THE BLOG

Over 65? Check this Big Tax Break for Your Medical Bills

02/20/2015 01:27 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2015
Pascal Broze via Getty Images

You can get a special tax break to deduct your medical expenses. And they can be a lot more than you realize.

Here are just some of the potentially deductible items: The Part B Medicare premium you pay every month ($104.90 for most people), the Part D premiums you pay for drug coverage, the premiums you pay for any Medi-gap coverage (that's the supplementary policy); and premiums for long-term care insurance. And your co-payments and deductibles, such as your 20% share of the cost of a visit to the doctor's office.

There are lots of things Medicare won't cover, but you might need them urgently. Maybe you need a root canal, a crown or some new fillings. Medicare won't pay for this unless it is linked to some acute disease, such as cancer of the jaw. Your feet are sore, and the podiatrist fits you with orthotics for your shoes. Medicare doesn't pay unless you have diabetes. For new eyeglasses, Medicare declines to pay unless you have glaucoma or some other disease. All these out-of-pocket costs can go into your tax deduction calculations.

Here's how it works. Add up all your costs. Take a look at your adjusted Gross Income (AGI) If you are over 65, or your spouse is 65 or older, you calculate 7.5% of your AGI. Everything above that is deductible when you itemize on your return. Example, your adjusted gross income was $100,000 in 2014. You had medical costs of $14,000 for the year. 7.5% of your AGI is $7,500. The remaining cost, $6,500, is deductible when you itemize on Schedule A for the 2014 tax year.

Not as generous a deal if you are under 65. Then you get a deduction only on spending above 10% of AGI.

There are lots of things you might not easily recognize as deductible. Here are some from a list by Turbotax:

Wig for the mental health of a patient who has lost his or her hair due to a disease

Travel expenses for parents visiting their child in a special school for children with drug problems, where the visits are part of the medical treatment

Television (the cost of equipment used to display the audio part of a TV program for hearing-impaired persons.

Reclining chair bought on a doctor's advice by a person with a cardiac condition

Special education; tuition for sending a mentally impaired or physically disabled person to a special school that has resources to relieve the disability

Nursing home expenses, including the entire cost of medical care, plus meals and lodging if the main reason for being in the home is to obtain medical care

Medical conference admission costs and travel expenses for a chronically ill person or a parent of a chronically ill child to learn about new medical treatments. (But not the cost of meals and lodging while attending the conference.

Exercise program if a doctor has recommended it as treatment for a specific condition.

Extra rent or utilities for a larger apartment required in order to provide space for a nurse/attendant.

Here is IRS publication 502 with a full explanation of medical tax deductions for your 2014 return.

8 Ways To Prepare For Retirement