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Tax questions: Deducting medical expenses?

Many Americans are one step closer to filing their taxes trying to beat the April 18 deadline, this year. We are answering your tax questions.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It's March 1 and that means many Americans are one step closer to filing their taxes trying to beat the April 18 deadline, this year.

Thanks to the pandemic many people had larger medical expenses than last year.


Can you deduct medical expenses on your federal taxes? 



Yes, you can deduct medical expenses, but only if the amount of your total medical expenses exceeds 7.5% of your adjusted gross income and only if you choose to itemize. 

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to the Defenders team by emailing money@wcnc.com.


"For most Americans, it's not something you generally see," Steber said.

Steber tells us most people won't deduct their medical expenses because you need to have large medical bills in order to make it worthwhile. According to the IRS, you can deduct only the amount of your total medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. You can figure out that number by filling out a form known as a "Scheduled A" Form 1040. 

"So basically, you take your income with a couple of modifications multiply that by 7.5% and you can take as a tax deduction the amounts over that," Steber said.

The IRS states those deductible medical care expenses may include cost for diagnosis, cure, treatment, prevention of disease, and more. To qualify for the deduction, Steber told us it would have to be a large amount of money, usually for a catastrophic medical condition. However, some seniors may be eligible. 

"That can also apply to people like seniors when they have a low income they may be retired and have higher medical cost," Steber said. 

Here's the tricky part. You can only claim a medical deduction if you itemize. For most people, the standard deduction will result in a lower tax payment or a higher refund. You can calculate your return both ways and then see which gives you a bigger bang for the buck. 

Contact Meghan Bragg at mbragg@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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