Tax Deductions for Gluten Free Food

A gluten free diet is the medical treatment for someone diagnosed with celiac disease. Depending on the amount of income you claim on your federal income tax return, you may be able to claim tax deductions for gluten free food. These expenses are considered medical expenses if you are diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten allergy. There are a complicated set of rules and it requires detailed record-keeping but it is possible. The basics of the tax deduction for gluten free food are that you can only deduct the cost difference between a regular item and its gluten free alternative.

An example would be: A box of Bisquick might cost $2.00 but the gluten free Bisquick might cost $6.00. Your allowable deduction would be $4.00. Again, this record-keeping can be time consuming but there are ways to keep track of it using a spreadsheet or financial program like Quicken 2012 Home & Business.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Get a letter from your doctor that identifies your condition. You may not have to send this in with your tax return, keep it on file in case you are audited.
  • Make sure to save all your receipts for gluten free food.
  • The costs of naturally gluten free foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables cannot be deducted.
  • Shipping costs for items ordered online are tax deductible.
  • If the gluten free item does not have a “regular” counterpart, then the entire cost of the item is deductible.
  • Only food used by the celiac patient is covered, not food for the entire family.
  • Your mileage to and from your doctor, pharmacy and grocery store is also deductible.

One of the big issues with the medical deduction in general is that you can only claim expenses above 7.5% of your income. Like I said at the beginning of this article, your deduction will depend on the amount of income that you claim. You also have to itemize your return to claim any medical expenses. Make sure it is worth your time and effort to track these expenses. Many people go to elaborate means to track them only to find that they will not get any deduction.

There is also a deduction allowable for medical education. IRS Publication 502 states “…you may include expenses for admission and transportation to a medical conference relating the chronic disease of yourself, your spouse, or your dependent (if the costs are primarily for and essential to the medical care).” This has been ruled to include the registration of yourself, your spouse and your celiac dependent. However, you may not deduct the costs for meals and lodging while attending the medical conference.

The purpose of this article is not to give you specific medical, legal, accounting or tax advice. Please discuss these expenses with a tax professional before including them on your return. Tax laws change every year, which makes it more important to discuss this deduction with a tax professional each time you file. More information about tax deductions for gluten free food can be found in IRS Publication 502.

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