Can Counseling Be Deducted as a Medical Expense?

Counseling for mental illness is tax deductible.

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Getting counseling as prescribed for a mental health or behavioral issue can be just as important as being treated for physical ailments. Like many types of healthcare, counseling and other mental health treatment that meets certain requirements can be deducted as a medical expense from your income tax.

Definition of Eligible Medical Expenses

In the IRS Publication 502, which defines which medical expenses are eligible for deduction on a personal income tax return, medical care expenses are defined as expenses that alleviate or prevent a physical or mental illness or disability. These expenses may include services rendered by medical professionals, the cost of medical supplies and hospitalization costs.

Types of Eligible Mental Health Treatments

The IRS allows you to deduct medical expenses associated with psychiatric care, including psychoanalysis. You also can deduct expenses related to treatment by a psychologist. Some of the mental health and counseling services that are deductible include alcoholism and drug addiction treatment and smoking cessation programs. Treatment that doesn’t alleviate or prevent a specific condition, but is instead aimed at your general mental health, is not eligible.

Deductions for Related Transportation Costs

In addition to deducting amounts paid to medical providers and healthcare facilities, you can deduct transportation costs related to treatment. This includes fares for public transit, taxi or the cost of ambulance service if required. If you use your personal car, you can deduct the operating costs such as gas and oil. For 2018, the allowable car deduction is 18 cents per mile. When a parent or nurse is need to accompany the person who is receiving treatment, those transportation costs may also be deductible.

How Much Can You Deduct for Medical Expenses?

When you file Schedule A (Form 1040) with your federal income taxes, you can deduct medical and dental expenses in excess of 7.5 percent of your adjust gross income. For example, if you had an adjusted gross income of $50,000 and had eligible medical expenses of $6,000, you are allowed to deduct $2,250, which is the remainder when 7.5 percent of $50,000 (or $3750) is subtracted from $6,000. This is a new threshold for 2017 and 2018, adjusted down from its previous value of 10 percent by the Tax Reform Act of 2017. After 2018, the threshold is again expected to return to 10 percent. Your deduction may include the cost of counseling that you pay for yourself, your spouse or your dependents.

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About the Author

Catie Watson is a writer and software engineer who covers culture, technology and education. Her work has been featured on numerous websites and in national magazines.


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