Tummy tucks are relatively expensive, with many costing well over $10,000. The Internal Revenue Service allows you to write off medical expenses along with your other itemized deductions on Schedule A. While the IRS generally bans deductions for cosmetic procedures, there are some ways that you may still be able to write off your abdominoplasty.
IRS Rules on Cosmetic Surgery
IRS rules on cosmetic surgery are clear. Any medical expenses that you incur for "unnecessary cosmetic surgery" are not deductible. The IRS allows you to write off medical expenses that are related to procedures that cure a condition or disease, treat or restore your body, or improve your general health. For example, the IRS would allow you to deduct the cost of breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy because the procedure restores the body to its pre-cancer state.
Functional Tummy Tucks
Those who undergo bariatric surgery resulting in high weight loss can end up with so much skin that they become prone to rashes and fungal infections in the folds due to excessive perspiration. In such cases, a tummy tuck becomes a necessary treatment to deal with the medical condition. If you are considering a tummy tuck to resolve symptoms tied to excess skin, talk to your surgeon and to a tax adviser to see if your surgery could be considered necessary rather than cosmetic.
The "Chesty Love" Decision
The U.S. Tax Court has established a precedent for allowing cosmetic surgery deductions as business expenses when the cosmetic surgery is necessary for business purposes. An exotic dancer with the stage name of "Chesty Love" attempted to claim her breast implants as a necessary business expense. The IRS disagreed, but the Tax Court ruled in her favor, claiming that the implants were the equivalent of stage props. You could theoretically use this decision to support a business expense claim for a tummy tuck if your stomach's appearance is necessary for your business. Before adopting this strategy, discuss it carefully with a tax attorney.
AGI and AMT Concerns
There are two other factors that could prevent you from deducting your tummy tuck as a medical expense. As of tax year 2013, the IRS allows you to write off only those medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. In other words, if your AGI is $100,000, and your tummy tuck cost $11,500, you'd only be able to write off $1,500 of the cost.
If you are subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax, you lose the ability to claim a deduction for medical expenses. This would render a medically necessary tummy tuck not tax-deductible.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.