Some individuals should itemize their deductions because it will save them money. Others should itemize because they do not qualify for the standard deduction. See the discussion under Standard Deduction, earlier, to decide if it would be to your advantage to itemize deductions.
Medical and dental expenses, some taxes, certain interest expenses, charitable contributions, casualty and theft losses, and certain other miscellaneous expenses may be itemized as deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040 or Form 1040NR).
You may be subject to a limit on some of your itemized deductions if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is more than $166,800 ($83,400 if married filing separately).
You may benefit from itemizing your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040 or Form 1040NR) if you:
- Cannot take the standard deduction,
- Had uninsured medical or dental expenses that are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (see Medical and Dental Expenses, next),
- Paid interest (including mortgage insurance premiums) and taxes on your home,
- Had large unreimbursed employee business expenses or other miscellaneous deductions,
- Had large uninsured casualty or theft losses,
- Made large contributions to qualified charities (see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions), or
- Have total itemized deductions that are more than the standard deduction to which you otherwise are entitled.
See the Schedule A (Form 1040 or Form 1040NR) instructions for more information.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043683
You can deduct certain medical and dental expenses you paid for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents, if you itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040).
Table 4-1 shows items that you can or cannot include in figuring your medical expense deduction. For more information, see the following discussions of selected items, which are presented in alphabetical order. More information can also be found in Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.
You can deduct only the amount of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income shown on Form 1040, line 38.
Generally, you can include only the medical and dental expenses you paid this year, regardless of when the services were provided. If you pay medical expenses by check, the day you mail or deliver the check generally is the date of payment. If you use a pay-by-phone or online account to pay your medical expenses, the date reported on the statement of the financial institution showing when payment was made is the date of payment. You can include medical expenses you charge to your credit card in the year the charge is made. It does not matter when you actually pay the amount charged. taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043686
You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for home improvements if their main purpose is medical care for you, your spouse, or your dependent.
Only reasonable costs to accommodate a home to your disabled condition (or that of your spouse or your dependents who live with you) are considered medical care. Additional costs for personal motives, such as for architectural or aesthetic reasons, are not medical expenses. Publication 502 contains additional information and examples, including a capital expense worksheet, to assist you in figuring the amount of the capital expense that you can include in your medical expenses. Also, see Publication 502 for information about deductible operating and upkeep expenses related to such capital expense items, and for information about improvements, for medical reasons, to property rented by a person with disabilities. taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043687
You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of household help, even if such help is recommended by a doctor. This is a personal expense that is not deductible. However, you may be able to include certain expenses paid to a person providing nursing-type services. For more information, see Nursing Services, later. Also, certain maintenance or personal care services provided for qualified long-term care can be included in medical expenses. For more information, see Qualified long-term care services under Long-Term Care, later.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043688
You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for the cost of inpatient care at a hospital or similar institution if a principal reason for being there is to receive medical care. This includes amounts paid for meals and lodging. Also, see Meals and Lodging, later. taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043689
You can include in medical expenses amounts paid for qualified long-term care services and premiums paid for qualified long-term care insurance contracts.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043690
Qualified long-term care services are necessary diagnostic, preventive, therapeutic, curing, treating, mitigating, rehabilitative services, and maintenance and personal care services (defined later) that are:
- Required by a chronically ill individual, and
- Provided pursuant to a plan of care prescribed by a licensed health care practitioner.
An individual is chronically ill if, within the previous 12 months, a licensed health care practitioner has certified that the individual meets either of the following descriptions.
- He or she is unable to perform at least two activities of daily living without substantial assistance from another individual for at least 90 days, due to a loss of functional capacity. Activities of daily living are eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing, and continence.
- He or she requires substantial supervision to be protected from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive impairment.
Maintenance or personal care services is care which has as its primary purpose the providing of a chronically ill individual with needed assistance with his or her disabilities (including protection from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive impairment).taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043693
A qualified long-term care insurance contract is an insurance contract that provides only coverage of qualified long-term care services. The contract must:
- Be guaranteed renewable,
- Not provide for a cash surrender value or other money that can be paid, assigned, pledged, or borrowed,
- Provide that refunds, other than refunds on the death of the insured or complete surrender or cancellation of the contract, and dividends under the contract must be used only to reduce future premiums or increase future benefits, and
- Generally not pay or reimburse expenses incurred for services or items that would be reimbursed under Medicare, except where Medicare is a secondary payer, or the contract makes per diem or other periodic payments without regard to expenses.
