Watch Your Wallet! Medical Deductions (Part 2 of 2)
Watch your wallet, more medical deductions
In our last article we provided some ways in which you can make medical bills, nursing home care, and special needs or age related home additions and modifications work for you to save money on taxes. If you are a caregiver for your parents or other elderly relatives, you could save money on your own taxes as well. Here are some more ideas for tax deductions, including alternative medicine, and services for special needs care. We shall explore timing your expenses for maximum deductions as well as other entities like a special needs trust.
Alternative medicine and services
If you think “medical care” for IRS means only traditional medical care that is dispensed by MD doctors, nurses and traditional prescriptive medicine, think again, because the IRS will allow most treatments that bring you relief. In their words “any legal treatment that alleviates or prevents a physical or mental disability or illness” may be categorized as medical expenses. These may include treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, ayurveda, christian science practitioners, and other branches of medicine that may not be typically covered by insurance.
In addition to items like false teeth, eyeglasses, wheelchairs and hearing aids, other devices like breast-pumps, lactation supplies, wigs (after chemotherapy), crutches, braille books and magazines, are also deductible. Services like recovery from addiction, cost of service animals including grooming and training, and certain home aides and nursing care are deductible as well. So are doctor recommended weight loss programs. If in doubt on the deductibility of your medical and health related costs, just ask. There is a good chance that it can be deductible and save you money.
Timing your expenses, creating a trust
While the IRS allows you a wide variety of medical expense deductions, these can only help you if you are itemizing your deductions and if the total medical costs exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. What if you do spend a fair amount on medical care but they do not exceed the threshold of adjusted gross income? In addition, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed in Dec 2017 has increased the standard deduction. For married couples over 65 the standard deduction is $26,600. So, while the deductions may be available, your ability to actually avail of them may be limited unless you are spending a significant amount in one year. You may have to time your expenses so that you are able to deduct two years’ worth of expenses in one year, or if you are ailing or have special needs, consider an entity like a Special Needs Trust.
Do you need a Special Needs Trust?
If you are living with a family member with special needs, or a chronically ill individual, you may consider forming a Special Needs Trust. While putting money in this type of vehicle can assist you in claiming government aid for your family member, you may also be able to invest the money in the trust to generate some income and pay for some extra services. Most services that can be deducted on your tax return can be deducted from the Special Needs Trust income as well. Creating this type of trust may allow you to use the income generated to pay for care and services for a loved one, so that you preserve your assets, pay for a better quality of life, and pay no taxes. If you are interested in creating a Special Needs Trust, watch this space as we shall bring you more information on what can and cannot be deducted from a Special Needs Trust and what to expect in terms of taxes.