It’s hard getting motivated to lose weight, but here’s something that might help: The IRS recognizes obesity as a disease and allows taxpayers to deduct certain weight-loss expenses. (IRS Revenue Ruling 2002-19)
Prior to this ruling, individuals could only claim a tax deduction for weight loss to treat a condition “associated” with obesity (such as high blood pressure) — not the obesity itself.
But as usual with tax breaks, there are a few conditions:
- Deductible weight-loss treatments include bariatric surgery, FDA-approved weight-loss drugs, doctor and hospital-based programs, behavioral and diet counseling, and nutritionists. But you must have a doctor’s diagnosis before weight-loss expenses can be deducted.
- Expenses related to general health, such as health club dues, nutritional supplements, diet foods or exercise equipment, are not deductible – unless they’re related to a doctor’s diagnosis.
- Fees for weight reduction programs, such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, are potentially deductible. However, the cost of diet foods or beverages cannot generally be written off because they substitute for what is normally consumed to satisfy your nutritional needs.
For more information, contact your tax preparer or visit IRS.gov.