Taxpayers can deduct most expenses related to treating, preventing, diagnosing, curing or mitigating a medical condition. Along with typical expenses like prescriptions and copayments, travel to and from medical visits is also a valid expense. As long as the primary purpose of the visit is to receive medical care, transportation expenses are tax deductible. Some lodging and meals can also be deducted.
Deducting Medical Expenses
Taxpayers need a large amount of medical expenses before they can deduct them for tax purposes. They can deduct their own medical expenses as well as medical expenses paid for spouses and dependents. But in order to itemize medical expenses, taxpayers must forgo the standard deduction. Also, taxpayers can only deduct medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of their adjusted gross income. So if your adjusted gross income is $40,000 and you have $10,000 in medical expenses, only $6,000 is deductible. Taxpayers over the age of 65 have the same rule, but their limit is 7.5 percent rather than 10 percent.
Costs of Travel
Costs incurred while traveling to medical care are deductible along with other medical expenses. To qualify, the trip must be essential to receive medical care and the primary purpose of the trip must be for medical care. You can also deduct travel expenses if you're accompanying your child to receive medical care. If you have a mentally ill dependent and regular visits are part of his treatment plan, you can deduct the expense of traveling to see him.
Lodging and Meals
If you travel overnight, the IRS lets you deduct the cost of hotels or other lodging. However, the maximum you can deduct for lodging is $50 per person traveling. If someone is traveling with you, like a parent or a caregiver, you can deduct $50 for her as well. If you travel with an elderly parent for his medical care, for example, you can deduct a maximum of $100 per night. Meals and food purchased while traveling aren't deductible, but meals purchased in a hospital while receiving treatment are.
Calculating Transportation Costs
The way you calculate medical traveling expenses depends on your method of transportation. If you took a taxi, bus, car service, ambulance or train to reach your destination, deduct the amount of the fare and any additional fees you paid. If you used your personal vehicle, you have two options for calculating the expense. One option is to calculate your actual out-of-pocket expenses while driving, like gas and oil purchases. If you'd rather not keep track that way, you can use the IRS standard mileage deduction for medical travel and multiply it by the amount of miles you drove for medical care. As of publication, the rate is 23.5 cents per mile but it can change from year to year.
- IRS.gov: Publication 502
- Lawyers.com: Deductible Medical Travel and Transportation Costs
- Congress.gov. "H.R.3301 – Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019." Accessed Jan. 4, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "IRS Provides Tax Inflation Adjustments for Tax Year 2020." Accessed Jan. 4, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Itemize or Choose the Standard Deduction." Accessed Jan. 4, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Schedule A Itemized Deductions." Accessed Jan. 6, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "2019 Instructions for Schedule A (2019)." Accessed Jan. 4, 2019.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 502 (2018) Medical and Dental Expenses." Accessed Jan. 6, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "IRS Issues Standard Mileage Rates for 2020." Accessed Jan. 4, 2020.
Based in San Diego, Calif., Madison Garcia is a writer specializing in business topics. Garcia received her Master of Science in accountancy from San Diego State University.