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Publication 554

Itemized Deductions(p22)

Some individuals should itemize their deductions because it will save them money. Others should itemize because they don't qualify for the standard deduction. See the discussion under Standard Deduction, earlier, to decide if it would be to your advantage to itemize deductions.
You may be subject to a limit on some of your itemized deductions if your adjusted gross income is more than $156,900. For more information, see Overall limitation, later.
Medical and dental expenses, some taxes, certain interest expenses, charitable contributions, casualty and theft losses, and certain other miscellaneous expenses may be itemized as deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040).
You may benefit from itemizing your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040) if you:
See the Instructions for Schedule A (Form 1040) for more information.

Overall limitation.(p23)

You may not be able to deduct all of your itemized deductions if your adjusted gross income is more than:
If your adjusted gross income exceeds the applicable amount, use the Itemized Deductions Worksheet in the Instructions for Schedule A (Form 1040) to figure your total itemized deductions.

Medical and Dental Expenses(p23)

You can deduct certain medical and dental expenses you paid for yourself, your spouse, and your dependent(s) if you itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040).
Table 4-1 shows some common items that you can or can't include in figuring your medical expense deduction. For more information, see the following discussions of selected items, which are presented in alphabetical order. A more extensive list of items and further details can be found in Pub. 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.

Table 4-1.  Medical and Dental Expenses Checklist

You can include:You can't include:
  • Bandages
  • Capital expenses for equipment or improvements to your home needed for medical care (see Pub. 502)
  • Certain weight-loss expenses for obesity
  • Diagnostic devices
  • Expenses of an organ donor
  • Eye surgery—to promote the correct function of the eye
  • Guide dogs or other animals aiding the blind, deaf, and disabled
  • Hospital services fees (lab work, therapy, nursing services, surgery, etc.)
  • Lead-based paint removal (see Pub. 502)
  • Long-term care contracts, qualified (see Pub. 502)
  • Meals and lodging provided by a hospital during medical treatment
  • Medical and hospital insurance premiums
  • Medical services fees (from doctors, dentists, surgeons, specialists, and other medical practitioners)
  • Medicare Part D premiums
  • Oxygen equipment and oxygen
  • Part of life-care fee paid to retirement home designated for medical care
  • Prescription medicines (prescribed by a doctor) and insulin
  • Psychiatric and psychological treatment
  • Social security tax, Medicare tax, FUTA, and state employment tax for worker providing medical care (see Pub. 502)
  • Special items (artificial limbs, false teeth, eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, crutches, wheelchair, etc.)
  • Special education for mentally or physically disabled persons (see Pub. 502)
  • Stop-smoking programs
  • Transportation for needed medical care
  • Treatment at a drug or alcohol center (includes meals and lodging provided by the center)
  • Wages for nursing services (see Pub. 502)
  • Contributions to Archer MSAs (see Pub. 969)
  • Bottled water
  • Diaper service
  • Expenses for your general health (even if following your doctor's advice) such as:
    —Health club dues
    —Household help (even if recommended by a doctor)
    —Social activities, such as dancing or swimming lessons
    —Trip for general health improvement
  • Flexible spending account reimbursements for medical expenses (if contributions were on a pretax basis) (see Pub. 502)
  • Funeral, burial, or cremation expenses
  • Health savings account payments for medical expenses (see Pub. 502)
  • Illegal operation or treatment
  • Life insurance or income protection policies, or policies providing payment for loss of life, limb, sight, etc.
  • Medical insurance included in a car insurance policy covering all persons injured in or by your car
  • Medicine you buy without a prescription
  • Nursing care for a healthy baby
  • Prescription drugs you brought in (or ordered shipped) from another country, in most cases (see Pub. 502)
  • Surgery for purely cosmetic reasons (see Pub. 502)
  • Toothpaste, toiletries, cosmetics, etc.
  • Teeth whitening
  • Weight-loss expenses not for the treatment of obesity or other disease
You can deduct only the amount of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

What to include.(p23)

Generally, you can include only the medical and dental expenses you paid this year, regardless of when the services were provided. If you pay medical expenses by check, the day you mail or deliver the check generally is the date of payment. If you use a pay-by-phone or online account to pay your medical expenses, the date reported on the statement of the financial institution showing when payment was made is the date of payment. You can include medical expenses you charge to your credit card in the year the charge is made. It doesn't matter when you actually pay the amount charged.

