1997 Tax Help Archives  

Medical and Dental Expenses

This is archived information that pertains only to the 1997 Tax Year. If you
are looking for information for the current tax year, go to the Tax Prep Help Area.

If you itemize your deductions on Schedule A, Form 1040, you may be able to deduct medical and dental expenses for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents. Medical and dental expenses include payments for the diagnosis, cure, relief, treatment, or prevention of disease. Expenses may also include payments for treatments affecting any part or function of the body, but they must be primarily for the alleviation or prevention of a physical or mental defect or illness.

Medical expenses include fees paid to doctors, dentists, surgeons, chiropractors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and Christian Science practitioners. Also included are payments for hospital services, medical and hospital insurance premiums, nursing services, therapy treatments, laboratory fees, prescription medicines and drugs, and insulin. Payments for such things as acupuncture treatments or inpatient treatment at a center for alcohol or drug addiction are also deductible medical expenses.

The cost of things such as false teeth, eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, crutches, wheelchairs, and guide dogs for the blind or deaf are deductible medical expenses.

You may not deduct funeral or burial expenses, health club dues, programs to stop smoking or lose weight, over-the-counter medicines, toothpaste, toiletries, cosmetics, a trip or program for the general improvement of your health, or unnecessary cosmetic surgery.

Nursing home expenses are allowable as medical expenses in certain instances. If you, your spouse, or your dependent is in a nursing home or home for the aged, and the primary reason for being there is for medical care, the entire cost, including meals and lodging, is a medical expense. If the individual is in the home mainly for personal reasons, then only the cost of the actual medical care is a medical expense and the cost of meals and lodging is not deductible.

Transportation costs necessary for medical care qualify as medical expenses. The actual fare for a taxi, bus, train, or ambulance can be deducted. If you use your car for medical transportation, you can deduct actual out-of-pocket expenses such as gas and oil, or you can deduct the standard mileage rate of 10 cents a mile. With either method you may include tolls and parking fees.

You may include in medical expenses the cost of meals and lodging while at a hospital or similar institution if your main reason for being there is to receive medical care. Lodging, but not meal expenses, is deductible for a person for whom transportation expenses are deductible because that person is traveling with the person receiving the medical care, such as a parent traveling with a sick child. The amount you may deduct for lodging is limited to $50 per person per night.

You may deduct qualified medical expenses you pay for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents, including a person you claim as a dependent under a multiple support agreement. If either parent claims a child as a dependent under the rules for divorced or separated parents, each parent may deduct the medical expenses he or she actually pays for the child. You can also deduct medical expenses you paid for someone who would have qualified as your dependent except that the person didn't meet the gross income or joint return test.

Insurance premiums you pay to cover the costs of medical treatment qualify as medical expenses. Some examples of the types of insurance premiums that you may deduct are:

  1. Policies that cover doctors, hospitals, X-rays, laboratory fees, prescription drugs, or lost or damaged contact lenses,
  2. Membership in an association furnishing co-operative or group medical care,
  3. Premiums for Medicare B; and
  4. Premiums for Medicare A if you are not covered by social security, but choose to purchase this coverage.

You may not deduct insurance premiums for life insurance, for policies providing for loss of wages because of illness or injury, or policies that pay you a guaranteed amount each week for a sickness. In addition, only the part of your lifetime care policy properly allocable to medical care is a medical expense.

You may not deduct insurance premiums paid by an employer sponsored health insurance plan (cafeteria plan) unless the premiums are included in box 1 of your Form W-2.

You can include only the medical expenses paid during the year, regardless of when the services were provided. Your total medical expenses for the year must be reduced by any insurance reimbursement. It makes no difference if you receive the reimbursement or if it is paid directly to the doctor or hospital.

Your total medical expenses must be reduced by 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. You may claim the remainder as an itemized deduction.

If you are self-employed and have a net profit for the year, or if you are a partner in a partnership or a shareholder in an S corporation, you may be able to deduct, as an adjustment to income, 40% of the amount you pay for medical insurance for yourself and your spouse and dependents. You can include the remaining premiums with your other medical expenses as an itemized deduction. You cannot take the special 40% deduction for any month in which you are eligible to participate in any subsidized health plan maintained by your employer or your spouse's employer.

Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses, contains additional information and can be ordered by calling 1-800-829-3676.

Tax Topics & FAQs | Tax Help Archives | Home