According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, based out of the US, the burden of celiac disease can cost an extra $4,000 to $14,000 over a four-year-period. Forget hunger pangs - what about wallet pangs?
Luckily, the government is willing to help eat some of those costs.
The Canada Revenue Agency and the Internal Revenue Service each list gluten-free food as an eligible medical expense - which, as we'll explain, might be as much a burden as it is a blessing.
Living gluten-free is far from free
A cost-comparison study by Dr. Mohsin Rashid found gluten-free foods to be 162 percent more expensive than regular foods on average (which is actually good news - that's down from 242 percent in 2008).
Although slightly less than 1 percent of the population lives with celiac disease (though it may be more - it is believed that 83 percent of people with celiac disease may not know it yet), the industry for gluten-free foods hit $4.2 billion by the end of 2012, according to Packaged Facts. It is expected to soar to $6.6 billion by 2016.
But since 2003, those with the disease have had an opportunity to reduce some of the tax they owe each year. Finally, a break - a tax break, anyhow.
Gluten-free AND tax-free (almost)
The Canada Revenue Agency states on its website that people who suffer from celiac disease are "entitled to claim the incremental costs associated with the purchase of gluten-free products as a medical expense."
To put it in simple terms: a person may claim the difference between the cost of their gluten-free food and the cost of comparable regular food.
To support your claim for the credit, you'll need:
- A letter from your doctor confirming your disease
- A receipt for every item you're claiming
- A summary for each item calculating the incremental costs
Sure, it sounds easy - but many people living with celiac disease find the process to be too time-consuming to endure, according to a report by the CBC. Indeed, we can imagine how keeping track of every morsel of food you purchase for a full year and then doing a complete cost-comparison with regular foods can begin to get somewhat tedious.
With this in mind, while we may not have the answers to help you track everything from last year's gluten-free Valentine's Day cookies to last week's gluten-free pizza, we can certainly assist with a few of the most common items.
5 common cost-comparisons for gluten-free foodies
Glutino is one of Canada's leading gluten-free food suppliers. Below, we've compared Glutino's prices with the average costs of comparable food items in Canada, based on data from Livingin-Canada.com.
Warning: some of the incremental costs calculated below might make you lose your appetite (particularly if you're paying some of these prices just to satisfy it).
Glutino corn flakes vs. regular corn flakes: $2.46/100g - $0.74/100g = $1.72/100g
Glutino macaroni vs. regular macaroni: $1.63/100g - $0.28/100g = $1.35/100g
Genius by Glutino white bread vs. regular white bread: $1.24/100g - $0.41/100g = 0.83/100g
Glutino all-purpose flour vs. regular all-purpose flour: $1.31/100g - $0.21/100g = $1.10/100g
Glutino table crackers vs. regular soda crackers: $2.20/100g - $0.58/100g = $1.62/100g
Yikes - that's a hefty incremental cost summary. On second thought, let's consider some foods that are - get this - naturally gluten-free!
Whole foods (i.e. eggs, fruits, vegetables, legumes and meats) and certain carbohydrates (i.e. potatoes, rice, beans) certainly might help curb some of those hunger pangs.
More importantly, these foods can help curb wallet pangs as well - at least until tax time rolls around when you'll (hopefully) be curbing some of those tax pangs, too.