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01.02.19

Deduction for medical and dental expenses modified in 2018

With an aging population in the United States, the medical and dental expense income tax deduction may be available to many taxpayers. Understanding when and what can be deducted is important.

Will you itemize your deductions in 2018?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, significantly increased the standard deduction. For tax year 2018, the standard deduction amounts are $24,000 for married couples filing jointly and surviving spouses, $12,000 for single and $18,000 for head of household filers. Therefore, it is important for a taxpayer to run the numbers to determine if a standard deduction or an itemize deduction is more advantageous.

In order to benefit from itemizing, the taxpayer’s total itemize deductions need to be greater than the standard deduction amount. If the taxpayer’s total allowable medical and dental expenses (as detailed below) along with the taxpayer’s mortgage interest, charity and state, local and property taxes are greater than the standard deduction for the taxpayer’s filing status, then the taxpayer will want to opt for itemizing deductions.

What medical and dental expenses are eligible?

Taxpayers should carefully review their checkbook ledger, credit card statements and other payment methods thoroughly for deductible medical and dental expense. These are costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body, including:

          • Out-of-pocket costs (including co-pays) not covered by insurance to medical professionals or medical facilities. Examples of these types of expenses are laser eye surgery, a weight loss program as treatment for a disease diagnosed by a physician (obesity, hypertension or heart disease), nursing services and treatment, meals and lodging at a therapeutic center for alcohol or drug addiction.
          • Copays for prescription drugs.
          • Insurance premiums paid with after tax dollars for Medicare Parts B and D, Medigap, Medicare advantage or long-term care.
          • Transportation costs to and from medical appointments.
          • Modifications to your home for medical reasons.
          • Payments for dentures, glasses, hearing aids, walkers, wheelchairs or other medical equipment.

What medical expenses are NOT eligible?

The following medical expenses are not eligible for itemization:

          • Cosmetic surgery not considered necessary such as facelifts, hair transplants or liposuction.
          • Health club dues for general health and well-being.
          • Vitamins and nutritional supplements unless recommended by a medical professional as treatment for a physician-diagnosed medical condition.

Whose medical expenses can you deduct on your return?

In general, you can deduct medical expenses paid for yourself, your spouse and any person who qualifies as your dependent (for claiming the dependent exemption). However, there are a few exceptions. Taxpayers can still deduct medical expenses for individuals who don’t qualify as their dependent. Examples are a parent for whom the taxpayer provides over half the support but the parent’s gross income exceeds $4,050 or medical expenses for a married child who doesn’t qualify as a dependent of the taxpayer because she/he files a joint return.

When can medical and dental expenses be deducted in 2018?

If the total of a taxpayer’s medical and dental expenses is greater than 7.5 percent of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income, then the expenses can be taken as a deduction.

What changes are on the horizon for 2019 for the medical and dental expense deduction?

In 2019, the threshold for medical and dental expenses increases from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income.