Wacky Medical Expenses You May Be Able To Claim

medical expensesWhat expenses can you claim? Tax codes can be overwhelming. Navigating the always changing, always gray area of deductions can give even the most experienced tax advisors a migraine. However, if you learn how to play your deduction cards right, you’ll find yourself keeping a lot more money than you might expect. This can be especially true when it comes to medical deductions. With just a few, simple adjustments to your tax strategy, it can almost feel like the IRS is paying people to get healthy!

Here are 9 wacky medical deductions that actually worked:

  1. Alternative medicine: The IRS approved a deduction for a Navajo healing ceremony, a series of songs and chants performed to lessen pain and break curses.
  2. Music that heals: After an orthodontist confirmed that playing the clarinet was helping to correct a boy’s overbite, the mom was able to claim the cost of her son’s lessons as a medical expense!
  3. Animal training: A hearing-impaired taxpayer was able to claim the cost of training his cat to alert him to unusual sounds. If you or a dependent has a hearing or a visual impairment, you may be able to classify your pet as a service animal and claim the cost of training the animal on your taxes.
  4. In-patient treatment: In true celebrity style, many celebrity taxpayers have claimed in-patient treatment – for everything from drug and alcohol addiction to eating disorders – as medical expenses. This includes all food, lodging, and other therapy expenses. And if you know anything about in-patient treatment centers, you know, they don’t come cheap!
  5. Home improvements: One taxpayer’s doctor told him to start exercising regularly as a way to manage his emphysema. His family had a pool installed, which he used twice a day, more often than the rest of his family, in order to improve his breathing. He was able to write off the cost of the pool because swimming was a prescribed therapy.
  6. Organic food: One woman was able to claim a deduction for the difference in cost between the chemically treated food most shoppers buy and the organic fruits and vegetables she purchased.
  7. Dance lessons: A woman was able to deduct $8,000 worth of dance lessons because her doctor recommended dancing as a treatment for her osteoarthritis.
  8. Smoking cessation products: Some smokers have been able to deduct the cost of things such as nicotine gum or patches, which help with quitting smoking.
  9. Gym membership: For taxpayers who have had an exercise regimen prescribed by their doctor, gym memberships are often deductible.

As you can see, many different types of alternative medicine and other things that you would never think of as “medical” are deductible as long as you have the documentation to prove they are being used to help with a specific medical, emotional, or psychological condition. Other qualifying therapies include hydrotherapy, electroshock therapy, chiropractic care, and whirlpool baths but there are many others that you should discuss with your CPA. The key is proper planning and documentation. If it’s not supported by your doctor, it won’t be supported by the IRS. Be sure to talk with your doctor and document everything.

You’ll also want to check with your tax advisor before trying to make any deductions of medical expenses. There are some rules; for example, you can only claim medical expenses if they amount to more than 10% of your total income, and only if the expenses have not been reimbursed by insurance or some other means.

If you need more help figuring out what may work for you and what definitely won’t, contact us now for a referral to a Certified Tax Coach that can help you.

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