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IRS Allows Tax Deduction for Obesity Treatment


In the past, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allowed taxpayers to deduct the cost of weight-loss programs to treat obesity-related diseases such as hypertension or diabetes, but not to treat obesity itself. In April 2002, the IRS acknowledged the medical importance of treating obesity, making the cost of physician-prescribed weight-loss programs eligible for deduction as a medical expense.

Although this is an important step forward in the national effort to stem the rising tide of obesity in the U.S., the new tax law is not without restrictions. People who attend weight-loss programs without a doctor’s referral cannot deduct this expense. Nor can taxpayers deduct the cost of special food purchased to help them lose weight. Only expenses not covered by insurance qualify, and the total amount of unreimbursed medical expenses must exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.

Think this news comes too late for your 2001 tax return? Think again. Taxpayers can amend their 1999, 2000, and 2001 tax returns to take advantage of the new ruling. s

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