Did you know that there is such a thing as a tax deductible weight loss program? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers a tax deductible weight loss program where you can actually get tax deductions from your weight loss program. Read on to find out more.
What the IRS says
Before you head on to that weight loss center, make sure you are aware of the medical expenses involved in their program. According to the IRS Publication 502 on Medical and Dental Expenses, some of the costs can be deducted from your taxes. The document explains and differentiates the expenses that can be deducted from a tax deductible weight loss program. You can download it from their website as a PDF document, but if you find it too complicated, here is a summary of the tax deductible weight loss program in layman's terms.
Joining and maintenance
To qualify for the tax deductible weight loss program, a doctor should diagnose that you have a medical condition which requires you to lose weight. Being a little overweight is not enough; you must have a real and valid medical diagnosis like high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity. Once the doctor tells you to lose weight for any medical reason, make sure you get a written copy of the diagnosis of the ailment or disease. Remember that this written diagnosis is your key for qualification in the tax deductible weight loss program.
When you enter a tax deductible weight loss program, and the signup and maintenance costs of membership are part of the tax deductibles. However, the IRS provision does not include your expenses on food and supplements.
Know the rules
The IRS can be very specific about granting deductions for a tax deductible weight loss program. Here is a simple guide:
o Sign-up expenses for most programs are deductible.
o Membership fees are not deductible if you join a gym that offers nutritional counseling. However, if the gym offers a separate program without the counseling, you can only write off the costs of membership.
o If the counseling is part of a package, the costs cannot be deducted. The counseling sessions should be paid separately so that only the membership fees can be written off.
Special foods and supplements
If the weight loss program requires you to eat special foods or supplements (such as protein bars and shakes manufactured by the same center), the IRS will not cover their costs. The logic behind this is that a person naturally has to eat, but the IRS should not be responsible if you choose foods other than what is available.
However, there are a few exceptions. The IRS can deduct the cost of the food if it is not able to satisfy your daily nutritional needs, if the food is needed for treating a medical condition, or if the food is required by your doctor.
Exercise equipment and clothing will not be covered by the IRS. In formational material in any form, such as newsletters, brochures, instructional videos, and online subscriptions are also non-deductible. If the weight loss center offers any such materials, make sure they are billed separately from the program to avoid any confusion with the IRS.
Know your tax laws
Tax laws can be tricky, even for something as simple as dieting. Before signing up for anything, ask the center if their programs are tax-deductible, and make sure there are no hidden fees. You can also check with the IRS to see whether they honor a particular program. Check for updates in the IRS website so you can keep track of their new rules and policies.
Other ways to save
Regardless of your IRS coverage, a healthier lifestyle is still the best way to lower your medical expenses. If you do not qualify for a tax deduction, don't use it as a reason to give up losing weight. Rather, make use of what you have and lose weight in any way available. Give up your fast food habit and get regular exercise. You don't even need an exercise machine--a simple walk or jog once a day is enough. Sometimes, the simplest ways are the ones that work best.