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Are Braces Tax Deductible? The Answer Might Surprise You

Are Braces Tax Deductible?

For many young teenagers, having braces is a normal rite of passage. Sometime between the ages of 10 and 15, many kids go through the process of wearing braces for a year or two to correct orthodontic problems. Not only is this age a good time to do it, as all of the permanent teeth are present and the child’s bones are still growing, but it also brings the advantage of normality. Wearing braces used to be something that kids were embarrassed about, but today, it’s far less embarrassing and a lot more common. Walk into any middle or high school classroom, and a lot of the kids will have braces.

In some cases, adults who didn’t get braces during their teenage years will also decide to get orthodontic treatment later in life. Some go for traditional metal braces, which are both cost-effective and efficacious for very serious orthodontic problems. Others opt for less visible choices, like Invisalign or lingual braces. Either way, fixing crowding, overbites, and other problems can boost your confidence when you smile.

It may not have occurred to you to ask, but in some cases braces may actually be tax- deductible. Here’s more information about how you might be able to save money during tax season.

When and Why Are Braces Tax-Deductible?

Are braces tax-deductible? In some cases, yes. As you probably already know, braces aren’t cheap, and even the least costly options will still run you thousands of dollars. If you or your child need braces, you may actually be able to get a tax break that could help cover the expense.

Understanding the IRS “Medical and Dental Expenses” Category

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a category labeled “Medical and Dental Expenses,” which is relatively broad. Under this category, any costs incurred to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure a medical condition or illness are tax-deductible.

But does this apply to orthodontic expenses? For some of them, yes. A few of the costs that you may be able to claim include:

  • Fees paid to the orthodontist or to other practitioners;
  • The cost of supplies including dental equipment, medications, anaesthesia, and diagnostic services;
  • The cost of transportation to and from appointments, including gas, oil, tolls, and parking fees.

Subtracting Reimbursement

If you or your child are covered by a dental plan, you’ll need to subtract any reimbursements from your insurance company from your tax claims. This also applies to any other program that reimburses you for your orthodontic expenses.

How Much Can I Deduct?

There’s a limit to what percentage of your adjusted gross income you can claim: about 7.5% of your gross income. So if you gross $75,000 a year, you can’t deduct anything until your expenses exceed $5,625. If your expenses were $8,000, you can deduct $2,375.

Timing Is Important

If you’re going to claim a tax deduction for orthodontic treatment, you must do it during the applicable tax year. You must factor in your insurance, and keep all of your receipts for the payments you want to claim. If you’re audited by the IRS, you’ll need to be able to prove the costs of your treatment.

Again, in order to claim anything, your expenses must exceed 7.5% of your gross annual income, and you can’t claim anything that was paid by your insurance plan.

What About Cosmetic Treatment?

Orthodontic expenses for children are usually pretty easy to claim, as long as they meet the requirements. However, for adults, the IRS may not permit you to claim a tax deduction if your braces are for purely cosmetic reasons. If necessary, your orthodontist can provide you with a letter to include with your tax return, stating that you need braces due to a medical problem like malocclusion for instance.

Braces Are Sometimes Tax-Deductible

In some cases, your or your child’s braces may actually be tax-deductible, allowing you to save a substantial amount of money. This can be especially useful if your orthodontic expenses, not counting what’s reimbursed by your dental insurance, are high compared with your gross annual income. It’s worth looking into, as it could save you quite a bit of money, but it’s not always possible in every case.

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