Is Medicare Tax-Deductible?

By Maurie Backman Markets Fool.com

Medicare provides critical health benefits to countless senior citizens, and while Part A, which covers hospital visits, typically does not impose a premium, Parts B and D, which cover preventative services and prescription drugs, respectively, come at a cost.

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But it's not just premiums Medicare enrollees have to worry about; most participants have their fair share of copayments and deductibles as well. Now you may be wondering: Can I deduct Medicare premiums from my taxes? Thankfully, there's some good news there. Medicare premiums for Part B and Part D are indeed tax-deductible, as are supplement premiums for added insurance. You can also deduct your out-of-pocket costs under Medicare, such as copayments, prescription expenses, and the like. There's just one catch: You can only deduct expenses that exceed a certain portion of your income, so if you earn too much or don't spend enough, you're out of luck.

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Deducting Medicare costs on your taxes

As a taxpayer, you're allowed to deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses that exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Your expenses under Medicare, as well as the cost of your premiums, are included as part of the medical expense deduction, but eligibility will depend on your actual earnings and spending.

Let's say your AGI is $40,000 and you spend a total of $3,600 on Medicare premiums and expenses. In that case, you won't be eligible for a deduction (unless you have additional qualifying medical costs that can also get factored into the equation). But if your AGI is $40,000 and you spend $4,500 on Medicare premiums and expenses, you'll be eligible to deduct any amount that exceeds $4,000, or 10% of your AGI -- which, in this case, is $500.

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Keep in mind that unlike tax credits, deductions can't be used to directly offset your tax liability. Rather, they work by excluding a portion of your income from taxes, and your ultimate savings are based on your effective tax rate. So if, for example, you qualify for a $500 deduction and your effective tax rate is 15%, you'll only snag $75 in savings from that particular deduction.

Claiming medical expenses

Though you'll need to meet a certain spending threshold to qualify for a medical expense deduction and write off your Medicare costs, the IRS is fairly flexible in what it considers eligible. If you're on Medicare, you can deduct your premiums for Part B, Part D, Part C (Medicare Advantage), and any supplemental insurance you have. You can also deduct the cost of your deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments under Medicare.

Furthermore, you're allowed to deduct the cost of medical services not covered by Medicare, including dental treatment, vision care, prescription eyeglasses, and nursing home care. Not only that, but transportation to and from medical treatment counts as an eligible medical expense. If you see a specialist once a week and take a $10 cab ride each way to get there, you can factor your travel expenses into your deduction. Finally, if you spend money to alter your home or install specific equipment to address a medical need, you may be eligible to deduct those costs as well.

One Medicare-related expense you can't deduct, however, is a late enrollment penalty for Part B or Part D. Medicare beneficiaries who fail to sign up during their initial enrollment period are typically hit with a penalty that gets added to their monthly premiums, but these additional costs won't count for tax purposes.

Healthcare is the single greatest expense many seniors face. If you spend enough on Medicare and other medical costs, you might snag a pretty sizable tax deduction to help soften the blow.

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