In an odd turn of events, I'm passing along tax advice!
The IRS recently issued new rules that make it easier to deduct the cost of a weight-loss program. This presents an opportunity for tax savings, and in some cases a tax refund.
A weight-loss program is a deductible medical expense only if you participate in the program as treatment for a specific disease diagnosed by a physician. The IRS now recognizes that obesity is a disease in its own right. Therefore, if your doctor diagnoses obesity, you will be able to deduct the cost of a weight-loss program. Even if you aren't obese, you can still take the deduction if the doctor directs you to lose weight as treatment for another disease, such as hypertension or heart disease.
Make note, however, if you undertake the program to improve your general health, rather than to alleviate a specific ailment, the costs aren't deductible. Therefore, it's a good idea to get a written diagnosis from your doctor before starting your program.
Which expenses can you deduct? IRS says that the fees paid to join the program and to attend periodic meeting are deductible. However, the cost of low-calorie food that you eat in place of your regular diet is a nondeductible personal expense (would you really want to eat this food anyway?).
The IRS also won't let you deduct membership dues in a gym, health club, or spa.
Bear in mind that medical expenses are an itemized deduction and are deductible only to the extent the expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.
Another way to save money on a weight loss program is to pay for it through your employer's flexible spending account Hypnotherapy is generally covered in these plans. This is the equivalent of a deduction without having to meet the 7.5% limit.
(This post is courtesy of Troy Van Sloten CPA, M.S. Pleasanton Tel: (925) 484-5801).
BTW, I'm know very little about taxes myself. Consult a qualified tax advisor for questions about your specific situation.