Claiming Home Modifications as Medical Expenses
Have you made any modifications to your home this past year because of your own or your loved one’s disability or medical condition? If so, it is a good possibility that you may be able to claim it as an expense on your 2016 taxes. Get a copy of the IRS publication 502 Medical and Dental Expenses (Including the Health Coverage Tax Credit) to learn all of the details. Medical care expenses must be” primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental defect or illness” according to the publication.
The home improvements or modifications can consist of special equipment or structural changes if the main purpose is to provide or improve medical care for you, a spouse or a dependent. If the permanent improvements increase the value of the home, then the cost may be partially included as a medical expense when claiming home modifications.. The cost of the improvement is reduced by the increase in the value of the property, and the difference of the medical expense, according to IRS publication 502. However, if the property value is not increased by the home modification, then the complete expense may be listed as a medical expense on your tax statement. If you rent your home, rather than own it, you may still have allowable expenses.
Claiming Home Modifications
Quite a few home modifications can be included on your tax return according to the IRS 502 instructions.
- If you have installed ramps or porch lifts for your entrance and exits, then the cost can be claimed.
- The cost of widening your front door and back door and the inside doorways or hallways to accommodate a wheelchair or a hospital bed can be claimed.
- In the kitchen, modification of kitchen cabinets and height of appliances can be included as a medical expense. If you have improved safety in your bathroom, you can claim the cost of grab bars, a modified bath tub, or a wheelchair- accessible shower.
- Railings and support bars anywhere in the home can be included.
- Changes in electrical outlets or access can be included.
- Changes in the level of the ground around the entrances and exits of the home to improve access to the home are allowable.
- If you have put in smoke detectors, fire alarms or other alarm systems in the home for the purpose of improving medical care for a sick or disabled family member, then these expenses are considered medical expenses.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
Use the Worksheets in Publication 502 to help you figure the amounts of qualifying expenses yourself. In addition, the IRS has several programs to help taxpayers with their tax returns. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and the elderly. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, especially seniors who have questions about pensions, and retirement issues. Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) serve individuals whose income is below a certain level and need to resolve tax problems such as audits and appeals. Contact the IRS to find local offices of these programs.
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