Medical expenses can add up quickly if you become seriously ill. Luckily, the federal government allows you to deduct the cost of your medical expenses when you itemize your deductions. Otherwise, you can take the standard deduction that covers all of your deductions including your medical expenses. You just need to figure out which method provides you with the greatest tax savings.
The standard deduction is the simplest way to deduct medical costs from your taxes. Rather than totaling all of your allowable deductions, you can simply subtract the standard deduction from your adjusted gross income. In 2010, the standard deductions were $5,700 for single taxpayers, $11,400 for married couples and $8,400 for head of household taxpayers. In certain situations, you can take an even higher standard deduction. Single or head of household taxpayers can take an addition $1,400 if they are over 65 years old or blind ($2,800 if they are both). Married couples, widows and widowers can take an additional $1,100 to $4,400 deduction depending on which disability the couples have and whether each has it.
Itemizing Medical Deductions
When itemizing your medical deductions, total all your allowable medical deductions for you, your spouse and your dependents. Tally up the costs of premiums and co-pays for medical and dental treatments that are paid with post-tax income. Add in little-known items like travel expenses to and from medical treatments, insurance payments using post-tax income, long-term care insurance, uninsured medical treatments, laser correction surgery, wheelchairs, crutches, medical equipment and costs to make your home handicapped accessible. Weight-loss programs, alcohol abuse programs and smoking cessations programs may also be deductible.
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Calculating the Deduction
You can deduct any of your medical expenses above 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. Multiply the adjusted gross income from your taxes by 0.075. Then subtract this amount from the total of your medical expenses. If you have an answer that is a positive number, you can deduct this amount. If it is a negative number, then you didn't have enough in medical expenses to take a deduction.
Deciding Which One
When deciding which deduction to take, work up your taxes both ways. However, when comparing your standard deduction to your itemized deduction, calculate all your allowable costs when itemizing your deductions on Schedule A. This includes things like real estate taxes, state and local taxes, charitable donations and a host of miscellaneous deductions. If your standard deduction is greater than the total of your allowable itemized deductions, take the standard deduction.