Shed Holiday Pounds, Get a Tax Deduction

Tax Tips

If you’re like me, putting on a few pounds over the holidays is nothing new (in fact, I absolutely believe it’s part of the joys of the season)! Of course, it takes months of watching what I eat and exercising to shed the extra weight. But the silver lining to my weight loss woes is that many types of weight loss expenses can be tax deductible.

So, if you are ready to start your post-holiday diet, here’s what you need to know (besides the fact that inhaling a 2-pound box of See’s Candy may not be the smartest strategy!)

Weighing In

What can you deduct on your taxes if you itemize?

  • The initial fees to join a weight loss program
  • Additional fees to attend regular meetings (such as Weight Watchers) where people develop diet plans, receive menus and info and discuss the challenges of losing weight.
  • Bariatric surgery
  • FDA approved weight-loss drugs
  • Physician and hospital-based weight loss programs
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Dietitians and nutritionists

What can’t you deduct?

  • Health club dues
  • Cost of home exercise equipment
  • Cost of diet foods, such as pre-packaged meals from Jenny Craig or NutriSystem
  • The cost of enrollment in a weight loss program to improve appearance, general health or sense of well-being, rather than to treat a specific medical problem associated with being overweight
  • Non-prescription weight loss products
  • Nutritional Supplements
  • Any costs that are covered by insurance

If you’re planning on deducting your weight loss program, keep receipts and your doctor’s order as back-up documentation for your taxes. You’ll want to make sure that your paperwork states your physician’s name and reason for treatment.

Ultimately, losing weight isn’t about getting a tax deduction, it’s about getting healthy and feeling great. But if knowing that you’ll get money back in your pocket at tax time is extra motivation to get healthy, all the better. Here’s to your fit bod and to a bigger refund.

Comments (6) Leave your comment

  1. Hi Kiiwii –

    Joining a weight control program simply to improve appearance, general health and sense of well-being and not under a physician’s guidance does not qualify. If you are being treated by a MD for obesity, the IRS will allow you to deduct fees associated with programs such as Weight Watchers but it does not allow participants to deduct the expense of diet food. There also is no deduction for joining a gym.

    Hope this helps.


  2. I totally agree that it’s so crazy about the home exercise equipment not being able to be a deduction. It’s ok to deduct a dangerous and life-threatening surgery but not a treadmill to be able to stay in shape with over the long run!!! A yearly allowance would be great. Use it for health club dues or home equipment. What a boost to the economy and our health!!!

    1. good thought, but american’s are far too sneaky bending the tax code to their advantage for that to work. just about anything can be “exercise equipment.” If there was a tax break for it people would count their new WiiU, expensive race bikes, and even pets as “exercise equipment.”

      1. Expensive race bikes ARE health equipment and should qualify just the same as a gym membership, especially when the bike is actually used whereas a lot of people don’t even see the inside of their gym more than two to three times a month.

  3. No exercise equipment? I just don’t get that. That’s like closing the barn door after the horses escaped. Teh IRS should give a yearly allowance. It would entice people to exercise and boost the economy at the same time. But no. Instead of preventing obesity with exercise and the equipment needed to perform it, they’d rather have you take expensive and sometimes extreme measures. Maybe it’s because those are services rendered by licensed professionals.

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