Under subsection 118.5(1) of the Income Tax Act, an
individual taxpayer may claim a tax credit in respect of certain
qualifying tuition fees. Pursuant to paragraph 118.5(1)(a), the
following requirements apply: (i) the student must be enrolled at
an educational institution in Canada; (ii) that educational
institution must be a university, college or "other
educational institution"; and, (iii) the educational
institution must provide courses at a post-secondary school level.
Tuition credits may be transferred to a parent or grandparent under
section 118.9 of the ITA. (See also Income Tax Folio S1-F2-C2 "Tuition Tax
Credit" (March 2013)).
In an earlier case (Tarkowski v. The Queen (2007 TCC
632)), the Tax Court had determined that the Mississauga School
of Music was an "educational institution" for the
purposes of subsection 118.5(1), and the relevant music courses
were "at a post-secondary school level" because a Grade
12 high school credit was a prerequisite to taking these
In Van Helden, the taxpayer argued that, just as the
Mississauga School of Music was found to be an "educational
institution" in Tarkowski, the private instructors in
this case should be found to be educational institutions.
However, the Tax Court disagreed and dismissed the
taxpayer's appeal (see also Kam v. The Queen (2013 TCC 266)). The
Tax Court cited the Parliamentary debates (from 1961) regarding the
intent and scope of the term "educational institution"
 In conclusion, the original
intent of the tuition credit was to make post secondary education
more accessible to students by lessening their financial burden.
Although subsection 118.5(1) should be interpreted broadly, it is
clear that Parliament did not intend that the provision should
apply to fees which students paid for private piano lessons at an
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