About Medical Tax Deductions

One of the fastest growing items in many family budgets is medical expenses.

One of the fastest growing items in many family budgets is medical expenses. The cost of even basic medical care has risen dramatically during the past two decades, and treatment for serious conditions, such as cancer, has skyrocketed. Even with medical insurance, the out of pocket expense can be a hard pill to swallow. To alleviate a little of the sting, the federal government allows taxpayers who choose to itemize their deductions on Schedule A of their Form 1040, the right to deduct qualifying medical expenses from their federal income tax.


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows deductions for expenses paid during the calendar year for medical care, regardless of when the expense was incurred. This also includes dental and vision care. For taxpayers filing a joint return, the deduction applies to both the taxpayer and spouse as well as any claimed dependents. In order for medical expenses to be deducted from your taxable income, the taxpayer must choose to itemize his deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040. In order to maximize the benefit to the taxpayer, total deductions on Schedule A must be greater than the standard deduction that is available to all taxpayers in the same filing category.


Medical tax deductions are only allowed for expenses which you actually paid, for the treatment or prevention of a mental or physical illness or condition. Payments made to your medical provider on your behalf by your insurance company may not be included in this deduction, although your co-pay may be included. You may include any expenses paid for diagnostic work, alleviation of pain and suffering, treatment, check ups, preventative measures, such as vaccinations and prescription drugs and medications.

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Fees paid to medical practitioners including family doctors, pediatricians, optometrists and ophthalmologists, dentists and orthodontists, psychologists and psychiatrists, osteopathic doctors, Christian Science practitioners and doctors of chiropractic may be deducted. You may also deduct fees paid to hospitals, laboratories, long-term care facilities, drug and alcohol recovery facilities, outpatient nursing services and mental health facilities. The IRS also allows you to deduct expenses associated with programs and prescription drugs to help you quit smoking, although over-the-counter remedies are not deductible.


Certain programs which promote a healthy lifestyle, such as weight loss programs, when participated in as a treatment for specific conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, may be deductible when recommended by a medical practitioner. You may also deduct certain costs associated with attending medical conferences that are essential to the care of yourself or your dependent if the conference is necessary for proper treatment of a chronic condition.

Overlooked Medical Deductions

Certain medical accessories including dentures, glasses and contact lenses when prescribed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, hearing aids and mobility enhancing devices, such as wheelchairs, are considered qualified medical deductions. Costs associated with guide dogs for the blind or deaf may be deducted from your taxes. Certain elective surgery, such as Lasik eye surgery, is a qualifying medical expense, however most elective cosmetic surgery is excluded. Mileage or actual expenses associated with travel to and from your medical service provider may be deducted from your taxes as well.


Nothing in this article should be construed as giving tax advice. When in doubt, always consult your attorney or a qualified tax professional. The IRS provides numerous publications and instructions regarding medical tax deductions. The most up-to-date information can be found online at the IRS website.

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