Go ahead: Deduct the therapeutic tuba lessons

first_imgThe key is whether the expense involves the diagnosis, cure, treatment or prevention of a disease or health condition for you, a spouse or a dependent. Don’t stretch it too far. Health clubs, therapeutic dance lessons, marriage counseling, tattooing, sex-change operations and diaper services don’t qualify as medical expenses. Divorce costs, even if recommended by a psychiatrist, don’t qualify. Also not deductible: funeral and burial expenses, toothpaste, toiletries, cosmetics and most cosmetic surgery, unless necessary to improve a disfigurement from disease, birth or accidental injury. Still, legitimate expenses do add up. They can include air conditioners for relief of allergies or breathing problems, hearing aids, eyeglasses, contact lenses, Braille books, adapters for closed-caption service for the deaf, orthopedic shoes, crutches, wheelchairs, wigs for those who’ve lost hair through disease, and legal fees for guardianship of a mentally ill spouse. Deducting clarinet lessons was permitted because a dentist recommended them to treat tooth defects, LeValley noted. Traditional health expenses – doctor visits, laboratory tests and prescription drugs – qualify, but so do alternative procedures such as acupuncture, Navajo healing “sings,” electric shock, whirlpool baths, hydrotherapy and heat treatments. (Marijuana isn’t deductible.) WASHINGTON – What do doctor visits, Navajo healing ceremonies and clarinet lessons have in common? All can qualify, under the right circumstances, as tax-deductible medical expenses. It’s not that easy to take the deduction – medical expenses must exceed 7.5percent of adjusted gross income before they can be deducted. On the other hand, taxpayers can cast a wide net to reach that threshold, making it easier than you think. Costs for elastic hosiery, seeing-eye dogs, stop-smoking and weight-loss programs, lead paint removal, special mattresses for relief of arthritis or spine problems, reclining chairs prescribed by a doctor – all have been permitted by either the Internal Revenue Service or the U.S. Tax Court, where tax disputes are heard. “If it was prescribed for a medical purpose or to alleviate a condition, you have a good chance of getting it through,” said Donna LeValley, a tax attorney and contributing editor of the J.K. Lasser tax publications. Childbirth classes for expectant mothers are deductible, and so are remedial reading expenses for a child suffering from dyslexia and the wages of a blind person’s guide. Health insurance premiums, including Medicare B supplemental insurance and Part D prescription drug insurance, are deductible. But you can’t deduct insurance premiums paid by an employer-sponsored health insurance plan unless the premiums are included in Box 1 of your Form W-2. Also, be sure to subtract insurance company reimbursement from the expenses you submit for the medical expenses deduction. Keep in mind that no medical expenses can be deducted until the 7.5percent adjusted gross income threshold is reached, and even then only by taxpayers who itemize deductions. (For more information, see the IRS Publication 502, “Medical and Dental Expenses.”) Here’s a list of some deductible medical expenses: Fees paid to doctors, dentists, surgeons, chiropractors, psychiatrists, psychologists and Christian Science practitioners. Hospital services, certain long-term care services, nursing services and laboratory fees. Acupuncture treatments or in-patient treatment at a center for alcohol or drug addiction. Costs of stop-smoking programs and drugs prescribed to alleviate nicotine withdrawal. Costs of participating in a weight-loss program for a specific disease, including obesity, diagnosed by a physician, but not the cost of purchasing diet food items. Transportation expenses for trips to doctors’ offices, health care facilities and laboratories. Ambulance fees. Meals and lodging charged by the hospital if you’re there for medical care. Insurance premiums for accident and health or qualified long-term care insurance. False teeth, prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses, laser eye surgery, hearing aids, crutches, wheelchairs, and guide dogs for the blind or deaf. Canes, walkers, orthopedic shoes and other equipment for the disabled. Nursing home expenses incurred for medical care. Over-the-counter medical supplies. Costs of home renovation to improve handicapped access.last_img

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