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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Perry

Can I deduct my medical expenses?

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

If you’re wondering whether you can deduct medical or dental expenses on your 2019 tax return, the answer is...maybe. If you take the standard deduction on your federal tax return, you may not deduct any medical or dental expenses. If you choose to itemize your deductions instead, you may deduct eligible medical/dental expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2019. For tax year 2020, this threshold will increase from 7.5% to 10% of your AGI.

Eligible medical care expenses include payments for the diagnosis, cure, treatment, mitigation, or prevention of disease, or for treatments affecting any bodily structure or function. Examples of deductible medical expenses are described below.

Can I Deduct That? Medical Expenses Infographic

Payments to Healthcare Providers

You may deduct fees paid to healthcare providers such as doctors, dentists, surgeons, chiropractors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and nontraditional medical practitioners. Payments for acupuncture treatments, inpatient alcohol or drug addiction treatment, and participation in smoking-cessation programs are also deductible.

Transportation Expenses

You may deduct out-of-pocket expenses associated with transportation used primarily to access essential medical care. This includes the costs of gas and oil, transportation by car or ambulance, or fare for a bus, train, or taxi. In lieu of calculating your actual out-of-pocket transportation expenses, you may opt instead to deduct the standard mileage rate for medical expenses ($0.20/mile for 2019), plus the cost of tolls and parking.

Insurance Premiums

You may deduct payments made for health and/or dental insurance premiums, excluding any portion paid by your employer; self-employed individuals with a net profit for the year may be eligible for the self-employed health insurance deduction, deducting 100% of their health insurance premiums. This is an adjustment to income rather than an itemized deduction, which means that eligible taxpayers may take this deduction regardless of whether or not they choose to itemize.

Inpatient & Residential Care

Inpatient hospital care costs are considered deductible expenses. Payments for residential nursing home care may also be deducted, with certain limitations. Medically necessary care for residents of nursing homes may be tax-deductible; for more information on this topic, contact your tax professional.

Attending Medical Conferences

If you attend a medical conference relating to a chronic illness of you, your spouse, or your dependent, you may be able to deduct the cost of admission and transportation. However, the cost of meals and lodging during the conference is not tax-deductible.

Weight Loss Programs

You may deduct the cost of participating in a weight-loss program for a specific disease diagnosed by a physician, including obesity. However, you may not deduct purchases of diet food items or health club membership fees.

Prescriptions & Other Expenses

Payments for insulin and drugs that require a prescription are considered tax-deductible, as are prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, hearing aids, false teeth, and mobility aids such as wheelchairs or crutches. Amounts paid for nicotine gum or patches may be deducted with a doctor’s prescription.

Ineligible Expenses

You may not deduct funeral or burial expenses, most cosmetic surgeries, the cost of nonprescription medicines, toothpaste, toiletries, or cosmetics, or a trip or program for the general improvement of your health.

Note that you must provide documentation for any medical or dental expenses you plan to deduct on your return.

Don’t forget to contact your local CPA for more guidance on tax-deductible medical expenses and any other questions you have this tax season!


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