Is Your Weight Loss Tax Deductible?

Deductions and Credits

We all know that this is the time of year when everyone makes resolutions to lose weight, but did you know that if you itemize your tax returns (as 40% of us do), you can monetize your weight loss?

Here’s the skinny:

Weight loss programs ARE deductible

All programs – whether a big commercial program like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig or a physician or hospital-based weight loss program – can be deducted, providing your doctor has confirmed that your current weight is a threat to your health, and has therefore ordered you to enroll in a program to treat a specific disease, whether obesity (a designated disease as of 2002), hypertension, heart disease, or high cholesterol, for example. You must have this in writing.

Expenses must be legitimate

While you cannot deduct the obvious – such as the cost of diet foods (considered a personal expense), home exercise equipment, health club/gym/spa dues, nutritional supplements or any costs that are covered by insurance – legitimate program expenses include everything from initial fees to meeting fees to behavioral counseling, to appointments with physicians, dieticians, and nutritionists.

Consider costs

To get a deduction, costs must exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. If you make $45,000, for example, you can deduct weight loss expenses above $3375; if you make $50,000, you can deduct expenses exceeding $3,750.

Vanity doesn’t count

Thinking about getting liposuction to suck away those extra five pounds you’re carrying on your hips? Considering joining a gym just because you want to look – and feel – better? Expenses, as such, that are merely beneficial to general health, do not count, but things like Bariatric surgery, FDA-approved weight loss drugs and other medical expenses – providing they relate to alleviating or preventing a physical or mental defect or illness – do.