Tax Tips: Health Care You Can't Deduct

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I have talked about some of the items that can be claimed as medical deductions on your Form 1040. The following items are not deductible as a medical expense:

  • Babysitting and child care.
  • Body piercing.
  • Bottled water.
  • Diaper service (unless needed to relieve the effects of a particular disease).
  • Disability income and accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy premiums.
  • Funeral, burial or cremation expenses.
  • Health club dues or an exercise program undertaken to improve one’s general health, even if recommended by a doctor; the program must be prescribed by a doctor to treat a specific medical condition.
  • Maternity clothes.
  • Nutritional supplements and vitamins (unless prescribed for a specific medical condition).
  • Non-prescription over-the-counter medicines and drugs (although allowed under a medical FSA – see yesterday’s column).
  • Nursing services for a normal, healthy baby.
  • Personal and household services (unless they qualify as long-term care expenses).
  • Premiums for an insurance policy that provides guaranteed payments for days in the hospital.
  • Surgery for purely cosmetic reasons.
  • Teeth whitening, even when performed by a dentist.
  • Toothpaste, toiletries and cosmetics.
  • Travel for general health improvement.

A final word on medical expenses. Because of the 7.5% of AGI exclusion, you may not have enough to get a federal tax benefit, but check your state tax return.  In New Jersey taxpayers can deduct medical expenses to the extent they exceed 2% of NJ Gross Income.

New Jersey tax pro Robert D. Flach has been preparing 1040s for individuals since 1972.

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