Until 2002, taxpayers were only allowed to claim the cost of doctor-recommended weight-loss treatment for such problems as heart disease and hypertension. Now, obesity itself qualifies as a disease.
Details of this tax break are in IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses. Here are some commonly asked questions about the topic:
Q: Do I have to be obese to be eligible for the deduction?
A: The eligible taxpayer must have a doctor-diagnosed disease, including obesity, that is likely to benefit from weight-loss treatment. Heart disease, hypertension and high cholesterol are other conditions that may prompt a doctor to prescribe weight loss.
Q: What kind of treatment expense is deductible?
A: It includes bariatric surgery, FDA-approved weight-loss drugs, physician and hospital-based programs, behavioral counseling, dietitians and nutritionists, as well as some commercial programs such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.
Q: What expenses cannot be deducted?
A: Health club dues, nutritional supplements, over-the-counter products, diet foods and exercise equipment.
Q: What documentation must be kept for the IRS?
A: You need not submit proof of treatment and payment with your taxes. However, such documentation should be kept in case of an audit. It should include documentation that a physician told you to lose weight for a specific disease, such as obesity. It is prudent to keep records of prescriptions, as well as other receipts and invoices related to treatment.