By Matt Cavallo:
The change of the season can only mean one thing: taxes! I can’t turn on my TV or radio right now without hearing an advertisement for tax preparation. Whether you prepare your own taxes or use a tax preparation service, one of the most overlooked areas for tax deductions are medical expenses. In this blog, I will provide a list of deductions that you may have overlooked in previous years.
As a person living with multiple sclerosis, your out-of-pocket medical expenses can be extremely high in any given year. You probably know that your out-of-pocket medical expenses are deductible, but do you know what is considered a medical expense? For example, did you know that the mileage for all the trips you made back and forth to the neurologist, MRI scan or other doctor appointments are tax deductible? If you did not record the mileage during the appointments, don’t worry. Your explanation of benefits from your insurance company will list of all the appointments that you would have traveled for. You can then calculate the mileage to and from your appointment online at Google or Mapquest, and then add up total mileage for all of your doctor visits and you’ll get your deduction amount.
This is just one example of many tax deductions that people living with MS miss every year. Other items that you can write off as a tax deduction include items that insurance may not cover, such as acupuncture and chiropractic care; medical equipment; medications; and smoking cessation programs. There are also health expenses that may not be deducted. Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Medical Savings Accounts (MSA) are all bought with pretax dollars, so your contributions cannot be tax deductible. Also non-prescription medications, medications from other countries and nutritional supplements cannot be deducted.
There are certain items that can be viewed as either deducible or not deductible. While you cannot write off visits that insurance did pay for, did you know that you can write off your self-funded medical insurance premium as a tax deduction? For example, if you pay $400 per month for medical insurance, then that is an additional $4,800 for the year that can go towards your itemized deductions! However, while insurance paid for medical care can be deducted, you cannot write off any premium for extra insurance like life, supplemental or employer-sponsored program paid with pre-tax dollars. Also gym memberships may be a write off – if the doctor writes a letter of medical necessity stating that you need the membership for health reasons, but a gym membership for personal fitness or stress reduction is not considered a write-off.
Life with MS can be expensive. Make sure that you take advantage of tax deductions for all expenses related to your illness. Please note that I am not a tax expert and these tips are to be used for informational purposes only. Before filling out your medical deductions, please read about all of the deductions that are acceptable and not acceptable located in form IRS Publication 502 – Medical and Dental Expenses. IRS Publication 502 breaks down all of the items that may or may not be deducted. Start spring out right and maximize those healthcare deductions!
*Matt Cavallo was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005. Matt is an MS blogger, author, patient advocate, and motivational speaker. Matt also has his Master’s degree in Public Health Administration. Matt is the proud father of his two sons, loving husband to his wife, Jocelyn, and best friend to his dog, Teddy. Originally from the Boston suburbs, Matt currently resides in Arizona with his family. To learn more about Matt, please visit him at : http://mattcavallo.com/blog/
Matt, I was diagnosed with MS in 2014. I found that the only exercise I can do is swimming and it helps. So, this year, I purchased a pool. My neurologist had told me earlier swimming would be good. However, during my follow up this year with her when I asked if she could write out a prescription that stated swimming would be good exercise, she refused. Is there any other legit way I can claim the med exp of this pool? I’m 63 and use it a majority of the time 95% alone swimming. Please advise and thank you
Hi Jeanie, thank you for reaching out with your question. I’m sorry that your doctor did not provide the documentation you asked of regarding swimming and its exercise benefits, do you have another provider on your medical team from whom you can ask this information? You can try to submit information yourself, aquatic exercise can have positive impacts for MS symptom management, you can find information regarding aquatics and MS on our website here, https://aquatics.mymsaa.org/. You can also consult with an accountant or the IRS directly to see how this could be claimed as a medical expense if possible and what exact documentation would be needed. I hope you’re able to receive additional help and consultation for this soon Jeanie, and if you have additional questions we can try to help with please email: MSQuestions@mymsaa.org. Thank you and take care. Angel, MSAA Client Services Specialist