Many Americans are searching for ways to decrease their tax burden. Luckily, there are many little-known deductions and exemptions that you can take advantage of. Here’s one of them: prescription eyeglasses.
You may be surprised to learn that the money you spend on reading or prescription eyeglasses are tax deductible. That’s because glasses count as a “medical expense,” which can be claimed as an itemized deductible on form 104, Schedule A. You can also deduct your spouse’s glasses (if you are filing together) as well as your dependents’ glasses.
Of course, as with anything involving the IRS, there are exceptions and stipulations.
You can only claim this deduction if the qualified medical expenses of you, your spouse, and your dependents exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI); or 7.5% of AGI if you or your spouse was born before Jan. 2, 1950. AGI is defined by the IRS as gross income (total income before taxes) minus deductions.
To take advantage of this deduction, you have to itemize your deductions. You cannot claim the standard deduction.
Additionally, your eye glasses must be needed for medical reasons in order to qualify for this deduction. If they are prescription eye glasses, whether you need them to read or to drive, you will be covered. If your glasses are only for show, then you won’t be able to claim them as a deduction.
You can also deduct the amount you paid for contact lenses. In fact, there are many medical expenses that qualify toward this deduction, and to reach at least 10% of your AGI you should claim as many medical expenses as you are legally able.
In addition to the contact lenses themselves, you can deduct any expenses relating to contact lens cleaners and saline solutions.
If you have insurance through your employer, you can’t claim the portion of your insurance premium that your employer paid. Also, you can’t deduct any medical expenses you paid using a Flexible Spending Arrangement or Health Savings Account, since these are typically already tax-free arrangements.
You can’t deduct any medical expenses that your insurance company covered—just the portion that you paid for yourself (copays, out-of-pocket expenses, etc.). For example, the portion of a medical bill that your insurance paid for is not deductible—just the left over dollar amount that you were responsible for.
To claim your glasses as a tax deduction, you need to include the expense as part of your itemized deductions on form 104, Schedule A. It’s unlikely that the amount you paid for glasses exceeds 10% of your AGI, so you will also need to claim all your medical and dental expenses along with vision.
Keep in mind that in order to claim medical expenses as a tax deduction, you must have made the medical payment within the tax year you’re filing for. If you received medical care in 2014, for example, but didn’t pay for it until 2015, then you won’t be able to deduct that expense on your 2014 taxes.
As with all tax deductions, it’s important to keep complete records of any expense you wish to claim. For example, keep any applicable receipts and bills for visits to the doctor. Everything you claim should be backed up with documentation.
If you are itemizing your deductions, then you may benefit from hiring a certified tax professional or an accountant, especially if your list of deductions is long and complex. A professional will also be able to help you determine whether or not a certain expense qualifies as a deduction (so you can avoid potential problems with your tax return).
Other medical and dental expensed that qualify for tax deductions include:
There are many more medical expenses that may qualify for a tax deduction. Since you need your medical expenses to exceed 10% of your AGI, it may be beneficial to read the IRS’s official publication for 2014 medical and dental expenses—you might be able to claim something you were unaware of.
Vision insurance is surprisingly affordable—and tax deductible, too! Learn more about how you can enroll in a VSP Individual Vision Plan today.