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Federal Income Tax Medical Expense Deductions

Income Tax Deductions, Smoking Cessation Programs, Tax Documents

Each year, especially around April 15th, millions of Americans begin to gather receipts and documents to support the various federal income tax deductions. Of the tax documents and deductions, claiming medical related expenses is often the most challenging for income tax filers. Understanding the full spectrum of items which can be deducted will provide for the most optimal outcome with federal income tax filing.

Medical expense deductions are varied. While most income tax filers understand physician office visits, diagnostic studies, surgery and chiropractic services are covered deductions, many do not understand the full spectrum of deductible services. As a result, many income tax filers miss crucial opportunities to obtain full tax benefits with medical expenses deductions.

On such medical expense deduction commonly missed when filing income tax forms, is the medical deduction representing the cost associated with a smoking cessation program. The only caveat to this deduction is the requirements that a physician must prescribe the smoking cessation program. Over the counter nicotine patches and gum, which do not require prescription by a physician, are not deductible.

In addition to smoking cessation programs, weight loss programs, when prescribed by a licensed physician, are also considered qualified medical expense deductions. Such weight loss programs might include membership in Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. Beyond weight loss programs, medical services varying from the purchase of contact lenses to use of assistive living devices are also deductible.

Another qualified medical expense which is not commonly deducted is the cost associated with travel, lodging and meals which hospitalized or receiving medical care. For these medical expenses, the services must be directly incurred by the patient and not reimbursed by any insurance plan.

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What is not a classified medical deductible are items which may improve health but are not considered medically necessary for the treatment of a health related condition. All too often, unfortunately, many Americans attempt to write off items from diapers to dancing lessons as tax deductible expenses only to find the expense did not qualify.

To ensure all qualified medical expenses are deducted, obtain a shoebox and label the box as medical expenses. Throughout the year, even if unsure as to the qualification of the expense, place the receipt or document of the purchase in the shoe box for review at the end of the calendar year. When unsure if the expense qualifies as part of the medical expense deductions, contact the Internal Revenue Service.