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Married Person's Allowance

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Can a retired taxpayer who has emigrated overseas elect "joint assessment"

1.

Q:

I am a government pensioner and I have emigrated to Canada two years ago. Can I elect for "joint assessment"?

A:

Any married couple may elect joint assessment under Salaries Tax, irrespective of their resident status. The point to note for joint assessment is that both spouses should have income assessable to Hong Kong Salaries Tax for the year of election. If your spouse does not earn any income chargeable to Hong Kong Salaries Tax, you may claim Married Person's Allowance and need not elect joint assessment.

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2.

Q:

Can I claim the married person's allowance after marrying with a non Hong Kong resident? What documentary proof is required as my spouse does not have a Hong Kong Identity Card?

A:

Notwithstanding that your spouse is not a Hong Kong resident, you are eligible to claim married person's allowance in any year of assessment if you are married at any time during that year, and

  • are not living apart from your spouse; or are living apart from your spouse but are maintaining or supporting him/her; AND
  • your spouse did not have any income chargeable to salaries tax; or you and your spouse have elected joint assessment; or you and your spouse have elected personal assessment.

As your spouse does not have a Hong Kong Identity Card, you have to furnish a copy of his/her proof of identity first. If your spouse subsequently obtains a Hong Kong Identity Card, please advise IRD in writing the Identity Card Number within 1 month. A copy of your marriage certificate may be requested by IRD for record purpose.

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Child Allowance

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Can both spouses claim their children's allowance

3.

Q:

We have two children. Can each of us claim one child allowance? How can I nominate my spouse to claim child allowance?

A:

Child allowance for any year must be claimed en bloc by only one of the parents.

Generally speaking, it will be advantageous for the parent who has the higher income to claim child allowance. However, if one of you is being assessed at standard rate, it will be advantageous for the other to claim.

Taxpayers claiming child allowance are required to furnish details of their children in Part 8.2 of the Tax Return - Individuals. However, the method of nominating the spouse to claim child allowance has been made simple. The spouse nominated to claim child allowance will complete Part 8.2. The other spouse who does not claim child allowance will simply leave Part 8.2 blank.

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The same child allowance claimed by more than one person

4.

Q:

What will IRD do if the child allowance in respect of an unmarried child is claimed by more than one person?

A:

If a taxpayer, his/her separated or divorced spouse and other persons are entitled to claim child allowance in respect of the same unmarried child, the Commissioner will invite all the claimants to reach an agreement on who should claim the allowance or agreement on apportionment of the child allowance. If no agreement is reached, the Commissioner will apportion the child allowance having regard to the contributions made by each claimant to the maintenance and education of this child. But if the information of such contributions is not provided, the Commissioner will not consider the claim for child allowance and will disallow the child allowance if such has been granted before.

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An illegitimated child

5.

Q:

If a taxpayer is supporting an illegitimate daughter, can he/she claim child allowance in respect of this daughter?

A:

The father or mother is entitled to claim child allowance in respect of this daughter, whether or not they are legally married as long as this daughter meets all the other requirements for claiming child allowance.

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An unemployed child maintained by parents

6.

Q:

My son is now 20 years old. He finished schooling in June 2016 and is now unemployed. I am still maintaining him and wonder if I am eligible to claim child allowance in respect of this son.

A:

If your child is over 18 but under 25, child allowance could be granted if your child is receiving full time education at any time during the year of assessment. In your case, you may claim child allowance for the year of assessment 2016/17 in view of the fact that your son was receiving full time education during April 2016 to June 2016.

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Apprenticeship scheme of the Vocational Training Council

7.

Q:

My son is 20 in age this year and has participated in the apprenticeship scheme [The Apprenticeship Ordinance Cap. 47] offered by the Vocational Training Council. Can I claim an allowance in respect of this son?

A:

The contract of apprenticeship signed under the apprenticeship scheme is an employment contract between the apprentice and the employer. Therefore, your son is working and is not receiving full-time education. Since he aged over 18, you are not entitled to claim child allowance in respect of him.

