Tax time: can you write off your gym membership?
In the scramble to get your receipts and W-2s in order, don’t forget that the Internal Revenue Service may offer you a tax break on certain weight-loss programs and activities that are deemed medical expenses.
“To be deductible, medical expenses generally must be made in relation to the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease,” says Gregg Wind, a Los Angeles-based CPA. “So home-exercise equipment, for example, may be treated as a deductible medical expense if a doctor recommends it to treat obesity and not merely to promote general health.”
To figure out which of your weight-loss and fitness efforts can reduce your taxes, consult the chart below. For more information, see IRS Publication 502, available online at irs.gov.
EXPENSE DEDUCTIBLE? BE AWARE
Gym or health No You can deduct separate
club membership fees charged by your gym
for weight-loss activities
prescribed by a doctor.
Weight-loss Yes, but only if a doctor You cannot deduct weight-
programs or prescribed them as a loss programs if your goal
meetings, such treatment for obesity or is to improve your general
as Weight some other medical health, appearance or
Watchers condition well-being.
Low-calorie or Not entirely In general, these aren’t
special diet deductible because they
meals replace meals you would
consume anyway. However,
you can deduct the amount
these meals exceed the
cost of a normal diet if
it’s for a medical
Spa retreat Oh, if only! But sorry, Travel that is “for the
nope–even if your. general improvement of
doctor recommends it. health” is also not
Vitamins, herbs Deductible only if your Not deductible if they are
and other doctor recommends considered “merely
nonprescription them for a specific, beneficial to general
supplements diagnosed condition. health.”
Swimming, Generally, no The IRS considers such
surfing, dancing, activities “for the
bicycling or improvement of general
other lessons health” and, therefore,
not deductible. But if
your doctor recommends
them to treat a specific
disease, you may deduct
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