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12-11-2016 11:11 AM
What is considered to be "substantially beyond the end of the year" when making a payment for 2017 medical treatment and using it as a deduction for 2016? Will new sets of ongoing treatment (from 2016) that will begin in January and February 2017, but paid for in December 2016, be applicable to 2016 deductions?
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12-11-2016 02:24 PM
Welcome to the community.
You can deduct any qualifying medical expenses that you paid for during the 2016 tax year on your 2016 tax return regardless of when the treatment actually takes place. Expenses must be claimed in the year that they are paid for, not the year in which you incur them.
Specifically, the IRS says:
"You can include only the medical and dental expenses you paid this year, regardless of when the services were provided." (Pub 502).
"The year in which you take a deduction for medical expenses depends on the year in which you pay the costs -- not the year you incur the costs. For example, say that you have surgery on Dec. 20, 2013, but don't pay the bill until Jan. 5, 2014. Those medical costs are deductible on your 2014 tax return, not on your 2013 return. If the dates were flipped -- you paid in December 2013 and had the operation in January 2014 -- you could only deduct those costs on your 2013 return."
Keep in mind that the allowable deduction for medical expenses is equal to the total of all of your qualifying medical expenses less 10% of your adjusted gross income.
I hope this helps you out.
Senior Tax Advisor (Tampa, FL)
12-11-2016 03:00 PM
Thank you so much for the information, Louis.
So, just to confirm, the statement on page 10 of Publication 502 (2015), titled 'Payments for future medical care' where it states, "generally you can't include in medical expenses current payments for medical care to be provided substantially beyond the end of the year" would not apply to my situation, paying in December 2016 for treatment to take place in January and February 2017? These would be applicable to overall medical expenses for 2016?
Thank you in advance!
02-22-2017 01:59 PM
Just seeing your response which answered one half of my senario... i.e. service received in 2016 but paid for in 2017. The 2nd half of my question is if service is received in say November, 2016 and payment was posted to my credit card in December, 2016 and I paid my off my credit card in January, 2017? Do I use the "post date" or the "check writing date" to determine which year the medical payment is deductible?
01-10-2018 04:26 PM - edited 01-10-2018 04:27 PM
I'm interested in finding out more about what @wopgirl asked "So, just to confirm, the statement on page 10 of Publication 502 (2015), titled 'Payments for future medical care' where it states, "generally you can't include in medical expenses current payments for medical care to be provided substantially beyond the end of the year" would not apply to my situation, paying in December 2016 for treatment to take place in January and February 2017? These would be applicable to overall medical expenses for 2016?"
Seems to be two contradicting statements and hopefully Louis can clarify.
01-10-2018 06:38 PM
Welcome to the H&R Block community.
I'll be glad to clarify this for you.
What that statement is getting at is that you can't go pay for medical expenses that are several months out in December of the year before just to get the deduction. At the same time though, one of the main rules for medical as well as many other deductions is that you have to deduct expenses for the year in which they are actually paid. So if you ran the credit card in 2017 then you paid for the expense in 2017 and you have to deduct them on your 2017 tax return or not at all. Expenses for things that are already in the works that are paid ahead for January & February are not going to raise any red flags and deducting those is just fine, but for instance if you prepaid some huge expense for the second half of the year in December that might get the attention of someone at the IRS.
If you have any other questions I'll be glad to help.
Senior Tax Advisor (Tampa, FL)