That achy back may turn into a headache if you try to deduct massage expenses on your taxes without proper substantiation or the right circumstances. In general, it may be difficult to claim massages on your taxes, but if you meet certain requirements, then you may qualify for the deduction.
Medical Expense Deduction
You may take a deduction for certain medical and dental expenses incurred during the taxable year. You claim these deductions on Schedule A of the Form 1040; however, the aggregate amount of your medical and dental expenses must exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. If your expenses do not exceed that amount, you may not take a medical expense deduction.
Basic Tax Requirements
The IRS defines medical expenses as the costs that are associated with the "diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body." Whether a massage will count as a medical expense depends largely in part on your medical situation as the IRS does not specifically include massages in its list of medical expenses.
When Would a Massage Constitute a Medical Expense?
Since a medical expense is expected to primarily alleviate or prevent a physical defect or illness, if your doctor prescribed massage as a form of physical therapy, that prescription would certainly assist in making the argument that massage is a medical expense. It may be more believable that a massage is a medical expense if your massages are given at a medical professional's office, rather than a spa or massage business. If the IRS can prove that your massage is just beneficial to your health, like a vitamin, then the massage would not constitute a medical expense.
You should keep all receipts from your massages and any prescriptions or doctor's records that indicate massage is a necessary part of your therapy, rehabilitation or program. In general, you should keep your tax records for at least seven years after your taxes are filed as all periods of limitations will have run out by the end of that period.