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Training scheme of the Vocational Training Council

8.

Q:

My son is 20 in age this year and has participated in a training scheme offered by the Vocational Training Council. Can I claim an allowance in respect of this son?

A:

The Training Centres operated by Vocational Training Council offer various courses of different levels. They range from one or two-year full-time courses, pre-employment training courses to part-time courses for the working people. You are entitled to claim child allowance in respect of your son if he studies a full-time course, which means he receives full-time education. If he only takes short-term courses or part-time courses, he does not receive full-time education, and you are therefore not entitled to claim child allowance in respect of him.

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Youth Pre-employment Training Programme offered by the Labour Department

9.

Q:

My son is 20 in age this year and has participated in the Youth Pre-employment Training Programme offered by the Labour Department. Can I claim child allowance in respect of this son?

A:

The Youth Pre-employment Training Programme offered by the Labour Department is designed to get young people prepared for entering the employment market in the future. The programme offers short-term modular training courses and workplace attachment training which are different from those full-time courses or training provided by universities or colleges. Since your child is over 18 in age and is not receiving full-time education, you are not entitled to claim child allowance in respect of him.

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Dependent Brother or Dependent Sister Allowance

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Dependant suffered from sickness and unemployed

10.

Q:

I have a brother, who is over 25 years old and living with me. Since he was laid off a few years ago, he could not find another job. He needs to take rest for over 15 hours each day but seldom needs to see the doctor. Can I claim Dependent Brother Allowance under this circumstance?

A:

To be eligible for Dependent Brother or Dependent Sister Allowance, you must maintain an unmarried brother or sister and this brother or sister

(a) must be under the age of 18 years,
(b) was receiving full time education at a university, college, school or other similar educational establishment if he/she was of or over 18 but under 25 years old; or
(c) was by reason of physical or mental disability, incapacitated for work if he/she was aged 18 or above.


In your case, you can get deduction for Dependent Brother Allowance if

(a) your brother is still single, and
(b) he was incapacitated for work by reason of physical or mental disability.


Before admitting your claim, the Assessor may require you to produce documentary evidence, such as a doctor's certificate, to substantiate that your brother is physically unfit for work.

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Dependent Parent and Dependent Grandparent Allowance

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Dependant should ordinarily reside in Hong Kong

11.

Q:

One of the conditions for considering a taxpayer’s eligibility for dependent parent / grandparent allowance is that the dependant should be “ordinarily resident in Hong Kong”. What are the criteria for determining whether a person is "ordinarily resident in Hong Kong"?

A:

In the context of considering a taxpayer’s eligibility for dependent parent / grandparent allowance, the term “ordinarily resident in Hong Kong” means that, apart from temporary or occasional absences from Hong Kong, the dependant habitually resides in Hong Kong, and is living in Hong Kong as an ordinary member of the community would live for all the purposes of his/her daily life.

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12.

Q:

How to determine whether a person is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong? Is it sufficient to establish that a dependant is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong if that person holds a Hong Kong Identity Card?

A:

Whether a person ordinarily resides in Hong Kong is a question of fact which depends on the particular circumstances of each case. To determine whether a dependant is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, IRD will consider his/her social and economic ties with Hong Kong.  Objective factors that will be taken into consideration include:

(i) the number of days he/she stayed in Hong Kong, the frequency of his/her visit to Hong Kong and the length of each stay;
(ii) whether he/she has a permanent dwelling in Hong Kong;
(iii) whether he/she owns a property for residence outside Hong Kong;
(iv) whether he/she works or carries out a business in Hong Kong;
(v) whether his/her relatives are mainly residing in Hong Kong;


Generally speaking, IRD does not consider a person, who possesses Hong Kong Identity Card, is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong if he/she lives outside Hong Kong continuously, and even if he/she returns to Hong Kong, the stays here are short and temporary.  In determining whether a holder of Hong Kong Identity Card is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, consideration has to be given to his/her actual place of residence in the relevant period.

