Although many medical expenses are deductible, others are not, and you need to know which is which
As if your taxes weren't painful enough, sometimes you also have to factor in medical costs when budgeting your money. Though many medical expenses are deductible, others are not, and it's important that you know which is which.
Non-Deductible Medical Expenses
Below are some of the most common medical expenses that you can't write off at tax time, though the list is not exhaustive.
- Baby Care
- Cosmetic Surgery
- Funeral Costs
- 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
- Nutritional Supplements
- Personal Hygiene Items
- Swimming Lessons
- Teeth-Whitening Treatments
- Veterinary Costs
- Weight Loss Expenses
If you have to pay for infant or childcare so that either you, your spouse, or a dependent can receive medical or dental care, the cost is not deductible. Childcare expenses do not qualify as medical expenses.
Any surgery done for aesthetic rather than medical reasons cannot be deducted. This includes surgeries for injuries received in accidents or similar traumatic incidents.
The exception is surgery to improve the appearance of someone with a facial deformity or disfiguring illness.
Funeral expenses are not deductible, regardless of whether of person was a family member or someone else.
Any medical expenses for care that you will or may get after the end of the tax year cannot be deducted. Costs for long-term insurance contracts and advance payments on lifetime care agreements are the exceptions.
You can't deduct payments for a gym or health club, no matter why you joined.
In-home services for cleaning or other necessities don't qualify for a deduction, even if hired on the suggestion of a medical professional. However, costs for in-home help for nursing and hygienic care can be deducted as long as the nurse is providing medical help or personal care.
You may not deduct medical expenses for controlled substances—like marijuana—meant to treat an illness if they are illegal under federal law. Note that this is true even in those states where the substance is legal under state law.
Any costs associated with unapproved or illegal treatments are not deductible, including expenses for any medicine or treatment recommended by any type of doctor with or without a license. Experimental treatments are also excluded.
You can't deduct the costs of maternity clothing that you buy while pregnant.
Medicines imported to the U.S. from other countries are not deductible unless they are authorized to be distributed here. If you are located in another country and buy a medication there, and it is legal both there and in the U.S., you can deduct the cost.
Except for insulin, the cost of drugs not prescribed by a doctor are not deductible. Included in this category are treatments recommended, but not prescribed, by a doctor.
Unless your doctor recommends them to treat a particular medical problem diagnosed by a medical professional, you cannot deduct vitamins, herbal supplements, nutritional supplements, or other natural treatments.
Everyday items meant to promote healthy hygienic habits, such as a toothbrush, are not deductible. The exception is any personal hygiene item meant to alleviate or treat a physical or mental illness or defect that is known and has been diagnosed.
If a special or unique version of an everyday product is required for such a purpose, you may be able to deduct the difference in cost between the normal and the specialized versions.
Even if they may help improve an illness or are recommended by a doctor, the costs of swimming and other similar lessons are not deductible.
Teeth-whitening treatments, whether performed by a professional or by an over-the-counter option, cannot be deducted.
Unless the costs are for the care and treatment of a guide dog or other service animal, veterinary costs are not deductible. Medical expenses for service animals must have been recommended by a doctor to alleviate or treat a diagnosed medical condition.
Medical expenses for the membership and purchase of meals or supplements in a weight loss program are not deductible if you enrolled to improve either your appearance or health. However, payments may be deductible if you enrolled to treat a certain condition diagnosed by a medical professional. Even in this case, you can deduct foods or drinks bought in the program only if they are meant to treat the medical condition.
Again, this list is not complete, so make sure to research the costs associated with your specific situation before you try to claim any medical expenses.