We are rapidly approaching tax time here in the US, and that means it’s time to finally assemble the return you’ve been procrastinating on for so long.
But here’s some good news if you’re scrambling for last-minute deductions. Dental care is deductible on your taxes. That’s right, every dollar spent at the dentist is potentially a dollar you can deduct from your taxes.
What Can You Deduct?
The truth is that the IRS is pretty generous when it comes to deductions for medical care. The IRS specifically says that you can deduct any expense related to the “prevention and alleviation of dental disease.”
It gives a list of specific preventive treatments, including:
- Teeth cleaning
- Application of sealants
- Fluoride treatments
These preventive treatments are a good investment on their own–being able to deduct them from your taxes makes them a superb investment.
Some examples of treatments to alleviate dental disease include:
The inclusion of braces as an example means that it’s probably okay to deduct expenses that have a cosmetic benefit, so long as the treatment also helps treat dental disease. Dental implants, for example, probably fall in that category. In addition, you can deduct the premiums for dental insurance (that you pay, not the part that your employer pays), the cost of traveling to get deductible dental care, and even attending a medical conference related to your dental condition.
However, there is a caveat: you only qualify for these itemized deductions if they total at least 7.5% of your total adjusted gross income (AGI). For example, if your AGI is $100,000, then you can only deduct healthcare expenses if they total $7500 or more. But remember: this doesn’t have to be just dental expenses. Dental and medical expenses can be combined to meet the 7.5% threshold. If you are considering using this type of deduction, check out the IRS’ handy calculator.
Don’t Even Try to Deduct These
On the other hand, any specifically cosmetic dentistry procedure is not eligible for deduction. The IRS uses teeth whitening as its example, but we’d probably also want to include porcelain veneers in that category.
Also, you can’t deduct home care expenses like toothpaste and dental floss. (Plus, seriously, how much floss do you have to use to make that a reasonable deduction?)
No Double Dipping
It’s also important to remember that you can’t deduct dental expenses that you paid for with pre-tax dollars, such as from a flex account or HSA. That would be like taking the deduction twice! In addition, you can’t deduct premiums from certain types of plans (like premium conversion or cafeteria plans) unless they appear in box 2 of your W-2. If you have questions about what types of premiums might or might not be deductible, talk to your HR department or plan administrator.
Plan for Next Year
Don’t have enough deductions to make it worthwhile this year? Have you been putting off a desired or needed dental treatment? Maybe now’s the time to plan ahead and get the tax benefit for next year. That way, you can take care of your dental health and maximize your deductions.