Tax Deductible Medical Expenses for Qualifying Relatives

The cost of that CAT scan may become a tax deduction.

The cost of that CAT scan may become a tax deduction.

Paying hospital bills is no fun. Writing off the costs on your taxes can be. You can deduct your medical expenses as well as your dependents' -- both qualifying children and qualifying relatives. If you're reimbursed for any of the money you spend on your relatives, whether it's by an insurer or family members, reduce your deduction accordingly.


The Internal Revenue Service lets you deduct a wide range of expenses for yourself, your spouse and your dependents, including X-rays, oxygen, prescription drugs, hearing aids and long-term care. You can write off your relative's annual physical, even if he's in good health. If your relative needs treatment from an optometrist, a psychologist or a therapist, those services count along with treatment from MDs. You can also write off visits to less conventional medical professionals, such as acupuncturists, chiropractors, osteopaths and Christian Science practitioners.

Unusual Cases

The list of deductions includes items you might not think of as medical. If you buy a disabled dependent a car designed to hold a wheelchair, or with special hand controls to replace the pedals, the added cost of those features is a valid deduction. When you install wheelchair ramps at her front door, support bars in her bathroom or other modifications, those are write-offs too. The deduction for home improvements is the cost less any increase to the value of the property.


IRS Publication 502 includes a list of medical expenses you can't deduct. Cosmetic treatments such as plastic surgery or teeth whitening aren't allowed. Household services aren't covered even if a doctor recommends them: If you pay for a service that cooks, cleans and provides nursing care, only the nursing part qualifies. Illegal operations, treatments and drugs aren't deductible, even if you and your dependent believe they're necessary. Medical marijuana, for example, is illegal at the federal level so buying it even from a legal dispensary isn't deductible.


You have to itemize deductions on Schedule A to claim medical expenses for yourself, your spouse or your dependents. Calculate your adjusted gross income for the year and multiply it by 7.5 percent. Total your family medical expenses and subtract the 7.5 percent; whatever remains is deductible. If you make an AGI of $65,000 a year, for example, 7.5 percent is $4,875 (65,000x0.075). If your total medical bills are $6,200, your medical deduction is $1,325.

About the Author

A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.

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