Can I deduct vitamins on my taxes? 

December 15, 2020 by Karen Reed, EA
Vitamins

While straightforward enough, the answer to the question, “Can I Deduct Vitamins on My Taxes?” is not as simple as “yes” or “no.” There are a few rules and limitations to consider as you determine your eligibility for the deduction for medical expenses and whether you can receive a benefit from it at all.

The Internal Revenue Code allows for a deduction of expenses for the “diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease,” and there is a wealth of information indicating that taking vitamin supplements can prevent certain illnesses. But the general rule is that you can deduct the costs of vitamins as a medical deduction only if your doctor prescribed them to treat a specific medical condition. Thus, while taking over the counter vitamin supplements to maintain ordinary health may be good for you, you are not generally allowed to claim a deduction for the costs.

Even if your vitamin expenses do qualify you for a medical expense deduction, additional limitations apply. The first limitation is that the expenses must be paid for out of pocket and not have been reimbursed by insurance or paid for with pre-tax funds, such as money from a flexible spending plan. Another limitation is that you can only claim a medical expense deduction when you itemize your deductions. But since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act went into effect, most taxpayers do not receive a benefit from itemizing, and the percentage of filers who itemize is down to just 10-13% of taxpayers.

Even if you do itemize, the medical expense deduction has a threshold amount below which expenses are not deductible. For tax year 2020, the threshold amount for the medical expense deduction is 7.5% of adjusted gross income, which means that only medical expenses in excess of 7.5% of your AGI will provide a tax benefit to you. Most taxpayers do not have medical expenses that reach this threshold amount.

To sum it all up, you can receive a tax benefit by deducting the expenses for vitamins on your taxes under the following conditions:

 

  1. Your doctor prescribed the vitamin supplements to treat a specific medical condition
  2. You itemize deductions
  3. The amount of your qualified medical expenses, including the cost of your doctor prescribed vitamin supplements, exceeds 7.5% of your adjusted gross income

As you can see, there are some hurdles to clear when it comes to deducting the costs of vitamin supplements. But even if you determine that there is no tax benefit to taking your daily vitamins, we hope you will continue to take good care of your health!

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Karen Reed, EA

 

During her years as an audit representative for TaxAudit, Karen successfully defended the company’s members throughout the entire federal and state audit processes, handled cases assigned to US Tax Court, and developed procedures to make the audit process easier for taxpayers. Karen attributes a great deal of her tax acumen to the six tax seasons she spent as a return reviewer, analyzing thousands of returns. Responding in writing to questions from taxpayers, she became familiar with the common mistakes self-preparers make. Karen was previously the manager of the Tax Education and Research Department and the Director of Communications at TaxAudit. Her tax advice has been featured in U.S. News and World Report, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.


 

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