Medical expenses can take a big bite out of your finances. In addition to doctor and pharmacy bills, there’s the cost of getting to and from those appointments. The IRS allows you to take a deduction for medical-related mileage, if you meet certain requirements. The deduction probably won’t make up for high gas prices or all the time you spent waiting in doctor’s office, but it will lower your taxes a little and maybe make those trips a little less painful to your pocketbook.
Medical Expense Deduction
You can deduct medical mileage as part of your overall medical expense deduction. The IRS limits the medical deduction to the amount of medical expenses in excess of 7.5 percent of your Adjusted Gross Income. You can deduct your out-of-pocket costs for doctor’s visits, prescriptions, eyeglasses, dental bills, medical equipment and other medical expenses, including mileage for trips to doctor’s offices, hospitals, therapists and pharmacies.
You’ll need to keep records to support your mileage deductions. The simplest way to do this is to keep a log or notebook in your car and write down the date, beginning and ending mileage, and purpose of the trip each time you drive to a doctor’s appointment, to a pharmacy to pick up a prescription, or anywhere for medical treatment. Also keep receipts for tolls or parking fees, as these are also deductible.
Figuring Your Deduction
The IRS sets a mileage rate for medical deductions that can change from year to year and during the year. For 2011, the rate was 19 cents a mile for trips between Jan. 1 and June 30, and 23.5 cents per mile from trips made between July 1 and Dec. 31. Add up your mileage and multiply the appropriate mileage rate to determine your mileage deduction. If you also deduct mileage for business use of a car, but you need to note that the medical mileage rate is different from the business mileage rate.
Instead of figuring your mileage deduction, you may deduct the actual costs you incurred in traveling to and from your medical appointments. You can deduct the cost of gas and oil for the trips you made. This requires keeping careful records of how much gas you actually used for the medical trips alone. Whether you deduct your actual costs or the mileage, you can still deduct the actual cost of tolls and parking. You can’t deduct the costs of driving to and from work, or mileage for trips that aren’t specifically for medical treatment.
Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.