Do I Get an Extra Deduction for a Disabled Spouse?

A taxpayer with a disabled spouse often incurs expenses that other taxpayers do not, such as high medical bills or home care costs. To compensate for these expenses, the Internal Revenue Service offers certain tax breaks to taxpayers with disabled family members. These tax breaks include both credits and deductions.

Exemptions

The IRS allows all taxpayers to claim an exemption for themselves and, if filing jointly, for a spouse.

Deductions

If you take the standard deduction instead of itemizing and your spouse is legally blind, you may qualify for an extra $1,150 in your standard deduction amount. If you itemize, you may qualify for other deductions because of your disabled spouse, such as the deduction for medical and dental care expenses. To qualify for this deduction, your expenses must be higher than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (rising to 10 percent in 2013 for those under age 65). If your expenses exceed this amount, you can deduct the full amount of the excess from your taxable income.

Credits

If your spouse is disabled and you file jointly, you may qualify for the Credit for the Disabled. You may be able to claim this credit if your spouse is retired due to total disability and is receiving taxable disability income. If you qualify for the credit, you can subtract up to $5,000 from your owed tax. If you pay someone to care for your disabled spouse while you work, you may also be able to claim the child and dependent care credit. You can qualify for this credit if your spouse was mentally or physically unable to care for herself and lived with you for at least half the year.

Considerations

If you plan to deduct medical and dental care expenses, you can claim only those expenses that you paid to prevent or treat illness. Unnecessary expenses, such as the cost of vitamins, are not deductible. You can claim the Credit for the Disabled only if your adjusted gross income doesn't exceed $20,000 or your nontaxable Social Security or disability income is less than $5,000.

About the Author

Amanda McMullen is a freelancer who has been writing professionally since 2010. She holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and statistics and a second bachelor's degree in integrated mathematics education.

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