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13.

Q:

My mother has emigrated to overseas country many years ago. She still holds a Hong Kong Identity Card and would visit Hong Kong occasionally and stay here for a few days every year. During the year 2016/17, I paid $20,000 to support her living expenses. Can I claim for the dependent parent allowance in respect of my mother?

A:

To be eligible for dependent parent allowance, your dependant must be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong. As your mother has emigrated to overseas country, she lived outside Hong Kong continuously for settled purposes and only visited Hong Kong for a limited number of days, your mother could not be regarded as having satisfied the requirement of ordinarily resident in Hong Kong even though she holds a Hong Kong Identity Card.  Therefore, you are not eligible to claim for the dependent parent allowance in respect of your mother.

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Dependant living in Mainland of China

14.

Q:

My parent/grandparent is living in the Mainland of China. Am I entitled to dependent parent and dependent grandparent allowance?

A:

Dependent parent and dependent grandparent allowance would only be granted if the dependant is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong during the relevant year of assessment. Since your parent/grandparent is living in the Mainland, you are not entitled to claim dependent parent and dependent grandparent allowance.

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15.

Q:

My parents are over 55. They have Hong Kong identity cards but have moved to live in the Mainland. Am I entitled to dependent parent allowance?

A:

If your parents have moved to the Mainland and settled there and they only return to Hong Kong to visit relatives in Hong Kong occasionally, they are not ordinarily resident in Hong Kong and you will not be entitled to dependent parent allowance. However, if your parents only stay in the Mainland for short periods from time to time and are still living in Hong Kong as ordinary member of the community would live for all the purposes of their daily lives, they are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong and you can claim dependent parent allowance.

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Both dependant and taxpayer emigrated overseas

16.

Q:

I am a government pensioner and have emigrated to Canada two years ago. Can I claim Dependent Parent Allowance in respect of my mother who has been living with me in Canada and supported by me throughout the year of assessment 2016/17?
Please be advised that my mother and I had been living in Hong Kong for over 44 years before our emigration to Canada.

A:

To be eligible for Dependent Parent Allowance, the taxpayer must have maintained at any time during the year a parent who

  • is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong;
  • is age over 55; and
  • has either resided with the taxpayer for a continuous period of 6 months or has received from the taxpayer or his/her spouse not less than $12,000 in money towards his/her maintenance during the year.

To be eligible for the allowance, all the above conditions must be fulfilled. As your mother has been residing with you in Canada for the year of assessment 2016/17 and was not ordinarily residing in Hong Kong, you fail to meet the criteria and cannot get the allowance.

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Only the year of birth of the dependant is known

17.

Q:

I maintain both parents who were born in 1962. But their identity cards only record the year of birth without the month and date. Can I claim Dependent Parent Allowances in the Tax Return for the year of assessment 2016/17?

A:

If your parents were born between January and March 1962, they have reached the age of 55 in the year of assessment 2016/17. You are then entitled to claim the Dependent Parent Allowances in respect of your parents. If they, however, were born between April to December 1962, they are still under 55 in the year of assessment 2016/17.

Therefore, you should first ask your parents for their correct months of birth according to the best of their information and knowledge. If your parents have reached the age of 55 in the year of assessment 2016/17, you can complete Part 8.4 of the Tax Return and furnish the relevant information such as their correct years and months of birth.

 

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Living together with the dependant

18.

Q:

I maintain my parents who aged over 55 and live throughout the year in the same building of my home but on a different floor. All the expenses of their place of residence are paid by me. Am I entitled to claim Additional Dependent Parent Allowance?

A:

In general, a person living in the same building of that of the dependent parents but on a different floor does not satisfy the requirement of residing with the dependent parents for the purpose of claiming Additional Dependent Parent Allowance.

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19.

Q:

My dependent mother is over 55 in age. She visits my home everyday from morning till night to take care of my children. Then she returns to her home to sleep. Am I entitled to Additional Dependent Parent Allowance?

