Author: Renee-Marie Stephano
If you think medical procedures have to be a taxing experience, think again.
Maybe you’ve heard that medical tourism can ease some of the worries related to rising costs or limited access to readily available healthcare procedures. What you may not have known is that medical expenses incurred overseas can be deducted under IRS Publication 502. Do you wish you knew this last month before filing your taxes?
So, if you’re thinking about combing elective surgery or another medical procedure with a short vacation overseas, it might be a good idea to start planning for next year’s tax returns. Before you know it, the April 15th deadline will be right around the corner.
IRS Publication 502 states that “Medical expenses are the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body. These expenses include payments for legal medical services rendered by physicians, surgeons, dentists and other medical practitioners. They include the costs of equipment, supplies, and diagnostic devices needed for these purposes. Medical care expenses must be primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental defect or illness. They do not include expenses that are merely beneficial to general health, such as vitamins or a vacation.”
Are You Covered?
Now, if you are wondering if a trip overseas to El Salvador for expensive dental implants you cannot afford in the United States will be deductible or a cancer treatment your wife is scheduled to have in India is a medical expense, consider this: is the travel made solely for the purpose of medical treatment and not a vacation. You are then covered, not only for medical costs, but airfare and transportation to the doctor’s office and lodging while you are being seen as well.
You also should know you are not alone in making these itemizations. More and more people are traveling to places all over the world to get healthcare including all sorts of surgeries not available or affordable to them in the United States. In the meantime, they are getting great quality care and saving thousands of dollars. You don’t have to tell the IRS you are making a vacation out of it, either; but, you will not be able to deduct expenses directly related to personal excursions.
It is important to understand that medical expenses in general are only deductible as an itemized tax deduction and only to the extent the medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of the patient’s Adjusted Gross Income. Don’t forget to have authentic documentation for proof of expenses and, perhaps, comparable quotes for procedures from a physician at home. You can keep the sightseeing photos to yourself.