Home Improvements(p24)

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for home improvements if their main purpose is medical care for you, your spouse, or your dependent.
Only reasonable costs to accommodate a home to your disabled condition (or that of your spouse or your dependent(s) who live with you) are considered medical care. Additional costs for personal motives, such as for architectural or aesthetic reasons, aren't medical expenses. Pub. 502 contains additional information and examples, including a capital expense worksheet, to assist you in figuring the amount of the capital expense that you can include in your medical expenses. Also, see Pub. 502 for information about deductible operating and upkeep expenses related to such capital expense items, and for information about improvements, for medical reasons, to property rented by a person with disabilities.

Household Help(p24)

You can't include in medical expenses the cost of household help, even if such help is recommended by a doctor. This is a personal expense that isn't deductible. However, you may be able to include certain expenses paid to a person providing nursing-type services. For more information, see Nursing Services, later. Also, certain maintenance or personal care services provided for qualified long-term care can be included in medical expenses. For more information, see Qualified long-term care services under Long-Term Care, later.

Hospital Services(p24)

You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for the cost of inpatient care at a hospital or similar institution if a principal reason for being there is to receive medical care. This includes amounts paid for meals and lodging. Also, see Meals and Lodging, later.

Long-Term Care(p24)

You can include in medical expenses amounts paid for qualified long-term care services and premiums paid for qualified long-term care insurance contracts.

Qualified long-term care services.(p24)

Qualified long-term care services are necessary diagnostic, preventive, therapeutic, curing, treating, mitigating, rehabilitative services, and maintenance and personal care services (defined later) that are:
  1. Required by a chronically ill individual, and
  2. Provided under a plan of care prescribed by a licensed health care practitioner.
Chronically ill individual.(p24)
An individual is chronically ill if, within the previous 12 months, a licensed health care practitioner has certified that the individual meets either of the following descriptions.
  1. He or she is unable to perform at least two activities of daily living without substantial assistance from another individual for at least 90 days, due to a loss of functional capacity. Activities of daily living are eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing, and continence.
  2. He or she requires substantial supervision to be protected from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive impairment.
Maintenance and personal care services.(p24)
Maintenance or personal care services is care which has as its primary purpose the providing of a chronically ill individual with needed assistance with his or her disabilities (including protection from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive impairment).

Qualified long-term care insurance contracts.(p24)

A qualified long-term care insurance contract is an insurance contract that provides only coverage of qualified long-term care services. The contract must:
  1. Be guaranteed renewable;
  2. Not provide for a cash surrender value or other money that can be paid, assigned, pledged, or borrowed;
  3. Provide that refunds, other than refunds on the death of the insured or complete surrender or cancellation of the contract, and dividends under the contract must be used only to reduce future premiums or increase future benefits; and
  4. Generally not pay or reimburse expenses incurred for services or items that would be reimbursed under Medicare, except where Medicare is a secondary payer, or the contract makes per diem or other periodic payments without regard to expenses.
The amount of qualified long-term care premiums you can include is limited. You can include the following as medical expenses on Schedule A (Form 1040).
  1. Qualified long-term care premiums up to the following amounts.
    1. Age 40 or under—$410.
    2. Age 41 to 50—$770.
    3. Age 51 to 60—$1,530.
    4. Age 61 to 70—$4,090.
    5. Age 71 or over—$5,110.
  2. Unreimbursed expenses for qualified long-term care services.
Note.The limit on premiums is for each person.

Meals and Lodging(p24)

You can include in medical expenses the cost of meals and lodging at a hospital or similar institution if your main reason for being there is to receive medical care.
You may be able to include in medical expenses the cost of lodging (but not meals) not provided in a hospital or similar institution. You can include the cost of such lodging while away from home if all of the following requirements are met.
The amount you include in medical expenses for lodging can't be more than $50 per night for each person. You can include lodging for a person traveling with the person receiving the medical care. For example, if a parent is traveling with a sick child, up to $100 per night can be included as a medical expense for lodging. (Meals aren't included.)

Nursing home.(p25)

You can include in medical expenses the cost of medical care in a nursing home or a home for the aged for yourself, your spouse, or your dependent(s). This includes the cost of meals and lodging in the home if a main reason for being there is to get medical care.
Don't include the cost of meals and lodging if the reason for being in the home is personal. However, you can include in medical expenses the part of the cost that is for medical or nursing care.