A:

Based on the situation you mentioned, your dependent parent does not reside with you, so you are not entitled to Additional Dependent Parent Allowance.

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20.

Q:

My parents are already over 55 in age. We live in the same flat which is owned by my parents. Am I entitled to Dependent Parent Allowance and the Additional Allowance?

A:

The ownership of the residential flat is not a factor to determine whether your parents reside with you for the purpose of Dependent Parent Allowance. Even if your parents reside with you, you should also fulfill the requirement on maintaining your parents before you can claim the Dependent Parent Allowance or the Additional Allowance. If your parents reside with you, otherwise than for full valuable consideration, for a continuous period of not less than 6 months, you are entitled to claim Dependent Parent Allowance. If they reside with you, otherwise than for full valuable consideration, continuously throughout the year of assessment, you are also entitled to the Additional Allowance.

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How to report and the supporting evidence required to substantiate the contribution made to the dependent parent

21.

Q:

In the year of assessment 2016/17, I contributed $20,000 in total towards my father's maintenance and I wish to claim Dependent Parent Allowance. How should I report this contribution? Do I need to submit any supporting evidence together with my tax return?

A:

Before you complete your tax return, you should read the "Guide to Tax Return - Individuals" carefully to ensure that you are entitled to claim Dependent Parent Allowance. To claim the allowance, you should complete the relevant parts, which are applicable to your claim, of the Part 8.4 of the tax return. You don't have to state the amount of contributions actually paid in the year or to submit any documentary evidence with your tax return. However, you need to keep the relevant records for a period of 6 years after the expiration of the relevant year of assessment. The assessor may require you to provide such evidence when your case is subsequently selected for review.

Note : The boxes for item (6)(ii) in Part 8.4 of the Tax Return - Individuals concern deduction claims for Elderly Residential Care Expenses. If you wish to claim Dependent Parent Allowance, please do not fill in the amount of actual contributions in these boxes.

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Substantiated evidence required when your case is selected for review

22.

Q:

When IRD selects my case to review my claim for Dependent Parent Allowance, what documents do I need to submit in order to substantiate that my dependent parent was residing with me?

A:

IRD would require the taxpayer to supply a copy of the dependant's Hong Kong identity card. Further, the taxpayer is required to provide evidence to substantiate that the dependant was residing with the taxpayer in the same address during the year of assessment concerned, e.g. bank statement. IRD would match the information supplied by taxpayers with that in its computer. IRD would also obtain information from other government departments, including the Immigration Department, Social Welfare Department and Housing Department in order to verify the information supplied by the taxpayer is in order.

[Please click here for information about documentary evidence required to substantiate disabled dependants.]

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23.

Q:

I contributed not less than $12,000 annually to maintain my father. What proof can I provide to IRD to substantiate my claim?

A:

Generally speaking, IRD would not ask taxpayers to provide the receipts of the daily expenses of their dependent parents. Taxpayers can provide information on how they contribute to their parents' maintenance, for example, if contribution is made through automatic bank transfer or regular withdrawals from bank accounts, copies of the relevant bank statements can be provided for verification. Taxpayers can also supply the rental receipts of their dependent parent's residence, utilities and medical bills, if any, for examination when their cases were selected for review. If the information provided is contrary to information available to the IRD, taxpayers may be required to provide further information or evidence relevant to their claims.

[Please click here for information about documentary evidence required to substantiate disabled dependants.]

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"Kai Ma" under Chinese custom with no official legal document

24.

Q:

I regard a lady as my mother ("Kai Ma"). We went through a ceremony according to Chinese custom without any official legal documents but in the presence of my relatives. She does not have any other relatives and I am the one who maintain her. Can I claim Dependent Parent Allowance in respect of her?

A:

Inland Revenue Ordinance allows a taxpayer to claim an allowance in respect of an adopted parent or adopted grandparent. By virtue of the Inland Revenue Ordinance, “adopted” refers to adoption in any manner recognized by the law of Hong Kong. Accordingly, your "Kai Ma" is not within the statutory meaning of the word “parent” for the purpose of this allowance.

