Living with a disability requires making adjustments to your environment. From specialized equipment to additional medical care, coping with a disability can get expensive. The IRS recognizes this and lets you deduct from your income taxes some of the extra costs associated with being disabled. To take advantage of any of these deductions, you must itemize on Schedule A.
If you modify your home to widen doorways, install a wheelchair ramp, add a handi-cap accessible bathroom, or otherwise make changes to accommodate your disability, you can deduct part of the cost of these improvements from your taxes. The IRS classifies such improvements under medical deductions, so they’re subject to the 7.5 percent limit, meaning you can only deduct the amount by which they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. Even then, you can’t deduct the entire amount, but only the amount in excess of the value the changes add to your home. So if you install a second bathroom on your home’s ground floor, you can only deduct the cost over and above the additional value the bathroom adds to your home. You might need a professional appraisal to determine how much value, if any, handicap accommodations add to your home.
If you pay to equip your car with a wheelchair lift or hand controls, the cost of installing these modifications can be part of your medical expenses deductions. As with home improvement costs, you can only deduct the amounts that are more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.
Other Medical Expenses
If you pay for a guide dog, a wheelchair or an artificial limp, these are medical expenses related to your disability and you can deduct them as part of your medical expenses. Deduct only those expenses that aren’t covered by insurance, or for which you aren’t otherwise reimbursed. As with all medical expenses deductions, you can only deduct amounts in excess of 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.
Expenses you incur to adapt your workspace for your disability are deductible as employee business expenses. For instance, if you’re blind and you subscribe to Braille versions of law journals, these are deductible. If you purchase a special chair or special computer equipment and your employer doesn’t reimburse you for these expenses, you can deduct them. All of these work-related expenses fall under Miscellaneous Deductions and are subject to the 2 percent rule. You can only deduct amounts that are over 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.
Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.