Can You Claim Eyeglasses As a Deduction on Taxes?

by Tara Thomas ; Updated March 15, 2018
You may be eligible to deduct your eyeglasses on your taxes.

Qualifying medical, dental and vision expenses, such as eyeglasses, are tax deductible. Although you can deduct the cost of eyeglasses, they must be prescription eyeglasses and not a fashion accessory. For tax years 2017 and 2018, you’re able to deduct amounts of eligible unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, or AGI. This 7.5 percent was set to expire in 2016, but has been extended through 2018. However, with the introduction of recent tax reforms, this threshold increases to 10 percent deductions on qualifying medical expenses for the 2019 tax year.

How Much Can I Deduct?

The amount of total medical deductions must exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income in order to be eligible. Unless you have additional qualifying medical expenses that (including your eyeglasses) exceed this 7.5 percent, you cannot deduct eyeglasses on your tax return. For example, if your AGI for 2017 was $50,000, then 7.5 percent of your AGI would be $3,750. This means that you would only be able to deduct qualifying medical expenses over $3,751. Further, to claim these unreimbursed medical expense deductions, you must itemize your deductions on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040. You cannot deduct any medical expenses if you plan to take standard deductions.

When Can I Claim These Deductions?

When claiming medical deductions for yourself, you must write them off for the year in which the services were paid, and not when they were rendered. In this case, you would write your eyeglasses off, along with other eligible deductions, for the year you actually paid for them and not necessarily when you received them. If you paid for eyeglasses and other qualifying medical expenses in 2017, but you do not actually receive them until 2018, then you must deduct these unreimbursed expenses on your 2017 tax return.

The IRS also allows you to claim medical deductions for your spouse or qualifying dependent. However, the rules on claiming medical-related deductions for expenses you’ve paid on behalf of a spouse or dependent are different than claiming these deductions for yourself. You can claim the deductions for your spouse or dependent either in the year the services were paid for, or in the year in which they were provided.

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Are Itemized Deductions Subject to Phase-Out?

After a certain income, the amount you’re able to deduct is reduced or phased out. Itemized deductions start to phase out after certain AGI thresholds or limits are met, and vary by filing status. For 2017, single filers start to see a phase-out of itemized deductions when their AGI is at $261,500 or more. Head of household filers reach their phase-out limit at $287,650, while married filing separately phase-outs begin at $156,900. Married filing jointly and qualifying widow/ers see phase-out at $313,800 AGI, and married filing separately status has itemized deduction phase-out starting at $156,900.

About the Author

Tara Thomas is a Los Angeles-based writer and avid world traveler. Her articles appear in various online publications, including Sapling, PocketSense, Zacks, Livestrong, Modern Mom and SF Gate. She began her writing career in high school authoring grant proposals for a Southern California marine science laboratory where she volunteered. This helped her develop a lifelong passion for environmentalism which encouraged her to obtain a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach. Thomas is also an event consultant/planner, spent 10 years as a mortgage consultant and enjoys penning on the topics of personal finance, travel and sustainable practices.

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