A world-renowned weight-loss program established in 1969
On April 2, 2002, the Internal Revenue Service announced a policy (IRS Ruling 202-19) stating that some overweight Americans may be eligible to deduct the cost of weight loss programs.
There are several ways to benefit from this ruling:
First, you can deduct qualifying expenses as part of medical care, which include weight-loss program fees, under Section 213(a) when your expenses exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.
Also, three employee benefits -- medical savings accounts, flexible spending accounts, and health reimbursement arrangements -- follow IRS guidelines so they can now be used for reimbursement of obesity treatment expenses based on a doctor’s recommendation.
If you have heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes, doctor prescribed weight-loss qualifies as a treatment even if you are not obese.
Body mass index (BMI) is a ratio of height to weight that is used to define obesity. A BMI from 20 to 25 is considered to be a healthy weight range. A BMI over 25 to less than 30 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. Your doctor can help you determine your BMI.
Though they may be part of your weight loss journey, health club dues, nutritional supplements, diet foods, meal replacement drinks, non-prescription diet products, low-fat foods, and exercise equipment cannot be deducted.
You need a doctor’s letter that:
You will also need a record of your expenses, invoices, receipts, and/or a weight loss booklet that is stamped with your attendance and payments.
For reimbursement through a medical savings account or a flexible spending account, you must submit both a doctor’s letter and proof of payment for treatments. Taxpayers are expected to be able to produce documentation of their deductions going back three years.
Talk to your doctor about your BMI and how it relates to your health. If he or she advises you to lose weight to improve your health status, be sure to ask for a letter of referral. This letter is essential if you plan to deduct weight-loss treatment costs on your tax return, or if you plan to submit them to your medical savings account or flexible savings account for reimbursement.