Ontario plans to introduce a tax credit for parents who pay for their children’s extracurricular activities, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced yesterday.

While it will complement the federal children’s fitness tax credit, unlike the federal program, Ontario’s credit will include non-fitness activities such as visual arts and language learning.
The provincial tax credit would also be refundable.

“It can be a real challenge for parents to make ends meet today, and this is one more way that we can help parents pay for those costs associated with raising healthy, active, engaged kids,” McGuinty said at a YMCA in downtown Toronto.

The proposed tax credit would allow parents to claim up to $500 of eligible expenses per child on sports, arts and other activities starting Jan. 1, 2010.

Families would receive a refundable tax credit worth up to $50 per child younger than 16, and up to $100 for a child younger than 18 with a disability, McGuinty said.

“For our low-income earners, even in cases when they’re not paying any tax at all, we will still come to the table with up to $50 or $100,” he said.

Physical activities that are eligible for the federal credit would already be automatically eligible for the Ontario credit.

Activities that are not related to sports would have to be supervised, suitable and not part of a school’s curriculum in order to be eligible, and would include programs such as drama, choir or Girl Guides.

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