Tax Deductions for Massage Therapy

by Christopher Raines ; Updated July 27, 2017
Young woman having a massage

Massages can relieve tension, anxiety, pain and tax burdens. Whether your trip to the massage therapist or spa yields tax breaks, and how you claim them, depends on the reason you are receiving the treatments.

Doctor's Orders

You can deduct massage therapy that is necessary to treat, prevent or bring relief from a disease or condition. Fatigue, depression, anxiety, blood pressure, migraines, back pain, bone injuries and muscle tension are some of the conditions treated through massage therapy. A doctor's prescription can help you substantiate the medical necessity of the therapy. You won't get a deduction to merely improve general health. Only those massage therapy costs, along with other medical expenses, that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (found on Line 38, Form 1040) are deductible.

For Your Job

If your job, such as a professional athlete, depends on your body's condition, your massage therapy can qualify as an employee expense to be deducted on Schedule A of Form 1040. For instance, at least one court stated that a hockey player could write off the costs of off-season conditioning exercises required for performing at training camp and in the regular season. The deduction applies to your unreimbursed expenses and only to the extent that the expenses are more than 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.

Paying a Sales Tax

In certain places, such as New York City and Minnesota, you pay sales taxes on massage services unless you're receiving them for medical reasons. Taxes you pay to state or local governments are claimed as itemized deductions on Schedule A of your Form 1040. Contact your state's tax office -- typically the department of revenue -- or your city or town's tax department to learn if you owe sales tax on your therapy. The sales tax deduction helps those who receive massages for personal relaxation as well as those who need the therapy for medical reasons or to perform a job or trade.

On Tour

Self-employed professionals who use their bodies, such as golfers, tennis players and figure skaters, also rely on massage therapy. If you're in this category, your tax break comes as expenses to offset your earnings from competitions, appearance fees and endorsements. If you're operating as a sole proprietor, you report massage therapy expenses on Schedule C of Form 1040. Unlike the unreimbursed employee expenses and medical expenses reported on Schedule A, there is no floor for business expenses.

About the Author

Christopher Raines enjoys sharing his knowledge of business, financial matters and the law. He earned his business administration and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a lawyer since August 1996, Raines has handled cases involving business, consumer and other areas of the law.

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