The amount of qualified long-term care premiums you can include is limited. You can include the following as medical expenses on Schedule A (Form 1040).
- Qualified long-term care premiums up to the amounts shown below.
- Age 40 or under – $320.
- Age 41 to 50 – $600.
- Age 51 to 60 – $1,190.
- Age 61 to 70 – $3,180.
- Age 71 or over – $3,980.
- Unreimbursed expenses for qualified long-term care services.
The limit on premiums is for each person.
You can include in medical expenses the cost of meals and lodging at a hospital or similar institution if your main reason for being there is to receive medical care.
You may be able to include in medical expenses the cost of lodging (but not meals) not provided in a hospital or similar institution. You can include the cost of such lodging while away from home if all of the following requirements are met.
- The lodging is primarily for, and essential to, medical care.
- The medical care is provided by a doctor in a licensed hospital or in a medical care facility related to, or the equivalent of, a licensed hospital.
- The lodging is not lavish or extravagant under the circumstances.
- There is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation, or vacation in the travel away from home.
The amount you include in medical expenses for lodging cannot be more than $50 per night for each person. You can include lodging for a person traveling with the person receiving the medical care. For example, if a parent is traveling with a sick child, up to $100 per night can be included as a medical expense for lodging. (Meals are not included.) taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043696
You can include in medical expenses the cost of medical care in a nursing home or a home for the aged for yourself, your spouse, or your dependents. This includes the cost of meals and lodging in the home if a main reason for being there is to get medical care.
Do not include the cost of meals and lodging if the reason for being in the home is personal. However, you can include in medical expenses the part of the cost that is for medical or nursing care.
Table 4-1. Medical and Dental Expenses Checklist
| You can include: || You cannot include: |
- Capital expenses for equipment or improvements to your home needed for medical care (see Publication 502)
- Certain weight-loss expenses for obesity
- Diagnostic devices
- Expenses of an organ donor
- Eye surgery—to promote the correct function of the eye
- Guide dogs or other animals aiding the blind, deaf, and disabled
- Hospital services fees (lab work, therapy, nursing services, surgery, etc.)
- Lead-based paint removal (see Publication 502)
- Long-term care contracts, qualified (see Publication 502)
- Meals and lodging provided by a hospital during medical treatment
- Medical and hospital insurance premiums
- Medical services fees (from doctors, dentists, surgeons, specialists, and other medical practitioners)
- Medicare Part D premiums
- Oxygen equipment and oxygen
- Part of life-care fee paid to retirement home designated for medical care
- Prescription medicines (prescribed by a doctor) and insulin
- Psychiatric and psychological treatment
- Social security tax, Medicare tax, FUTA, and state employment tax for worker providing medical care (see Publication 502)
- Special items (artificial limbs, false teeth, eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, crutches, wheelchair, etc.)
- Special education for mentally or physically disabled persons (see Publication 502)
- Stop-smoking programs
- Transportation for needed medical care
- Treatment at a drug or alcohol center (includes meals and lodging provided by the center)
- Wages for nursing services (see Publication 502)
- Contributions to Archer MSAs (see Publication 969)
- Bottled water
- Diaper service
- Expenses for your general health (even if following your doctor's advice) such as:
—Health club dues
—Household help (even if recommended by a doctor)
—Social activities, such as dancing or swimming lessons
—Trip for general health improvement
- Flexible spending account reimbursements for medical expenses (if contributions were on a pretax basis) (see Publication 502)
- Funeral, burial, or cremation expenses
- Health savings account payments for medical expenses (see Publication 502)
- Illegal operation or treatment
- Life insurance or income protection policies, or policies providing payment for loss of life, limb, sight, etc.
- Medical insurance included in a car insurance policy covering all persons injured in or by your car
- Medicine you buy without a prescription
- Nursing care for a healthy baby
- Prescription drugs you brought in (or ordered shipped) from another country, in most cases (see Publication 502)
- Surgery for purely cosmetic reasons (see Publication 502)
- Toothpaste, toiletries, cosmetics, etc.
- Teeth whitening
- Weight-loss expenses not for the treatment of obesity or other disease
You can include in medical expenses insurance premiums you pay for policies that cover medical care. Policies can provide payment for:
- Hospitalization, surgical fees, X-rays, etc.,
- Prescription drugs,
- Replacement of lost or damaged contact lenses,
- Qualified long-term care insurance contracts (subject to the additional limits included in the discussion on qualified long-term care insurance contracts under Long-Term Care, earlier), or
- Membership in an association that gives cooperative or so-called "free-choice" medical service, or group hospitalization and clinical care.
