Caregiver Tax Credits and Medical Expense Deductions

Medical Expense Deductions for Caregivers

By Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Are my Caregiver Expenses Tax Deductible?

With increasing numbers of family caregivers in the United States caring for others by driving to medical appointments, paying for health care help, and shelling out for mom or dad’s prescriptions and medical alert devices, there’s a lot of family financial assistance that’s never really calculated. Make use of caregiver tax breaks! Caregivers are entitled to quite a few tax deductions for their caregiving services and expenditures, and other eligible medical expense deductions.

If you’re a family caregiver and feeling a financial strain, there’s help available. “There are a variety of tax breaks for caregivers caring for family members,” says Rosanne Rogé, CFP, CSA, RFP, managing director of R.W. Rogé and Company.“As more and more boomers are taking on caregiving responsibilities, it is very important for them to understand tax ramifications.”

A great way to find out about medical expense deductions and other tax breaks is to go right to the source – the Internal Revenue Service. “Federal programs for assistance with tax preparation can be found on,” Rogé says. “The VITA Program (The IRS Volunteer Tax Income Tax Assistance Program) and The TCE Program (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) both offer free tax preparation advice for those who qualify.” States also have programs, but they are often unique to the state, so Rogé suggests contacting your state’s Department on Aging for direction.

Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS, chair of the Elder Planning Task Force for AICPA (American Institute of CPAs), says figuring out how much financial support you provide is important when thinking about caregiver tax credits. “The first item to consider is the ability to claim the family member you are caring for as a dependent on your personal income tax return,” says Sarenski. “This will open the door to many other deductions you can claim.”

There are a few criteria your family has to meet, but it’s worthwhile to see if you’re eligible for this important caregiver tax credit. If you provide more than 50 percent of the relative’s support, says Rogé, including things like food, shelter, and clothing, then you’ve met one of the requirements, even if they don’t live with you. If Mom’s yearly gross income is less than $4,000 (the 2015 limit) and no one else can claim her as a dependent, that also matters. If several family members contribute support, only one person can make the dependent claim on taxes, says Sarenski, so the family should pick one person who can do that.

“Once you can claim the dependency exemption you can claim medical costs that you pay for that dependent relative,” says Sarenski. If a doctor orders or prescribes dental care, eyeglasses, items for hearing impairment such as adapters for TVs or telephones, prescription drugs, or even a weight loss program, Sarenski says you might be able to claim those medical expenses but only if they total more than 10 percent of your own adjusted gross income. If your age is over 65, then that limit is set at 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, says Rogé. Just make sure you keep good records and receipts.

Even home modifications like a wheelchair ramp or grab bars in bathrooms might count as a medical expense deduction, says Rogé, if the changes did not add value to your home. If your home value did go up, then your deduction would be the cost of the modification minus the amount it increased the home value.

Just like you might claim a tax credit for your childcare, you can sometimes do the same for caregiving, says Rogé. If you hire caregiving help for when you’re at work, those expenses might trigger a child and dependent care expenses tax credit. And you can save more if you use an employer-sponsored Flexible Spending Account. “A caregiver’s tax-free FSA (Flexible Spending Account) may be used to cover these care expenses,” says Rogé, as long as you’re responsible for more than 50 percent of the support.

And if you aren’t comfortable doing your taxes with a program like TurboTax you might want to hire a pro. “A program like TurboTax asks a lot of good questions while you are preparing a return but if you don’t answer the questions correctly the program can lead you down a wrong path,” says Sarenski.

If you’re a caregiver, you don’t have to absorb all the costs of caring for a family member. Finding out how you can save some of your hard-earned money through caregiver tax breaks can help ease your mind and your wallet.

Looking for more savings? Read our post on financing senior care.

Tagged with: finance, taxes

6 thoughts on “Caregiver Tax Credits and Medical Expense Deductions

  1. Connie Rusche
    April 3, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    I’ve been taking care of my mom and dad for years. My dad has passed away 7 years ago. My mom is 88 in a care facility due to dementia. My husband and I do all the things from Drs appointment s to taking her there. We live 30 where she is living. She also has a bad heart. I’ve put alot of money into her care.

  2. Thomas Ozarowicz
    April 7, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    Would of been nice to know before I did my taxes! Be nice if SSI or some financial assistance was available. I’ve been caring for my elderly mother with cancer and macular degeneration and helping sister with MS for years!

  3. Pamela Spring
    April 8, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Your example of mom income at 4000 in 2015 ..this is what is wrong who in the U.S. could live off 4000 with no help !!

  4. Janie Aslund
    April 12, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    It does not help if you are in your 50’s, and your husband becomes disabled and can no longer work. No breaks for us!

  5. Inger
    April 15, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    I’m in the same boat. I’m in my 50’s and husband has had Alzheimer’s and Dementia for 4 years. I quit my job and school then.

  6. Juliana Cheng
    May 29, 2018 at 4:46 am

    Unjust new rules. Abusive to REAL CARE GIVERS whom did the Caregiving after all the paid relieve caregivers went home for the day. Devalued all these care givers whom did the cares out of one’s heart without taking into considerations on the “Paid per hour” costs and expenses because NO BODY COULD AFFORD $14 to $26 per hours, minimum of four hours shift to take care of the senior whom no longer has a work income. Sigh.

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