Getting braces or other dental work done isn't fun, but the resulting tax deduction on your taxes could be. Qualifying dental work is written off as part of the medical expenses deduction. Knowing what dental expenses qualify and what year to take the deduction can help ease some of the pain you feel in the chair.
Qualifying Dental Work
Dental work has to be for the prevention or treatment of a disease or condition in order to be eligible for the medical expenses deduction. Examples of qualifying treatment include teeth cleaning, sealant, X-rays, fillings, braces and dentures. However, any purely cosmetic treatments, such as teeth whitening, cannot be included as part of your dental costs. In addition, you cannot include any costs you are reimbursed for, even if you originally paid out of pocket.
Dental Expenses Must Exceed AGI Floor
The higher your income, the less likely you are to be able to include medical expenses as a deduction on your taxes. Your medical expenses must exceed a certain floor before you can start deducting them. For the 2012 tax year, the floor is 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, but it increases to 10 percent in 2013. For example, if you pay for $6,000 of dental work in 2013 and have an AGI of $35,000, you could deduct only $2,500 of the expenses because the first 10% of your AGI -- or $3,500 -- is not deductible. However, if your AGI were $60,000 or more, you couldn't deduct any of it because it doesn't exceed 10 percent of your AGI. If you have other eligible medical expenses in a year, you can add these to your dental expenses to help you reach the threshold for the deduction.
You're limited to deducting the expenses that you paid during the calendar year, not the expenses that you incurred during the year. For example, if you are going to have dental work starting in November 2013 and ending in March 2014, if you pay for it all in 2013, you can include the entire amount on your 2013 tax return. Similarly, if you pay for it all in 2014, the entire deduction applies to your 2014 return. Therefore, if you have flexibility in when you pay, try to lump all of your expenses in the same calendar year. If you will have other medical expenses in a particular year, it may make sense to pay for your dental in that year as well.
Tax Reporting Requirements for Dental Work
The medical expenses deduction is an itemized deduction, which means you can't claim your dental work costs unless you itemize. To itemize, you have to use Form 1040 and list your itemized deductions, including dental work, on Schedule A. Lines 1 through 3 of Schedule A walk you through the calculation of your dental work costs in excess of the AGI floor so that you can report your deduction amount on line 4. Once your dental work deduction is added to your other itemized deductions, you copy the total back to Form 1040, line 40.
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