And you thought it was just the IRS
Congratulations NY Giants

Maximize your medical deductions

Officially, Tom Brady's tender ankle was left of the Patriots' injury report. But speculation is still rampant as to whether it will have any effect on the game. And you can bet that tacklers will probably be aiming a bit low. Hey, it's a tough game.

The NFL says it compiles its injury reports so that everyone, fans and teams alike, have all the information they need to, respectively, enjoy and play the game.

Reality check. Who really cares about player injuries? Gamblers. And today is their big day. A star player's inability to perform his best certainly would make me hedge my bets if I were a gambling kind of gal.

But if the NFL says it just wants its sport to be more transparent, I say whatever. You're transparent, alright. We can see right trough your implicit assistance to bettors.

Let's get real. A good amount of attention, which translates to critical TV ratings, which then mean bigger contracts from the networks, comes from folks with a little (or lot of) dough riding on the games.

And on this big game in particular. So anything that ramps up that attention and gets more eyes on the screens is not a bad thing in pro football's eyes.

How are you feeling? Fans of both the Giants and Patriots might be a little hypertensive today. And a few, especially those who celebrate (or drown their sorrows) a bit too heartily will not feel very well come tomorrow.

Tax_tip_icon_3 Which brings me to today's tax tip: Maximizing your medical deductions.

The tax code offers several tax breaks for healthcare related costs. For those of you expecting a hangover tomorrow, you can use your flexible spending account cash to purchase as many bottles of aspirin as you need. Painkillers and other over-the-counter treatments are reimbursable with money from these tax-advantaged savings accounts.

Other, more costly medial treatments might help out when you get around to filing your 1040. You can deduct certain medical expenses as long as they are more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.

Unfortunately, when we do the actual math, 7.5 percent is often a lot more than we expected. For example, your AGI comes to $40,000; that means you have to have more than $3,000 in medical costs before you get any itemized deduction benefit.

And pay special attention to that "more than" requirement. If you have $3,200 in expenses, you only get to count the $200 that exceeds your AGI threshold.

If you're close to your medical deduction cutoff, here are some medical write-offs that often are overlooked:

  • Travel costs to get to and from medical treatments. If you drove to the doctor last year, you can write off the distance at 20 cents per mile; 19 cents per mile for 2008.
  • Insurance payments from already taxed income, including a portion of long-term care premiums.
  • Co-payments and uninsured medical costs, typically vision care (extra pair of glasses or set of contact lenses), some dental treatments, hearing aids, and artificial limbs.
  • Alcohol- or drug-abuse treatments.
  • Laser vision corrective surgery.
  • Weight loss programs deemed medically necessary by a physician. Note the doctor's requirement. Buying Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers products on your own is not a medical deduction.
  • Other medically necessary costs prescribed by a physician. For example, if your doctor told you to add a humidifier to your home's HVAC system to ease your kid's asthma, that cost could be at least partially deductible.

For much, much more, check out this TurboTax medical deductions checklist. Get the official word from the IRS in its Publication 502.

Hopefully, you can make use of some of these expenses on your 2007 Schedule A.

Even if they aren't any good for this filing season, make note of them now. As 2008 winds down and you find your healthcare costs mounting, some careful medical spending at the end of the tax year can help you maximize medical deductions on next year's return.


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Upon checking insurance companies and other administrators of FSA plans, most require a signed and dated "statement of medical necessity" that shows the doctor's name and address; the patient's name; the medical condition being treated; the type of service and/or product/treatment/OTC recommended; and why the physician is prescribing it.

I hope this helps. I suspect as the implementation of the new FSA reimbursement rules under health care reform nears, the IRS will issue specific guidance.


Great question! Let me do some checking. I'll get back to you.


Kay, Have you got a checklist for exactly how a note from a doctor needs to be written?
In my case there's a supplement that I've been using that appears to have helped me.
I've asked my doctor (a dentist in this case) to write a note but he says he's not sure exactly how to write it. I'd like to give him more specific directions.

Thank you

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