Five Ways to Stay Healthy This Summer on a Budget (and Maybe Get a Tax Deduction)

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Are you in peak condition, eating right, exercising faithfully every day, full of energy and rarin’ to go? Yeah, I didn’t think so. For most Americans, that is a dream but not a reality. Here are five ways to get healthy and stay healthy and maybe garner some tax deductions as well.

  1. Take advantage of the health-conscious benefits offered by your company. Many large organizations are recognizing that fit employees are productive employees. It’s not unusual for those companies to offer an in-house gym, child care programs that let you play with your kids on your breaks, and even time off to participate in active charitable events, such as walkathons or workdays for project-based charities such as Habitats for Humanity. Some employers even have financial incentives for walking each day, weight loss, or health counseling and weight-loss contests with prizes.
  2. Take on the challenge yourself. If you aren’t lucky enough to work for one of the companies I’ve described, this is your chance to step up to the plate. Organize challenges among your fellow employees, or set up a series of brown bag lunches with speakers on various topics. Ask your employer to sponsor, or at least give time off, for workers to participate in on charitable building or cleanup projects. It’s fun, and you’ll get to know your co-workers on a different level.
  3. Take advantage of medical savings accounts. If your employer offers a medical savings account, take advantage of it. You can have money deducted from your paycheck and put aside for future medical expenses. You’ll be paying those expenses anyway, and since your employer will deduct your contributions from your taxable wages, participating in your medical savings account provides you tax savings as well.
  4. Get a tax deduction for running. Charitable fun runs are a wonderful way to make new friends and get some healthy exercise at the same time. And though the cost of the entry fee may not be tax deductible, any money that you donate (for example, so much a mile) will be, if you itemize your deductions. Register for the race, get your friends involved, running and donating, and you can really make a difference in your community. You can also track your charitable donations using TurboTax ItsDeductible year round.
  5. If you qualify, deduct the costs for getting healthy. The key to getting a medical expense deduction for getting healthy lies in your doctor’s prescription pad. Though you can’t deduct expenses that support your general well-being, if your doctor orders certain procedures or programs, you’ll qualify for a medical expense deduction. Weight loss programs prescribed by a doctor to treat obesity or high blood pressure are tax deductible. But pay attention to the nuances: although the fees you pay to a weight loss clinic or program are tax deductible, the cost of foods and supplements are not. A health club membership won’t be deductible, but if your doctor orders you to participate in a water aerobics class for a specific condition you have, the cost of that class will be deductible. Weight loss surgery to look better isn’t deductible, but if you have plenty of documentation to show it was deemed medically necessary by your doctor, you’ll qualify for a deduction.

There’s no need to know the tax rules for deducting expenses to keep you healthy and fit.  TurboTax will ask you simple questions and give you the tax deductions you are eligible for based on your answers.

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