Tax Deduction for Medical and Dental Expenses

If you have a large medical expense this year, consider itemizing your deductions with TaxSlayer.

If you have significant medical expenses, you may receive some relief on your taxes. Events like unforeseen emergencies and complications can leave you scrambling for cash, so the IRS created a deduction for certain expensive medical and dental items. 

What medical and dental expenses can I deduct? 

The IRS has defined some qualifying medical expenses, including: 

  • Dental care 
  • Vision care  
  • Preventative care 
  • Treatment 
  • Prescription medications  
  • Surgeries 
  • Visits to psychologists  
  • Visits to psychiatrists 
  • Appliances like glasses, contacts, false teeth and hearing aids  

In addition to these tangible items, the IRS will allow you to deduct certain travel expenses related to medical care. For example, if you are required to travel to a different city to receive specialized treatment, you may be able to deduct mileage, parking fees at the hospital or care facility, and even bus or train fare. 

For a more detailed list of medical and dental items you can deduct, read What kinds of medical and dental expenses can or cannot be deducted? 

What expenses can’t be deducted? 

If you pay for some expenses out of pocket but then are reimbursed by your employer or your insurance company, those expenses can’t be deducted on your tax return. If you undergo a procedure for cosmetic reasons, you can’t deduct those expenses. Drugs taken without a prescription are also not able to be deducted unless it is insulin.  

Healthrelated items such as toothpaste and toothbrushes, fitness memberships, vitamins and supplements, and diet plans can’t be deducted. You are also only able to claim expenses that were paid for in the tax year in question; prior year medical expenses can’t be deducted. 

How do I calculate my deduction? 

Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS allowed you to deduct qualified medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI. This was also true for tax years 2017 and 2018. However, in 2019, the threshold has increased to 10% of your adjusted gross income. These expenses must be unreimbursed. 

How do I claim the deduction? 

You must itemize your deductions to claim your medical costs. File with Form 1040 and attach Schedule A for itemized deductions.  

For more specific information on claiming this deduction, read Can I claim my medical and dental expenses? 

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