For many taxpayers, medical care is one of the largest expenses incurred during the year. For this reason, the Internal Revenue Service allows taxpayers to deduct certain medical costs from their taxable income. If you qualify for this tax break, you can deduct the expenses you pay for yourself, your spouse or a dependent, such as a qualifying relative.
According to the IRS, a qualifying relative may be your child, stepchild, sibling, parent or step sibling. A qualifying relative may also be the ancestor or descendant of one of these people, or he may be any other person who lived with you for more than half the year in a relationship that wasn't against any local laws. The IRS won't consider an individual to be your qualifying relative unless you provided at least half of the person's financial support during the year.
Medical expenses you paid for a qualifying relative are deductible if you paid them to prevent or treat a medical or dental problem. You can include all expenses that you actually paid during the year, even if your relative received the care during a different tax year. You can also include the premiums you pay for your qualifying relative's medical insurance, as well as any expenses you paid for transportation to and from medical appointments.
Claiming the Deduction
To calculate your deduction, combine your qualifying relative's medical expenses with any other deductible medical expenses you have for the year. Your total medical and dental expenses deduction is equal to the portion of your deductible expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. This threshold rises to 10 percent in the 2013 tax year except for those over 65, who retain the 7.5 percent level until 2016. Report your deduction on Schedule A of Form 1040. You cannot claim deductible medical expenses against your taxable income unless you itemize your deductions.
The IRS doesn't limit the number of qualifying relatives for whom you can claim medical expenses. Although you can deduct only those expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, the IRS doesn't impose an upper limit on your deduction. In addition to expenses paid for a qualifying relative, you can also deduct expenses you paid during the year for yourself, your spouse and any qualifying children.
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.