How to Deduct Medical Expenses When Filing Jointly

Doctor's appointments typically qualify for the medical expenses deduction.

Doctor's appointments typically qualify for the medical expenses deduction.

The Internal Revenue Service allows you to take a tax deduction for a portion of your medical and dental expenses. When you file jointly as a married couple, that doubles your opportunity for deductions. But there's a big catch: The amount you can deduct is determined by your income -- the more you make, the less you can deduct. So if you both work, that raises the bar to qualify for a sizable medical deduction. Regardless, to deduct your medical expenses, you must itemize your tax deductions, which means filling out Form 1040 and Schedule A.

Fill out the first portion of Form 1040, the standard U.S. individual income tax return, to determine combined federal adjusted gross income for you and your spouse.

Gather all records of medical and dental expenses that you and your spouse paid for yourselves, as well as for anyone whom you are claiming as a dependent on your tax return.

Add up your total out-of-pocket expenses.

Subtract any reimbursements you have received, such as from an employer.

Enter the result on Line 1 of Schedule A, in the section labeled "Medical and Dental Expenses."

Enter your federal adjusted gross income on Line 2 of Schedule A.

Mulitply Line 2 by 0.075, and enter the result on Line 3.

Subtract Line 3 from Line 1 and enter the result on Line 4. This is your allowable deduction for medical and dental expenses. If the result is negative -- that is, if Line 3 is larger than Line 1 -- enter "0."

Complete the rest of Schedule A and continue filling out your return.


  • IRS Publication 502, "Medical and Dental Expenses," provides an extensive list of which expenses are deductible and which are not. Health club fees and non-prescription drugs, for example, are not deductible. Acupuncture is deductible; most cosmetic surgery is not.
  • Health insurance premiums that you pay out of pocket with "after-tax dollars" are deductible. However, if your employer withholds premiums from your paycheck, those premiums have already been deducted from your taxable income, so you cannot deduct them on your tax return.
  • If either you or your spouse has large medical bills but a relatively small individual income, you may be able to save money by filing separate returns. Consult a professional tax adviser.


  • You can deduct only those medical expenses that you and your spouse paid. Expenses paid by someone else are not deductible, even if you were the recipient of the services.

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About the Author

Cam Merritt is a writer and editor specializing in business, personal finance and home design. He has contributed to USA Today, The Des Moines Register and Better Homes and Gardens"publications. Merritt has a journalism degree from Drake University and is pursuing an MBA from the University of Iowa.

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