Claiming Medical and Dental Expenses as Tax Deductions

If you paid for medical or dental expenses in 2018, you may be able to get tax deductions for costs not covered by insurance. But which expenses are tax deductible? And how can you claim medical expenses as tax deductions?

Let’s start with the basics.

What are tax deductions?

Tax deductions reduce your taxable income. They come in two forms, the standard deduction and itemized deductions.

The standard deduction is a set value which you qualify for based on your filing status.

Itemized deductions are a list of eligible expenses which can reduce your taxable income in lieu of the standard deduction. You should only itemize your deductions if your eligible expenses net to a larger figure than the standard deduction.

Should you claim medical and dental expenses?

In order to claim any expenses, you’ll need to itemize your deductions. But before you do so, you should make sure that itemizing your deductions will save you more than taking the standard deduction. View the table below to find out which standard deduction you qualify for:

Filing StatusStandard Deduction
Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)$24,000
Married Filing Separately$12,000
Head of Household$18,000

Next, add up at your dental, medical, and other tax-deductible expenses from the year. Subtract from this value 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (the threshold above which you can deduct medical expenses). Is the result a higher value than the standard deduction? If so, you should definitely itemize your deductions this year.

Which expenses can you claim?

So you’ve decided to itemize your deductions! Your next step is to determine which expenses you can claim.

In order to claim an expense, you must have records of it. As such, be sure to keep rigorous records of medical and dental costs. Anything that you paid for in 2018 is eligible, even if you received the services in a previous year.

Most medical and dental costs qualify as tax deductions, including those you paid for your spouse or your dependents. You can claim the costs of diagnosing, treating, easing, or preventing disease, as well as the costs of prescription drugs and insulin. Medical, dental, and some long-term care insurance costs also qualify.

In addition, you may be able to claim the cost of travel to obtain medical care. That includes the cost of public transportation or an ambulance, as well as tolls and parking fees. If you used your car to travel to a medical appointment, you can deduct the standard mileage rate for medical travel — 54.5 cents per mile in 2018.

Are there any limits on medical and dental deductions?

Yes, there are limits on medical and dental deductions. You can only make this deduction if your total medical and dental expenses add up to more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. And you can only deduct the amount of your expenses that exceed that percentage.

In addition, not all medical expenses are deductible. Over-the-counter treatments, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and first aid supplies like bandaids typically don’t qualify as deductible expenses. Likewise, many elective surgeries do not qualify.

Also, funds from Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Arrangements used to pay for medical or dental costs are already not taxable. As such, you cannot deduct these expenses again.

How do you claim medical expenses as tax deductions?

If you’re going to claim medical expenses as tax deductions, you’ll have to itemize your deductions. That means filling out Form 1040 (in lieu of the more streamlined Form 1040-EZ) with your tax return.

And remember, don’t claim any expenses that you can’t prove with documentation. In the case of an audit, you should have evidence of all of your tax deductions.

Ready to get started?

For more information, check out IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.

Are you gearing up to itemize your deductions? Keeping tabs on all your deductible expenses can be exhausting. If you need help, consider enlisting a tax preparation company to streamline your tax season. SuperMoney has compiled a list of the top contenders on the market. Click here to compare tax preparation solutions and find the perfect one for your budget!