If you have a policy that provides more than one kind of payment, you can include the premiums for the medical care part of the policy if the charge for the medical part is reasonable. The cost of the medical portion must be separately stated in the insurance contract or given to you in a separate statement.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043698
If you are covered under social security (or if you are a government employee who paid Medicare tax), you are enrolled in Medicare Part A. The payroll tax paid for Medicare Part A is not a medical expense. If you are not covered under social security (or were not a government employee who paid Medicare tax), you can enroll voluntarily in Medicare Part A. In this situation you can include the premiums you paid for Medicare Part A as a medical expense.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043699
Medicare Part B is a supplemental medical insurance. Premiums you pay for Medicare Part B are a medical expense. If you applied for it at age 65 or after you became disabled, you can include in medical expenses the monthly premiums you paid. If you were over age 65 or disabled when you first enrolled, check the information you received from the Social Security Administration to find out your premium.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043700
Medicare Part D is a voluntary prescription drug insurance program for persons with Medicare Part A or Part B. You can include as a medical expense premiums you pay for Medicare Part D.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043701
Insurance premiums you pay before you are age 65 for medical care for yourself, your spouse, or your dependents, after you reach age 65 are medical care expenses in the year paid if they are:
- Payable in equal yearly installments, or more often, and
- Payable for at least 10 years, or until you reach age 65 (but not for less than 5 years).
You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for prescribed medicines and drugs. A prescribed drug is one that requires a prescription by a doctor for its use by an individual. You can also include amounts you pay for insulin. Except for insulin, you cannot include in medical expenses amounts you pay for a drug that is not prescribed.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043703
If you imported medicines or drugs from other countries, see Medicines and Drugs From Other Countries, under What Expenses Are Not Includible, in Publication 502.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043704
You can include in medical expenses wages and other amounts you pay for nursing services. The services need not be performed by a nurse as long as the services are of a kind generally performed by a nurse. This includes services connected with caring for the patient's condition, such as giving medication or changing dressings, as well as bathing and grooming the patient. These services can be provided in your home or another care facility.
Generally, only the amount spent for nursing services is a medical expense. If the attendant also provides personal and household services, amounts paid to the attendant must be divided between the time spent performing household and personal services and the time spent for nursing services. However, certain maintenance or personal care services provided for qualified long-term care can be included in medical expenses. See Maintenance and personal care services under Qualified long-term care services, earlier. Additionally, certain expenses for household services or for the care of a qualifying individual incurred to allow you to work may qualify for the child and dependent care credit. See Child and Dependent Care Credit, later, and Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
You can also include in medical expenses part of the amount you pay for that attendant's meals. Divide the food expense among the household members to find the cost of the attendant's food. Then divide that cost in the same manner as in the preceding paragraph. If you had to pay additional amounts for household upkeep because of the attendant, you can include the extra amounts with your medical expenses. This includes extra rent or utilities you pay because you moved to a larger apartment to provide space for the attendant.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043705
You can include as a medical expense social security tax, FUTA, Medicare tax, and state employment taxes you pay for a nurse, attendant, or other person who provides medical care. If the attendant also provides personal and household services, you can include as a medical expense only the amount of employment taxes paid for medical services as explained earlier under Nursing Services. For information on employment tax responsibilities of household employers, see Publication 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043706
You can include in medical expenses amounts paid for transportation primarily for, and essential to, medical care.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043707
You can include out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of gas and oil, when you use a car for medical reasons. You cannot include depreciation, insurance, general repair, or maintenance expenses.
Instead of deducting the actual expenses, you can deduct the standard rate of 24 cents per mile for use of your car for medical reasons.
You can also include parking fees and tolls. You can add these fees and tolls to your medical expenses whether you use actual expenses or use the standard mileage rate.taxmap/pubs/p554-012.htm#en_us_publink100043708
- Bus, taxi, train, or plane fares or ambulance service, and
- Transportation expenses of a nurse or other person who can give injections, medications, or other treatment required by a patient who is traveling to get medical care and is unable to travel alone.
Do not include transportation expenses if, for purely personal reasons, you choose to travel to another city for an operation or other medical care prescribed by your doctor.