Bigger Refund: Know Which Medical Expenses Are Deductible on Your Federal Income Tax Return
Image: Pexels

Bigger Refund: Know Which Medical Expenses Are Deductible on Your Federal Income Tax Return

quite a few medical expenses are tax deductible on your federal tax return, but there are many taxpayers that still get confused about the exceptions

March 3, 2020

If you're looking for a way to get a bigger federal tax refund this year, you might consider itemizing deductions in order to take advantage of the medical expenses deduction. Taxpayers may to deduct qualified medical expenses in excess of 7.5% of their adjusted gross incomes minus any adjustments to income. But not all expenses qualify. And some that used to qualify may not be deductible anymore.

general requirements to claim the medical expenses tax deduction

To claim the medical expenses deduction, you must have paid the expense during the tax year. So if you paid the bill January 2, of 2020, you can't claim it on your 2019 tax return even if the service was performed in 2019. If you receive medical care at the end of the year, it may be helpful to make a payment before the end of the year, even if you don't know your final bill and especially if you are close to the 7.5% limit.

You also need proof of the expense in case you are audited, which might include a cancelled check, credit card statement, or a simple receipt. You can claim medical expenses for dependents, even for parents if you provide a substantial portion of their support.

which expenses are generally tax deductible?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows you to deduct certain expenses on your federal income tax return as qualifying medical expenses, which include many types of preventative care, medical treatment, surgeries, dental care, and vision care. Prescription medications, glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids and even false teeth are typically deductible. You may even deduct expenses related to travel so long as it is for qualifying medical expenses, such as vehicle expenses, parking, and buses.

which expenses are not generally tax deductible?

If you got reimbursed for the medical expense, you can't claim it. This includes reimbursement by your insurance company or by your employer. You can't deduct expenses for non-prescription drugs with the exception of insulin or for other general health items, such as toothpaste, gym memberships, diet plans, vitamins, or other non-prescription products or medical devices. In order to be deductible, the medical expense must have been paid in the current tax year, so expenses before 2019 don't qualify. In order to claim medical expenses, you must itemize your taxes. So if you take the standard deduction, you'll get no medical expense deductions.

Common Tax Deductible Medical Expenses

We've included a list of some of the more common tax deductible medical expenses. For a complete list, as well as for individual qualifications, see IRS Publication 502.

  • Acupuncture
  • Alcoholism Treatment
  • Ambulance Transport
  • Annual Physicals
  • Artificial Limbs and Teeth
  • Birth Control Pills Prescribed by a Doctor
  • Breast Pumps and Related Supplies
  • Contact Lenses, Including Supplies for Using Contacts
  • Cosmetic Surgery Necessary to Improve a Deformity Related to a Congenital Abnormality, Accident or Disease
  • Dental Expenses Excluding Cosmetic Procedures
  • Doctor / Physician Expenses
  • Drug Addiction Treatment
  • Elastic Hosiery to Treat Blood Circulation Problems
  • Exercise Program if a Doctor Recommends It to Treat a Specific Condition
  • Extra Rent or Utilities for a Larger Apartment Required in Order to Provide Space for a Nurse/attendant
  • Eye Surgery When Not for Cosmetic Purposes Only
  • Guide Dog or Other Animal Used by a Visually-impaired, Hearing-impaired or Otherwise Physically Disabled Person
  • Hospital Care
  • Insurance Premiums for Medical Care Coverage
  • Laboratory Fees
  • Lead-based Paint Removal
  • Lifetime Care Advance Payments
  • Lodging Expenses to Receive Medical Care in a Hospital or Medical Facility
  • Long-term Care Insurance and Long-term Care Expenses
  • Medical Aids, Including Wheelchairs, Hearing Aids and Batteries, Eyeglasses, Contact Lenses, Crutches, Braces and Guide Dogs
  • Insurance Premiums
  • Medicines and Drugs
  • Membership in a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
  • Nursing Care and Nursing Home Expenses
  • Organ Transplant
  • Oxygen and Oxygen Equipment
  • Psychiatric Services
  • Special Education for a Mentally Impaired or Physically Disabled Person at a School Specializing in the Disability
  • Smoking Cessation Programs
  • Special Food Prescribed by a Doctor to Alleviate a Specific Medical Condition
  • Telephone Equipment for a Hearing-impaired Person
  • Television Equipment Used to Display the Audio Part of a Program for Hearing-impaired Persons
  • Transportation Costs for Obtaining Medical Care
  • Weight Loss Programs if Recommended by a Doctor to Treat a Specific Medical Condition
  • X-ray and Imaging Services

Medical Expenses That Are Not Tax Deductible

  • Child Care While You Receive Medical Treatment
  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Future Medical Costs
  • Health Club Memberships
  • Household Assistance
  • Illegal Controlled Substances
  • Illegal or Unapproved Treatments
  • Maternity Clothing
  • Medications From International Sources
  • Nonprescription Medicines and Treatments Except Insulin
  • Nutritional Supplements
  • Personal Hygiene Items
  • Swimming Lessons
  • Teeth-whitening Treatments
  • Veterinary Costs Unless for a Service Animal
  • Weight Loss Expenses if for Appearance Only