Are Hearing Aids a Deductible Income Tax Expense?

by Jeffrey Joyner

    Under Internal Revenue Service regulations, taxpayers can deduct a variety of medical expenses. The IRS includes hearing aids in the category of special items, which also includes contact lenses, dentures and prosthetic limbs, and allows taxpayers to deduct for them. Limits apply to deductions for medical expenses, but you might also be able to deduct expenses related to obtaining the hearing aid.

    In addition to the cost of the hearing aid, you can deduct for the physician’s visit and tests needed to obtain the device. Your transportation costs to the doctor’s office are deductible; if you hire a taxi, for example, you can deduct the fare. If you drive, you can claim the standard mileage rate, which the IRS changed to 23.5 cents per mile on July 1, 2011. Parking and tolls are also deductible if you must pay either of these expenses to reach your medical provider.

    If obtaining the tests or treatment you need to obtain your hearing aid requires you to be away from home overnight, you might be able to deduct the cost of your lodging and meals. You must meet four requirements to qualify: the travel is necessary for your medical care; the provider must be a licensed hospital or affiliated with such an institution; expenses are not lavish; and no significant personal pleasure, such as vacation, is related to the travel. The lodging deduction is limited to $50 per person per night; you can have one other person with you, making the maximum $100 per night.

    The deduction for medical expenses applies to costs you pay for yourself, your spouse and your dependents. If the expense is for your child, but you could not claim him as your dependent under the terms of your separation or divorce agreement, you can still deduct any medical expenses you pay for him. You can also deduct the medical expenses you paid for individuals you could have claimed as dependents had they not exceeded the $3,700 income limit or filed joint returns with their spouses. If you could be claimed as someone else’s dependent, you cannot claim any dependents of your own; if this is the only reason you could not claim another as a dependent, you can still deduct his medical expenses.

    To deduct your medical expenses, you must itemize. The deduction for dental and medical expenses is limited to the amount by which the expenses exceed a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income. As of the 2011 tax year, the limiting percentage was 7.5 percent. For example, if your AGI is $100,000, your total medical expenses must exceed $7,500 or you cannot claim any of them as a deduction. If they total $8,000, you may deduct $500. If you were reimbursed for the expense, you deductible amount is limited to the amount for which you did not receive reimbursement. You cannot deduct expenses you paid for with pre-tax dollars, such as a flexible spending arrangement.

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    About the Author

    Jeffrey Joyner has had numerous articles published on the Internet covering a wide range of topics. He studied electrical engineering after a tour of duty in the military, then became a freelance computer programmer for several years before settling on a career as a writer.

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