Medical Insurance Premiums(p25)

You can include in medical expenses insurance premiums you pay for policies that cover medical care. Policies can provide payment for:
If you have a policy that provides payments for other than medical care, you can include the premiums for the medical care part of the policy if the charge for the medical part is reasonable. The cost of the medical portion must be separately stated in the insurance contract or given to you in a separate statement.

Medicare Part A.(p25)

If you are covered under social security (or if you are a government employee who paid Medicare tax), you are enrolled in Medicare Part A. The payroll tax paid for Medicare Part A isn't a medical expense. If you aren't covered under social security (or weren't a government employee who paid Medicare tax), you can enroll voluntarily in Medicare Part A. In this situation, you can include the premiums you paid for Medicare Part A as a medical expense.

Medicare Part B.(p25)

Medicare Part B is a supplemental medical insurance. Premiums you pay for Medicare Part B are a medical expense. Check the information you received from the Social Security Administration to find out your premium.
Social security beneficiaries may quickly and easily obtain various information from SSA’s website with a my Social Security account, including getting a replacement SSA‐1099 or SSA‐1042S. For more information, see Obtaining social security information, earlier.

Medicare Part D.(p25)

Medicare Part D is a voluntary prescription drug insurance program for persons with Medicare Part A or Part B. You can include as a medical expense premiums you pay for Medicare Part D.

Prepaid insurance premiums.(p25)

Insurance premiums you pay before you are age 65 for medical care for yourself, your spouse, or your dependents after you reach age 65 are medical care expenses in the year paid if they are:


You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for prescribed medicines and drugs. A prescribed drug is one that requires a prescription by a doctor for its use by an individual. You also can include amounts you pay for insulin. Except for insulin, you can't include in medical expenses amounts you pay for a drug that isn't prescribed.

Imported medicines and drugs.(p25)

If you import medicines or drugs from other countries, see Medicines and Drugs From Other Countries, under What Expenses Aren't Includible, in Pub. 502.

Nursing Services(p25)

You can include in medical expenses wages and other amounts you pay for nursing services. The services need not be performed by a nurse as long as the services are of a kind generally performed by a nurse. This includes services connected with caring for the patient's condition, such as giving medication or changing dressings, as well as bathing and grooming the patient. These services can be provided in your home or another care facility.
Generally, only the amount spent for nursing services is a medical expense. If the attendant also provides personal and household services, amounts paid to the attendant must be divided between the time spent performing household and personal services and the time spent for nursing services. However, certain maintenance or personal care services provided for qualified long-term care can be included in medical expenses. See Maintenance and personal care services under Qualified long-term care services, earlier. Additionally, certain expenses for household services or for the care of a qualifying individual incurred to allow you to work may qualify for the child and dependent care credit. See Child and Dependent Care Credit, later, and Pub. 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
You also can include in medical expenses part of the amount you pay for that attendant's meals. Divide the food expense among the household members to find the cost of the attendant's food. Then divide that cost in the same manner as in the preceding paragraph. If you had to pay additional amounts for household upkeep because of the attendant, you can include the extra amounts with your medical expenses. This includes extra rent or utilities you pay because you moved to a larger apartment to provide space for the attendant.

Employment taxes.(p26)

You can include as a medical expense social security tax, FUTA, Medicare tax, and state employment taxes you pay for a nurse, attendant, or other person who provides medical care. If the attendant also provides personal and household services, you can include as a medical expense only the amount of employment taxes paid for medical services as explained earlier under Nursing Services. For information on employment tax responsibilities of household employers, see Pub. 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide.


You can include in medical expenses amounts paid for transportation primarily for, and essential to, medical care.

Car expenses.(p26)

You can include out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of gas and oil, when you use a car for medical reasons. You can't include depreciation, insurance, general repair, or maintenance expenses.
If you don't want to use your actual expenses for 2017, you can use the standard medical mileage rate of 17 cents a mile.
You also can include parking fees and tolls. You can add these fees and tolls to your medical expenses whether you use actual expenses or use the standard mileage rate.

You also can include:(p26)

Don't include transportation expenses if, for purely personal reasons, you choose to travel to another city for an operation or other medical care prescribed by your doctor.