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Some folks ask “just what is a medical expense” that I can deduct for income taxes?

Medical expenses eligible to be deducted as itemized deductions on Schedule A of your form 1040 include amounts paid for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, or paid for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body.

Medical expenses include transportation and lodging costs incurred on trips primarily for and essential to medical care; qualified long term care services; and medical insurance premiums, including Part B premiums for Social Security, supplemental medical insurance premiums and qualified long term care insurance premiums that do not exceed certain limits.

You don’t need a physician’s recommendation when the expenditures are for items that are wholly medical in nature and serve no other function.  If you pay for diagnostic tests and similar procedures, even if you are healthy, those are also deductible.

Payments for psychiatric treatment of sexual inadequacy are deductible, but marriage counseling fees are not.  Expenses for elective cosmetic surgery are not deductible unless the surgery or procedure is necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or a disfiguring disease.  Costs to whiten teeth discolored by age are not deductible, but costs for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy are deductible.  Costs for vision correction by laser surgery also qualify.

A weight loss program is a deductible medical expense if done to relieve a disease or defect such as obesity or hypertension.  Stop smoking programs, whether or not prescribed and prescription drugs to alleviate symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are also medical expenses.

The entire cost of maintenance in a nursing home or a home for the aged, including meals and lodging, is a medical expense if the individual is there because of a physical condition and the availability of medical care is a principal reason for being there.  If an individual is in such an institution primarily for personal or family reasons, then only that portion of the cost that is attributable to medical or nursing care (excluding meals and lodging) is deductible.  If you pay for someone to do both nursing care and housework, only the nursing cost is deductible.

The U.S. Supreme court found rent paid to spend winter months in Florida on the advice of his doctor was not a deductible medical expense.

Of course, you need to have enough medical expenses to exceed the “floor” to get an itemized deduction on Schedule A of your income tax return, form 1040.

Did you hear “The secret of happiness is to count your blessings, not your birthdays”.

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