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.
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.
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.
- IRS.gov: Publication 502 -- Medical and Dental Expenses
- University of California San Francisco: Conditions & Treatments: Massage
- IRS.gov: Publication 529 -- Miscellaneous Deductions
- Fordham University Law: LEXIS: Stemkowski v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue
- H&R Block: Block Talk -- For Pro Golfers, Tough Taxes Are Par For the Course; Michael Lankford
- National Institutes of Health: National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Role of Massage in Sports Performance and Rehabilitation -- Current Evidence and Future Direction; Jason Brummitt
- Minnesota Revenue: Sales and Use Tax Division: Massages
- New York State Department of Taxation and Finance: Miscellaneous Personal Services and Related Sales in New York Cit
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