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Step parent without a registered marriage with parent

25.

Q:

We maintain my wife's stepfather who is over 55 in age this year but he has not registered a marriage with my mother-in-law. Can we claim Dependent Parent Allowance in respect of my wife's stepfather?

A:

Without a registration of marriage, your wife's stepfather does not satisfy the definition of “parent” under the Inland Revenue Ordinance. You are not entitled to Dependent Parent Allowance unless your wife's stepfather married to your mother-in-law according to the traditional Chinese custom before the amendment of the matrimonial law on 7 October 1971.

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Natural and adopted parent of the dependant

26.

Q:

My father is a legally adopted son. Can I claim Dependent Grandparent Allowance in respect of my father's natural parent and adopted parent?

A:

Yes.

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Ex-spouse died after divorce and I maintain his / her parent / grandparent

27.

Q:

I am divorced and my ex-spouse died after our divorce. I am responsible for the maintenance of my ex-spouse’s parents. Am I entitled to claim Dependent Parent Allowance in respect of my ex-spouse's parents?

A:

Under the Inland Revenue Ordinance, a taxpayer can claim an allowance in respect of a parent or grandparent of his/her deceased spouse. A deceased spouse means the person who remained as your spouse when he/she died. However, as you divorced your spouse before his/her death, you cannot claim Dependent Parent Allowance in respect of them.

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Allowances of the parents and grandparents of my spouses

28.

Q:

I am a Muslim and have legally married three wives in Malaysia. Can I claim allowances in respect of the parents and grandparents of my three wives?

A:

No. You are only entitled to claim for the allowances in respect of the parents or grandparents of your principal wife. Under the Inland Revenue Ordinance, “spouse” means a husband or wife who is a married man / woman and “Marriage” means-

(a) any marriage recognized by the law of Hong Kong; or 
(b) any marriage, whether or not so recognized, entered into outside Hong Kong according to the law of the place where it was entered into but shall not, in the case of a marriage which is both potentially and actually polygamous, include marriage between a man and any wife other than the principal wife.

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Multiple claims for the allowance of the same dependant

29.

Q:

My parents have claimed Dependent Parent Allowance in respect of their own parents. Can I claim Dependent Grandparent Allowance in respect of the same dependant?

A:

In respect of the same dependant, only one individual will be granted an allowance. You should agree with your parents and decide who claims the allowance in respect of your grandparents. You should send a written notice about the decision to the officers of the IRD for their action.

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30.

Q:

My grandparents lived together with my parents whereas I live apart from them. Given that I am granted Dependent Grandparent Allowance, can my parents claim Additional Dependent Parent Allowance only on the ground that they reside with my grandparents?

A:

In respect of the same dependant, only one individual will be granted an allowance. As you are entitled to claim Dependent Grandparent Allowance in respect of your grandparents, your parents cannot claim any Dependent Parent Allowance or Additional Dependent Parent Allowance in respect of the same dependant.

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31.

Q:

My brother and I have both claimed Dependent Parent Allowance in respect of my father but have not yet reached an agreement as to who should entitle to the allowance. What would the Commissioner do? Will the Commissioner apportions the allowance according to our respective contributions to our father's maintenance?

A:

Where more than one person is entitled to claim the allowance in respect of the same parent or grandparent for the same year of assessment, IRD will not consider the relevant claim until an agreement has been reached to decide who will claim the allowance in that year of assessment. Furthermore, where an allowance in respect of a dependent person has been granted to a taxpayer and, within 6 months of its being granted, another person claims to be entitled to the allowance, IRD will issue additional assessments, withdrawing the dependent parent allowance previously granted to that taxpayer if he is not able to reach an agreement with the other claimant within a reasonable time. At present, there is no statutory provision to apportion the Dependent Parent or Grandparent Allowance/Additional Allowance.

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Single Parent Allowance

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Spouse had no income

32.

Q:

My spouse had no income and I maintained the children. Am I entitled to single parent allowance?

