Get The Skinny: The IRS Can Help You Lose Weight And Save Money

Posted on: 23 November 2015


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that close to 80 million American adults are considered obese. Individuals who are considered obese are much more vulnerable to certain diseases and health conditions, which include stroke, heart disease, some forms of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Some of these conditions can lead to death, which could have prevented had one taken the necessary steps to reduce their weight. Luckily, if you are obese and are at risk these conditions, the IRS may be able to help you. Read on to learn more.

Why Obese People Don't Get Help

One of the primary reasons that many people fail to tackle their problem with obesity is because of the cost. The CDC reports that there was $147 billion spent in 2008 on obesity-related medical costs. The average obese individual spends nearly $1,500 more than a person who is within their normal weight range.

Where Does the IRS Come In?

Believe it or not, you can file some of your weight loss expenses on your tax return by itemizing your deductions, which is something that could potentially pay off for 25 percent of taxpayers. The IRS is allowing taxpayers to deduct their medical expenses – in this case, medical expenses related to weight loss efforts – as long as a medical professional has confirmed that your current weight poses a significant threat to your health. Your doctor must be requiring that you enroll in a weight loss program in order to treat a disease, such as hypertension, obesity or heart disease.

What You Can and Can't Deduct

According to the IRS, you can deduct a significant amount of your weight loss expenses. This includes fees paid for weight reduction group memberships. However, you are unable to deduct any expenses that you may incur related to gym or health club memberships. The money that you spend on diet beverages and foods cannot be included in the medical expense deduction. The only way you can deduct the cost of special food items is if the food helps to treat a certain illness, the need for the food is put in writing by your doctor or the food is unable to satisfy your normal nutritional needs.

Why You Need to Speak to an Accounting or Tax Expert

Because there is a limit to how much you can deduct (7.5 percent of your Adjusted Gross Income) and the fact that the rules can be a bit complicated, it may be in your best interest to speak to either an accounting or tax professional for expert assistance. A professional will be able to help you determine if itemizing your deductions is even worth your time, as it may not be if the expenses don't meet the deduction requirements. If you've been through a weight loss program, are currently enrolled in one or are considering one at the request of your health care provider, get in touch with an accountant at Herman & Cormany to learn more about the deductions that may be able to help save you money come tax time.