and subways that were purchased using a senior’s PRESTO card;
  • Any number of rides on GO Transit between Hamilton and Oshawa, purchased as single ride senior tickets for which receipts were issued;
  • Any number of rides on the OC Transpo, including those crossing into Quebec, purchased using a senior’s monthly pass.

Questions and Answers

I used public transit throughout 2017. Which of my transit expenses can I claim on my 2017 income tax and benefit return?

As long as your public transit expenses are eligible for the OSPTTC, you can claim the expenses that you incurred starting July 1, 2017.

Will I be eligible for the OSPTTC if I purchase an adult monthly pass (that is, if I purchase something other than a senior’s pass)?

In general, you can only claim the OSPTTC for discounted senior fare. However, if the transit service you use does not offer a senior rate for the type of pass or ticket you purchase, non-senior fare is eligible. In your case, you could claim the cost of your adult fare monthly pass, provided other eligibility conditions are met.

I do not use transit enough to purchase a monthly pass. Will my other public transit costs be eligible for the OSPTTC?

Monthly passes are not necessary in order for you to be eligible for the OSPTTC. Provided that other eligibility conditions are met, your public transit costs can be eligible for the OSPTTC if you pay using any of the following methods:

  • Passes for an unlimited number of rides during a period of at least one day;
  • Passes for set number of rides;
  • Fare paid using an electronic payment card, such as PRESTO; and
  • Single ride tickets or tokens, as long as you have an itemized receipt.

However, cash fare is only eligible if it was paid for specialized public transit service (offered to people with disabilities) and you have a record that you booked and used rides on that service. Cash fare for conventional public transit services is not eligible for the OSPTTC.

I do not use transit enough to buy a monthly pass. And I don’t like to use electronic cards. Will my transit costs be eligible for the OSPTTC?

Monthly passes and electronic payment cards are not necessary in order for you to be eligible for the OSPTTC. Provided that other eligibility conditions are met, your transit costs can be eligible for the OSPTTC if you pay using any of the following methods:

  • Passes for an unlimited number of rides during a period of at least one day;
  • Passes for set number of rides;
  • Fare paid using an electronic payment card, such as PRESTO; and
  • Single ride tickets or tokens, as long as you have an itemized receipt.

However, cash fare is only eligible if it was used to pay for a specialized public transit service (offered to people with disabilities) and you have a record that you booked and used rides on that service. Cash fare for conventional public transit services is not eligible for the OSPTTC.

I paid for public transit using cash placed in the fare box. Will my transit costs be eligible for the OSPTTC?

Cash fare is only eligible for the OSPTTC if it was used to pay for a specialized public transit service (offered to people with disabilities) and you have a record that you booked and used rides on that service. Cash fare for conventional public transit services is not eligible for the OSPTTC.

I turned 65 in March 2017. Can I claim the OSPTTC on my 2017 income tax and benefit return?

You are eligible to claim the OSPTTC for a tax year if you were 65 at the beginning of that year and you resided in Ontario at the end of the year. As a result, you will not be eligible to claim the OSPTTC for expenses you incurred in 2017. You will meet the age condition for claiming the OSPTTC on your 2018 Ontario income tax and benefit return. On that return, you could claim expenses incurred in 2018 for eligible public transit services.

Will my Via Rail or Greyhound tickets be eligible expenses for the OSPTTC?

You can claim the OSPTTC for fare paid for public transit operated by the Government of Ontario or by the government of a municipality in Ontario (this includes the Metrolinx-operated GO network).

Via Rail and Greyhound fare are not eligible for the OSPTTC as they are not operated by the government of Ontario or by a municipality in Ontario.

I travel by OC Transpo into Gatineau. Are my fares for that bus eligible for the OSPTTC?

Provided that other eligibility conditions are met, your fare for use of a bus originating in Ontario can be eligible for the OSPTTC. Make sure you read information above about Eligible Public Transit Services and Qualifying Payment Methods.

I travel between cities in Ontario using GO Transit. Are my GO fares eligible for the OSPTTC?

You can claim your OSPTTC for fares paid for eligible public transit services, provided that other eligibility conditions are met. Eligible transit services include GO Transit.

In addition, the service must be:

  • a short haul service of the sort that people would typically use for a return trip in a single day;
  • offered to the general public; and
  • operated by bus, subway, train or tram.
What’s the difference between conventional and specialized public transit service?

Specialized public transit services are designed to transport persons with disabilities. All other public transit services are considered conventional services.

Do I need a receipt to claim the OSPTTC?

If you accessed public transit using either of the following payment methods, you do not need to have a receipt:

  • a pass that provides unlimited rides over a period of time, or that provides a set number of rides; or
  • an electronic payment card that provides a usage report that shows your name.

If you accessed public transit (conventional or specialized) using tickets or tokens, or using an electronic payment card that does not provide a personalized usage report, or if you paid for specialized public transit using cash, you will need a receipt.

What is an itemized receipt?

Receipts for Electronic Payment Cards

If you used an electronic payment card to access public transit and your card does not provide a personalized usage report, you will need a receipt to be able to claim the OSPTTC.

  • The receipt must show the name of the transit operator, the date you added value to your card, and the amount added.
  • If the receipt shows your name, no additional information is required.
  • If the receipt does not show your name, you will need a credit card or bank statement in your name that records the value added to your electronic payment card.

Receipts for Tickets or Tokens

If you used single ride tickets or tokens to access public transit (conventional or specialized), you will need a receipt to be able to claim the OSPTTC.

  • The receipt must show the name of the transit operator, the date of purchase, and the amount paid.
  • If your receipt shows your name, no additional information is required.
  • If the receipt does not show your name, you will need a credit card or bank statement in your name that records the payment for the tickets or tokens.

Receipts for Cash Paid for Specialized Transit Service

If you paid cash to use specialized transit service, you will need to keep the following to be able to claim the amount paid through the OSPTTC:

  • A record that you booked rides on that service; and
  • Proof of your rides on the service (such as dated transfers).
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