A:

No. A married person is not entitled to single parent allowance even though he/she was the sole contributor to maintain the children.

Under the provisions of the Inland Revenue Ordinance, single parent is a person who is single, widowed or being a widower, or who lives apart from the spouse throughout the year and has the sole or predominant care of a child.

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Spouse separated or divorced

33.

Q:

I have separated from my spouse and only I maintain the children. Can I claim single parent allowance?

A:

The allowance will not be granted for the year during which the separation or divorce takes place. For example, a couple divorced in August 2016. They will not be entitled for single parent allowance in the year 2016/17. Such allowance will only be considered as from the year 2017/18.

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Disabled Dependant Allowance

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Application procedures

34.

Q:

What are the procedures of claiming the Disabled Dependant Allowance?

A:

A claim for the Disabled Dependant Allowance can be made in the Tax Return - Individuals (Form BIR60) for the relevant year of assessment by just putting a “tick” in the appropriate boxes under the items of Married Persons, Child, Dependent Brother or Sister, Dependent Parent and Dependent Grandparent Allowance, declaring that the dependant is eligible to claim an allowance under the Government's Disability Allowance Scheme and that the taxpayer intends to claim the Disabled Dependant Allowance in respect of this dependant. IRD will not refuse the claim for the Disabled Dependant Allowance on the ground that an eligible dependant does not actually claim the Disability Allowance or the dependant opts for the Old Age Living Allowance instead of the Disability Allowance.

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Substantiated documentary evidence require

35.

Q:

What evidence is required from applicants for Disabled Dependant Allowance when a review is made?

A:

IRD may require the applicants to submit evidence showing that the dependants are eligible to claim an allowance under the Government's Disability Allowance Scheme on reviewing the applications. If the dependants have applied to Social Welfare Department (SWD) for the disability allowance, taxpayers can provide the file number of their dependants used in making the application. For dependants who have not claimed the disability allowance or have opted for the Old Age Living Allowance instead of the Disability Allowance, certification issued by the Director of Health or the Chief Executive, Hospital Authority or Medical Assessment Report issued by a registered medical practitioner of a private hospital is required to substantiate the dependant's eligibility for disability allowance in the relevant year. This Report should be in the same format as required by SWD in assessing the prescribed disability criteria of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme or Social Security Allowance Scheme. IRD will accept this Medical Assessment Report as evidence for the purpose of Disabled Dependant Allowance under the Inland Revenue Ordinance.

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36.

Q:

Will IRD accept different types of documentary evidence to substantiate dependants’ eligibility for disability allowance, such as copy of registration card for people with disabilities issued by the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau?

A:

In defining ‘disability’, different certifying authorities adopt different criteria, which may be inconsistent with those under Government Disability Allowance Scheme (GDAS). For claiming an allowance under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme operated by Social Welfare Department, it is a requisite condition that the applicant must be certified as disabled by the Director of Health or the Chief Executive of the Hospital Authority (in special cases, a registered medical practitioner of a private hospital). IRD therefore cannot accept the certifying document issued by other authorities to replace the Medical Assessment Report issued by a registered practitioner in accordance to the requirement under GDAS as evidence to substantiate the dependant's eligibility for disability allowance.

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Eligibility to claim Disabled Dependant Allowance in respect of a dependant who suffers from a chronic illness

37.

Q:

I maintain my father who is over 60 and suffers from a chronic illness. Am I eligible to claim the Disabled Dependant Allowance in respect of my dependent father?

A:

You are eligible to claim disabled dependant allowance if your dependent father is eligible to claim an allowance under the Government's Disability Allowance Scheme. Under this scheme, an applicant is eligible to claim an allowance if he/she is certified by the Director of Health or the Chief Executive, Hospital Authority (or under exceptional circumstances by a registered medical practitioner of a private hospital) to be severely disabled and his/her disabling condition will persist for at least six months.

You can browse the website of Social Welfare Department for the definition of 'severely disabled' and the procedures of applying for the disability allowance.