Individual and Family

Medical Expenses and Taxes: What You Need to Know

Updated on February 28, 2020

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Medical expenses can add up, especially if you experience unforeseen emergencies that aren’t covered by your health insurance. The good news is that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has made some of these expenses partly tax-deductible.

How much can I deduct?

For the 2019 tax year, you can deduct qualified medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.  Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, all taxpayers may deduct only the amount of the total unreimbursed allowable medical care expenses for the year that exceeds 10% of their adjusted gross income.
Your adjusted gross income is your taxable income minus any adjustments, such as deductions, contributions to your IRA, and student loan interest.

For example, if you have an adjusted gross income of $50,000 and $6,250 of medical expenses, you would multiply $50,000 by 0.075 (7.5 percent) to determine that only expenses exceeding $3,750 can be deducted. This leaves you with a medical expense deduction of $2,500 (6,250 – 3,750).

Which medical expenses are deductible?

Standard, qualified medical expenses that you can deduct include:

  • Preventative care
  • Treatment
  • Surgeries
  • Dental and vision care.

You can also deduct visits to psychologists and psychiatrists. Prescription medications and appliances such as glasses, contacts, and hearing aids are also deductible. The IRS also lets you deduct the expenses that you pay to travel for medical care, such as care mileage and parking fees.

You cannot deduct any medical expenses for which you are reimbursed. You also cannot deduct expenses for cosmetic procedures, non-prescription drugs (except insulin), or general health purchases, like band-aids, vitamins, or toothpaste.

How do I claim my medical expenses?

To claim your medical expenses as a deduction on your taxes, you need to itemize your deductions. Itemizing your deductions means that you do not take the standard deduction. You should only claim the medical expenses deduction if your itemized deductions are greater than your standard deduction.
To learn more about how to itemize your deductions, including your medical expenses, we recommend consulting a tax professional.

This information is current for the 2019 tax year. For more information, including a complete listing of deductible medical expenses, visit the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc502

This article is intended to provide generalized tax information. It does not give personalized tax advice.

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