Making Weight Loss Programs Tax Deductible
In general, the costs associated with diets are not tax deductible. For instance, the costs of special diet foods, meal replacements for lower calorie foods, supplements and other beverages/food are not deductible as a medical expense. In addition, a medical reimbursement plan or flex-spending account is not permitted tor reimburse employees for these expenses.
Like other tax rules, there are exceptions! In this case, if a medical doctor prescribes a weight loss program for you, the costs are tax deductible. The law permits this if the weight loss program was prescribed to treat obesity, hypertension, heart disease or to mitigate any other medical ailments.
Service dogs/emotional support animals get special treatment as well. The costs to purchase a service dog qualify, along with any training expenses and food/grooming/veterinary bills. For emotional support animals, make sure that you can prove that the animal is being used to alleviate a mental disability or illness.
TAX TIP: Make sure you have a copy from your physician demonstrating that he/she found a weight loss program to be necessary to treat a medical condition/ailment and not just for general health. The letter should be specific as to the condition that it was prescribed for, such as obesity.
TAX TIP: Keep your receipts! Make sure you can document each expense and show that each expense was used to treat the doctor-diagnosed medical condition. Without receipts, you will lose the ability to claim the deduction in the event of an audit.