While it is common knowledge
that taxpayers may deduct qualified medical
expenses for themselves and their dependent
children, other opportunities to deduct medical
expenses are not so widely known. One is the
deduction of medical expenses that a taxpayer pays
on behalf of others, such as elderly family
members and domestic partners, even if they are
not claimed as dependents. Several other medical
deductions are commonly overlooked.
RELAXED DEFINITION OF “DEPENDENT”
Taxpayers can deduct qualifying medical
expenses paid on behalf of individuals whom they
could claim as dependents except for the fact that
the individuals claim dependents of their own,
file a joint return or receive gross income in
excess of the exemption amount. The child of an
ill parent, for example, can deduct payments for
the parent’s health care costs provided all other
dependency requirements are met, even though the
parent files a joint return and has gross income
greater than $3,400.
Unrelated members of
a taxpayer’s household may also qualify as
dependents. In some circumstances the medical
expenses of a domestic partner are deductible.
However, the dependency requirements for unrelated
parties are stricter than those for family
members; an unrelated person must share the same
principal place of abode as the taxpayer and
be a member of the taxpayer’s household for
the taxpayer’s entire tax year.
LONG-TERM CARE COSTS
The treatment of a chronic illness or
disability can be extremely costly. Fortunately,
certain services that would otherwise be
nondeductible as medical expenses are deductible
qualified long-term care costs:
- Long-term care insurance premiums subject to
- Maintenance and personal care services,
including meal preparation and housekeeping, if
the services are rendered to assist with daily
activities that chronically ill individuals are
unable to perform on their own.
- Meals and lodging for an in-home caregiver if
the caregiver is unrelated or is licensed.
- Nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and
dementia facilities. All reasonable
costs—including those for meals, lodging and
personal care—are deductible if the patient is
admitted for medical reasons.
COMMONLY OVERLOOKED DEDUCTIONS
detailed discussion of the issues in this area, see
“Opportunities to Claim Health Care Expenses as
Deductions,” by Donald L. Williamson, CPA, J.D., in
the October 2007 issue of The Tax Adviser.
- Nonelective cosmetic surgery (that is,
promoting proper function of the body or
preventing or treating illness or disease).
- Dental work, if not purely cosmetic.
- Hearing aids and prescription eyeglasses,
including the cost of examinations and
- Non-physician-provided medical services if
related to a medical condition, including
nontraditional treatments, such as acupuncture
and Christian Science healing practices.
- Psychotherapy and psychiatric counseling.
- Smoking-cessation programs, including
prescription drugs to alleviate nicotine
- Transportation to and from medical treatment,
including tolls and parking.
- Weight-loss programs for treatment of
—Alistair M. Nevius, editor-in-chief
The Tax Adviser