IRS Deductions for Medical Expenses

by Mack Mitzsheva ; Updated April 19, 2017
The IRS allows for certain medical expenses to be deducted from your tax bill.

The Internal Revenue Service is charged with collecting tax revenue from taxpayers in the U.S. And although taxpayers are responsible for payment of taxes, the IRS does allow for certain deductions that reduce the amount of taxes owed to the government. One such deduction is for medical expenses paid by taxpayers for themselves or for a dependent or a spouse. One important caveat to keep in mind: Most medical expenses are deductible only to the extent that they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. Most medical expenses you incur up to that point won't be deductible.

Health Insurance Premiums

The IRS allows for a deduction of the cost of health insurance premiums, which is the cost you pay monthly or yearly for health insurance. To be deductible, the premiums must be paid from your own wages, income or other source of funds. If the premiums are deducted from your wages, you can view your W-2 to ascertain how much may be deductible. If you pay the provider directly, you can calculate the amount that may be deductible by viewing your bank statements or canceled checks.

Medical Treatment

Medical treatment is also usually tax deductible. Medical services are those rendered by a physician, podiatrist, dentist, ophthalmologist, nurse practitioner, chiropractor or specialists. This applies if your services were the result of a primary visit or for the purpose of obtaining a second opinion. You can also deduct service costs from a visit to a therapist, for treatment that is either physical or psychological. Deductible amounts include not only the full cost of the visit, if applicable, but also for co-pays.

Medical Equipment

Payments made for medical devices are tax deductible as well. This deduction applies to devices that assist patients who suffer from disabling or debilitating conditions. This can also apply to dental conditions as well. Examples of acceptable medical devices include eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, wheelchairs, braces, podiatric footwear, or any other physical device prescribed by a physician or other health care provider. Keep a copy of all receipts for purchases of medical equipment. This will make it easier to know how much is deductible come tax time.


Medicine purchased is also tax deductible, as long as it is obtained via a prescription from a heath care provider. This applies not only to medication to treat a chronic or acute condition, but to medications prescribed to support the underlying health of the patient, such as vitamins and supplements. Keep in mind that the deduction for medicines does not apply to OTC's, or medicinal products purchased over the counter. Although the patient may use OTC's, only prescribed medications can be included as a tax deduction. You also cannot deduct prescriptions brought in or shipped from another country. If you're ever uncertain about a tax deduction, seek the guidance of a tax professional for assistance.


Travel that is necessary to get you and your caregiver close to necessary procedures can be a deductible expense. The amounts you can deduct per mile for travel are set by the IRS. For 2012, the per mile deduction is set at 23 cents per mile. For 2011, it was 19 cents per mile through the first six months of the year, rising to 23.5 cents per mile in the last half. You might also be able to deduct expenses for meals and lodging that are necessary for the receipt of medical expenses, even if they are not directly provided by a hospital or nursing home. The expenses must be necessitated by medical treatment, it can't be "lavish or extravagant," according to the IRS's interpretation of those words, and it can't involve a significant element of recreation mixed in with your medical needs. IRS Publication 502 describes most of the rules for medical deductions.

About the Author

Mack Mitzsheva is a tax lawyer, personal finance expert and the author of the forthcoming ebook, "10 Best Places to Work Online." Mitzsheva is also a social media entrepreneur with five successful sites under her belt. Always innovative, Mitzsheva is currently developing a cutting-edge budgeting app for newlyweds.

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