​Can You Deduct Medical Expenses from Your Taxes?

​Can You Deduct Medical Expenses from Your Taxes?

03/16/2022 Tags: Announcements, In the News

If you have medical bills and expenses, you might wonder if you can deduct any of them from your annual taxes.

Below is a quick explainer about when you can deduct medical expenses and which types are qualifying medical costs.

You can deduct medical expenses only if:

  • They are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, and
  • You itemize, which means that your itemized deductions have to be more than your standard deduction.

A lot of expenses — beyond just doctor and hospital bills — count as qualifying medical costs. Those costs can include:

  • Health insurance premiums — There are a couple of ways you might be able to deduct your health insurance premiums: If you’re self-employed or buy your insurance through a federal or state marketplace. You can’t, however, deduct premiums that come out of your paycheck pretax. Long-term care insurance premiums are also medical expenses. But they are subject to specific dollar limits based on age. If you buy health insurance through the federal insurance marketplace or your state marketplace, any premiums you pay out of pocket are tax-deductible.
  • Transportation — The cost of getting to and from medical treatment is a medical expense. This includes the cost of using your car, public transportation, or using a taxi or ride-share service.
  • Therapists, nurses, and more — The costs for services that providers other than physicians offer can qualify as a medical expense. Those costs just can’t be for general health. So, for example, the cost of physical therapy after knee surgery would qualify. But you can’t deduct having to pay for a fitness counselor to help you get in shape. Also, you can deduct costs associated with medical care from a psychologist. And if you’re chronically ill, certain long-term care services also qualify as deductible medical expenses.
  • Eyeglasses, hearing aids, dental work, prescription drugs — Deductible medical expenses include the cost of glasses, hearing aids, dental work, and other ongoing medical needs. Most cosmetic expenses don’t qualify, but certain medically necessary cosmetic surgery is deductible. Prescription drugs qualify, but non-prescription drugs like aspirin don’t. Also, you can’t deduct costs for operations or treatments that are illegal under federal law — like marijuana — even if it’s legal in the state where you live.
  • Smoking-cessation programs — If you pay to participate in a smoking-cessation program or for prescribed drugs designed to alleviate nicotine withdrawal, you can deduct those costs. But non-prescription nicotine gum and some kinds of nicotine patches aren’t deductible.
  • Weight-loss programs — You can deduct expenses related to a weight-loss program if you’re doing so as part of treatment for a disease that a doctor diagnosed. The disease can be obesity or something else, such as hypertension or heart disease. It’s a good idea to get a written diagnosis before starting the program. Deductible expenses include fees paid to join a weight-loss program or attend meetings. However, you can’t deduct the cost of any special foods.
  • Dependents and others — You can deduct the medical costs that you pay for your dependents, like your kids. Usually, if you’re divorced, you can claim the medical costs your kids provided you paid them, even if you don’t receive the dependency exemption. Also, you might be able to deduct medical costs that you pay for someone like an elderly parent or grandparent, if they’re a dependent.

If you have questions about medical expenses and your taxes, please let us know.

Image of Kayce Gerlach


Shareholder and CPA, CGMA, CEPA

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