A trip to the dentist is painful enough, but as soon as you're out of the chair, the real pain sets in: that broken tooth that required the crown is going to cost you an arm and a leg. If you're lucky, you have dental insurance to pick up some of the tab. If you're one of the 130 million Americans who don't have any dental insurance, you may still see some relief in the form of a deduction come tax time.
With the exception of teeth whitening, all dental work, including crowns, fillings, cleaning, diagnostics or any other service performed to prevent or treat dental disease, is deductible. So is transportation to and from the dental office and parking or tolls. Save all of your receipts. You'll need them should the tax man come knocking sometime down the road.
Adjusted Gross Income Threshold
The Internal Revenue Service lets you deduct the cost of your dental or medical needs as long as your total expenses are more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. For example, if your crown cost $2,000, and your pain medication, parking and mileage -- at a rate of .23 per mile as of 2012 -- add up to $100, your total expenses for dental work are $2,100. If your adjusted gross income for the tax year was $25,000, your combined dental expenses must exceed $1,875, or 7.5 percent of your AGI, before you can deduct anything. With this scenario, you would be allowed to deduct $225 for dental work. Don't overlook the medical or dental expenses -- including premiums -- you pay for your qualifying significant other, family members or decedents; they all count toward your deductible.
Where to File
After you total your dental and medical bills for the year, you're ready to itemize your expenses. You must use Form 1040, Schedule A to claim your dental work. Enter the total expenses on Line 1, Schedule A, then enter your adjusted gross income on line 2. Multiply Line 2 by 7.5 percent, then subtract Line 3 from Line 1. This is your deduction. You must attach this schedule to your tax return.
If your dental work -- or any other medical needs -- is paid for by your insurance, you must subtract your reimbursement from your expenses. If you get the reimbursement in the year following the year you claimed the dental work, you must claim the reimbursement as income. Costs are usually deductible in the year you paid the dentist or the year you applied the charge to a credit card. The dental care doesn't have to be done in the United States to be deductible. However, any drugs you get related to that work must be legally approved before you can import them, much less claim them as an expense.
Elle Smith has been an advertising professional for more than 25 years. Her work for ABC, CBS and Sony Pictures Television has appeared on radio, on air, in print and outdoors. In addition, Smith has more than 20 years experience in marketing, graphic arts, commercial photography and print production, and is a licensed real estate agent with property management certification in California.