Deduct Weight Loss Program as Medical Expense Deduction

By | February 1, 2014

Can you take a medical deduction for weight loss program?

It is possible to take a medical expense deduction for the costs of weight-loss program.  A weight-loss program is a deductible medical expense only if you participate in the program as treatment for a specific disease diagnosed by a physician. The key to be able to take the medical expense deduction for a weight loss program is to get a note from your doctor saying you need to do the weight loss program to improve your health. On the other hand, if you undertake the program to improve your general health, rather than to alleviate a specific ailment, the costs aren’t deductible.


Deduct Weight Loss Program as Medical Expense Deduction

If your doctor diagnoses obesity, you will be able to deduct the cost of a weight-loss program. Even if you aren’t obese, you can still take the deduction if the doctor directs you to lose weight as treatment for another disease, such as hypertension or heart disease.


Deducting Fees Paid to Weight Loss Program

According to the IRS,  fees paid to join the program and to attend periodic meeting are deductible. However, the cost of low-calorie food that you eat in place of your regular diet is a nondeductible personal expense. IRS also won’t let you deduct membership dues in a gym, health club, or spa even if they help you lose weight. Remember, if you’re losing weight, make sure you’re doing it for the health benefits, not the tax deduction. Keep any documentation in hand in order to get the tax deduction.


Deducting Medical Expense on Tax Return

It is very important to remember that on your tax return, medical expenses are an itemized deduction and are deductible only to the extent the expenses exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2013, up from 7.5% of AGI in 2012. The more favorable 7.5%-of-AGI threshold continues to apply through 2016 if you or your spouse has reached age 65 by the end of the tax year.

Furthermore, another important consideration is that the cost of a weight-loss program that qualifies as a deductible medical expense can be reimbursed through an employer’s medical flexible spending account, thus providing the equivalent of a deduction without having to meet the 10%/7.5%-of-AGI limit. This could be very useful to people who have flexible health spending accounts. For example, If you make $45,000, for example, you can deduct weight loss expenses above $3375; if you make $50,000, you can deduct expenses exceeding $3,750.