Taxpayers with high medical expenses got a break this tax season, thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed late last year.

The law liberalized the medical tax deduction. For tax years 2017 and 2018, you can write off qualified medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income, a more generous break than the 10 percent threshold under the old tax law.

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And you might be surprised at all the types of medical deductions available. For instance, you can deduct expenses for a service dog or other service animals if you are visually impaired or hearing-disabled, or have another physical disability.

Among the tax deductions you can take for a service dog are the costs of buying, training, and maintaining the dog. You can also deduct expenses for food, grooming, and veterinary care, according to IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.

These tax deductions are allowed only for a recognized service dog, not for a therapy animal. (You might also be able to deduct expenses if an animal is part of your business.)

Unusual Medical Deductions

Service dog aside, there are plenty of other unusual tax deductions that you might not have considered. Barbara Weltman, an attorney and contributing editor to J.K. Lasser’s “Your Income Tax” book series, points out some other esoteric deductions:

• Wigs prescribed by a psychiatrist to deal with anxiety about hair loss.
• A special bed or mattress to help your back or sleeping disorder, if prescribed by a doctor.
• Home improvements to make your home accessible to someone with a disability.
• New siding on a home where a resident is suffering from mold on the old siding.
• Remedial reading help for a dyslexic child.
• Herbal supplements prescribed by a doctor for migraine headaches.
• Batteries for a hearing aid.
• Laser eye surgery.
• In-vitro fertilization treatments for someone who is infertile.
• The difference between the cost of a gluten-free diet and your old diet if it costs more and if it is prescribed by a doctor.
• Travel to visit a child in rehabilitation, if a doctor recommends the visit. 

Keep in mind: In the 2018 tax year, taxpayers will once again have to accrue medical expenses exceeding 10 percent of adjusted gross income in order to take a tax deduction. That’s true regardless of age; in the past, those 65 and older had to reach only the 7.5 percent threshold.

Also in the 2018 tax year, the standard deduction will nearly double to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly, $12,000 for singles, and $18,000 for heads of household. When that happens, many taxpayers may no longer need to itemize at all.


Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify that the $24,000 standard deduction for married couple fiing jointly takes effect in the 2018 tax year.