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Deductible Medical Expenses

Posted by attorney Henry Lively

Medical expenses are deductible on Form 1040, Schedule A to the extent that they exceed 7.5 percent of your Adjusted Gross Income. This is the last line on Page 1 of your form 1040. Often times this is a large hurdle to cross and the taxpayer does not receive a deduction. However, if you know all of teh items that are deductible for medical expenses you can enhance your chance of receiving a deduction in this area. The IRS provides us with Publication 502 to provide us with guidance with the medical expense deduction. You can find a copy of this guide at

Below is a partial list of important deductions that you should not miss when you are computing your medical expense deduction:

  • Acupuncture
  • Air conditioner necessary for relief from allergies or other respiratory problems (less any increase in the value of your home resulting from installation of air conditioning)
  • Alcoholism treatment, including inpatient treatment, meals and lodging at a therapeutic center for alcohol addiction
  • Artificial limbs
  • Artificial teeth
  • Birth control pills prescribed by a doctor
  • Braille books and magazines used by a visually-impaired person
  • A clarinet and lessons to treat the improper alignment of a child's upper and lower teeth
  • Contact lenses, including equipment and materials for using contacts
  • Cosmetic surgery, if it's necessary to improve a deformity related to a congenital abnormality, accident or disease
  • Diet, special. When prescribed by a doctor, you can deduct the extra cost of purchasing special food to alleviate a specific medical condition
  • Doctor or physician expenses
  • Drug addiction treatment, including in-patient treatment, meals and lodging at a therapeutic center for drug addiction
  • Elastic hosiery to treat blood circulation problems
  • Exercise program if a doctor has recommended it as treatment for a specific condition
  • Extra rent or utilities for a larger apartment required in order to provide space for a nurse/attendant
  • Eye surgery, such as Lasik or a similar procedure, when it is not for cosmetic purposes only
  • Guide dog or other animal used by a visually-impaired, hearing-impaired or otherwise physically disabled person
  • Hospital care
  • Household help for nursing care services only
  • Insurance premiums for medical care coverage
  • Laboratory fees
  • Lead-based paint removal, including the cost of removing lead-based paints from surfaces when a child has lead poisoning or was previously diagnosed with lead poisoning. (Does not include the cost of repainting.)
  • Legal fees paid to authorize treatment for mental illness
  • Lifetime care advance payments
  • Lodging expenses while away from home to receive medical care in a hospital or medical facility
  • Long-term care insurance and long-term care expenses (there are limitations to what you can deduct)
  • Mattresses and boards bought specifically to alleviate an arthritic condition
  • Medical aids, including wheelchairs, hearing aids and batteries, eyeglasses, contact lenses, crutches, braces and guide dogs (and their care)
  • Medical conference admission costs and travel expenses for a chronically ill person or a parent of a chronically ill child to learn about new medical treatments. (But not the cost of meals and lodging while attending the conference)
  • Medicines and drugs
  • Nursing care
  • Nursing home expenses, including the entire cost of medical care, plus meals and lodging if the main reason for being in the home is to obtain medical care
  • Oxygen and oxygen equipment
  • Reclining chair bought on a doctor's advice by a person with a cardiac condition
  • Special education; tuition for sending a mentally impaired or physically disabled person to a special school that has resources to relieve the disability
  • Smoking cessation programs (does not have to be recommended by a physician)
  • Swimming (the cost of therapeutic swimming prescribed by a physician)
  • Telephone (the cost and repair of special telephone equipment for a hearing-impaired person)
  • Television (the cost of equipment used to display the audio part of a TV program for hearing-impaired persons)
  • Transplant of an organ (but not hair transplants)
  • Transportation costs for obtaining medical care
  • Travel expenses for parents visiting their child in a special school for children with drug problems, where the visits are part of the medical treatment
  • Weight loss program, if it is recommended by a doctor to treat a specific medical condition or to cure any specific ailment or disease
  • Whirlpool baths prescribed by a doctor
  • Wig for the mental health of a patient who has lost his or her hair due to a disease
  • X-ray services

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