In Actor Speak
Keep track of all of your medical expenses through the year. Your total medical expenses have to exceed 10% of your AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) before they start to count. Unfortunately you never know when an emergency or accident may occur and when it does then every dollar will matter.
We thought we would cover here a few items that taxpayers have asked about in the past and we have had to explain are NOT deductible as a medical expense:
WHAT EXPENSES ARE NOT INCLUDIBLE?
The items are listed in alphabetical order.
You cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for controlled substances (such as marijuana, laetrile, etc.). Such substances may be legalized by state law. However, they are in violation of federal law and cannot be included in medical expenses.
Generally, you cannot include in medical expenses the amount you pay for unnecessary cosmetic surgery. This includes any procedure that is directed at improving the patient's appearance and does not meaningfully promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness or disease. You generally cannot include in medical expenses the amount you pay for procedures such as face lifts, hair transplants, hair removal (electrolysis), and liposuction.
You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for cosmetic surgery if it is necessary to improve a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or a disfiguring disease.
You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of dancing lessons, swimming lessons, etc., even if they are recommended by a doctor, if they are only for the improvement of general health.
Electrolysis or Hair Removal
Health Club Dues
You cannot include in medical expenses health club dues or amounts paid to improve one's general health or to relieve physical or mental discomfort not related to a particular medical condition.
You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of membership in any club organized for business, pleasure, recreation, or other social purpose.
Illegal Operations and Treatments
You cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for illegal operations, treatments, or controlled substances whether rendered or prescribed by licensed or unlicensed practitioners.
You cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for maternity clothes.
Medicines and Drugs From Other Countries
In general, you cannot include in your medical expenses the cost of a prescribed drug brought in (or ordered shipped) from another country. You can only include the cost of a drug that was imported legally. For example, you can include the cost of a prescribed drug the Food and Drug Administration announces can be legally imported by individuals.
You can include the cost of a prescribed drug you purchase and consume in another country if the drug is legal in both the other country and the United States.
Nonprescription Drugs and Medicines
Except for insulin, you cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for a drug that is not prescribed.
You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of nutritional supplements, vitamins, herbal supplements, “natural medicines,” etc. unless they are recommended by a medical practitioner as treatment for a specific medical condition diagnosed by a physician. Otherwise, these items are taken to maintain your ordinary good health, and are not for medical care.
Personal Use Items
You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of an item ordinarily used for personal, living, or family purposes unless it is used primarily to prevent or alleviate a physical or mental defect or illness. For example, the cost of a toothbrush and toothpaste is a nondeductible personal expense.
You cannot include in medical expenses amounts paid to whiten teeth.
You generally cannot include veterinary fees in your medical expenses, but see Guide Dog or Other Service Animal under What Medical Expenses Are Includible, earlier.
In the Words of the IRS:
"Medical care expenses must be primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental defect or illness. They do not include expenses that are merely beneficial to general health, such as vitamins or a vacation. "
What Are Medical Expenses?
Medical expenses are the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body. These expenses include payments for legal medical services rendered by physicians, surgeons, dentists, and other medical practitioners. They include the costs of equipment, supplies, and diagnostic devices needed for these purposes.
Medical expenses include the premiums you pay for insurance that covers the expenses of medical care, and the amounts you pay for transportation to get medical care. Medical expenses also include amounts paid for qualified long-term care services and limited amounts paid for any qualified long-term care insurance contract.
What Expenses Can You Include This Year?
You can include only the medical and dental expenses you paid this year, regardless of when the services were provided. If you pay medical expenses by check, the day you mail or deliver the check generally is the date of payment. If you use a “pay-by-phone” or “online” account to pay your medical expenses, the date reported on the statement of the financial institution showing when payment was made is the date of payment. If you use a credit card, include medical expenses you charge to your credit card in the year the charge is made, not when you actually pay the amount charged.
You cannot include medical expenses that were paid by insurance companies or other sources. This is true whether the payments were made directly to you, to the patient, or to the provider of the medical services.
If you and your spouse live in a noncommunity property state and file separate returns, each of you can include only the medical expenses each actually paid. Any medical expenses paid out of a joint checking account in which you and your spouse have the same interest are considered to have been paid equally by each of you, unless you can show otherwise.
Community Property States
If you and your spouse live in a community property state and file separate returns or are registered domestic partners in Nevada, Washington, or California (or a person in California who is married to a person of the same sex), any medical expenses paid out of community funds are divided equally. Each of you should include half the expenses. If medical expenses are paid out of the separate funds of one individual, only the individual who paid the medical expenses can include them. If you live in a community property state and are not filing a joint return, see Publication 555, Community Property.
How Much of the Expenses Can You Deduct?
You can deduct on Schedule A (Form 1040) only the amount of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 7.5% of your AGI (Form 1040, line 38).
The term “7.5% limit” is used to refer to 7.5% of your AGI. The phrase “subject to the 7.5% limit” is also used. This phrase means that you must subtract 7.5% (.075) of your AGI from your medical expenses to figure your medical expense deduction.
Whose Medical Expenses Can You Include?
You can generally include medical expenses you pay for yourself, as well as those you pay for someone who was your spouse or your dependent either when the services were provided or when you paid for them. There are different rules for decedents and for individuals who are the subject of multiple support agreements.
You can include medical expenses you paid for your dependent. For you to include these expenses, the person must have been your dependent either at the time the medical services were provided or at the time you paid the expenses. A person generally qualifies as your dependent for purposes of the medical expense deduction if both of the following requirements are met.
The person was a qualifying child (defined later) or a qualifying relative (defined later), and
The person was a U.S. citizen or national or a resident of the United States, Canada, or Mexico. If your qualifying child was adopted, see Exception for adopted child, below.
You can include medical expenses you paid for an individual that would have been your dependent except that:
He or she received gross income of $3,700 or more in 2011,
He or she filed a joint return for 2011, or
You, or your spouse if filing jointly, could be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2011 return.
Exception for adopted child
If you are a U.S. citizen or national and your adopted child lived with you as a member of your household for 2011, that child does not have to be a U.S. citizen or national, or a resident of the United States, Canada, or Mexico.
A qualifying relative is a person:
Who is your:
Son, daughter, stepchild, or foster child, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild),
Brother, sister, half brother, half sister, or a son or daughter of any of them,
Father, mother, or an ancestor or sibling of either of them (for example, your grandmother, grandfather, aunt, or uncle),
Stepbrother, stepsister, stepfather, stepmother, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law, or
Any other person (other than your spouse) who lived with you all year as a member of your household if your relationship did not violate local law,
Who was not a qualifying child of any taxpayer for 2017, and
For whom you provided over half of the support in 2017.
You can include in medical expenses amounts paid for transportation primarily for, and essential to, medical care.
You can include:
Bus, taxi, train, or plane fares or ambulance service,
Transportation expenses of a parent who must go with a child who needs medical care,
Transportation expenses of a nurse or other person who can give injections, medications, or other treatment required by a patient who is traveling to get medical care and is unable to travel alone, and
Transportation expenses for regular visits to see a mentally ill dependent, if these visits are recommended as a part of treatment.
You can include out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of gas and oil, when you use a car for medical reasons. You cannot include depreciation, insurance, general repair, or maintenance expenses.
If you do not want to use your actual expenses for 2011 you can use the standard medical mileage rate of 19 cents a mile for miles driven from January 1 to June 30, and 23.5 cents a mile for miles driven from July 1 to December 31, 2011.
You can also include parking fees and tolls. You can add these fees and tolls to your medical expenses whether you use actual expenses or use the standard mileage rate.