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Special Medical Expenses

There are a variety of special regulations and deductions related to medical care. We’ve highlighted information regarding some of the subjects we get asked about frequently.


Medical expense payments for medical services rendered to a child (even before the child was placed in the parent’s home) are deductible by the parent(s) if:

– The child is a dependent of the adopting parent(s) when services are rendered or paid
– The expenses are directly attributable to the medical care of the child
– The expenses are paid by the parent(s) or agent for the medical care of the child
– The expenses are not reimbursement for expenses by the adoption agency prior to adoption negotiations

Adoptive parents cannot deduct the natural mother’s childbirth expenses.

Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is defined as any procedure which is directed at improving the patient’s physical appearance and which does not meaningfully promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness or disease. Cosmetic surgery is not a deductible medical expense unless it is a necessary procedure to fix a deformity related to or caused by:

– a disfiguring disease
– a congenital abnormality
– an injury resulting from an accident or trauma

Special Schools and Education

Payments to a special school (including meals and lodging) for a mentally or physically disabled person are deductible provided that the primary reason for attending that school is their resources for relieving the disability.

Surrogate Mother Expenses

The Tax Code specifies that medical expenses are only deductible for Medical Dependents (the taxpayer, spouse, and dependents). That means you can only deduct the surrogate mother’s medical expenses if she qualifies as a “medical dependent.” An unborn baby does not qualify as a dependent until he or she is actually born.

Weight Loss & Obesity

The tax code recognizes obesity as a disease, so you can include amounts paid to lose weight if it is a treatment for a specific disease diagnosed by a physician in medical expenses, including fees paid for a membership in a weight reduction group and attendance of regular support meetings.

Diet food or beverages do not qualify as medical expenses. You can include the cost of food in medical expenses only if:

1. The food alleviates or treats an illness
2. The food does not satisfy normal nutritional needs
3. The need for the food is substantiated by a physician

Alcoholism & Drug Addiction

Any amounts paid for inpatient treatment at a therapeutic center for alcohol or drug addiction are qualifying medical expenses, including meals and lodging. Transportation costs for attendance of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in your community are deductible medical expenses, provided your attendance is pursuant to medical advice for the treatment of alcoholism.

Programs to Quit Smoking

Unreimbursed amounts paid by taxpayers for participation in smoking-cessation programs and for prescribed drugs designed to help with nicotine withdrawal deductible medical expenses. Over-the-counter nicotine gum and other products are not deductible.

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