Benefits and Compensation

Special Foods? Hearing Aid Repairs? Now They’re Deductible

If a plan participant needs a special diet that costs more than an ordinary, everyday diet, or had to have a hearing aid repaired, he or she can deduct those expenses.

Specially Prepared Foods

In Information Letter 2011-0035, the IRS said that if an individual consumes a special diet for medical reasons, the amount by which the cost of specially prepared foods exceeds the cost of food that would satisfy normal nutritional needs can be deducted as a qualified expense for medical care under Code Section 213.

An individual who seeks to make such a deduction must establish the medical purpose of the diet; for example, through a physician’s diagnosis. Objective factors that indicate that an otherwise personal expense is for medical care include:

  • The taxpayer’s motive or purpose for making the expenditure
  • Whether a physician has diagnosed a medical condition and recommended the item as treatment or mitigation
  • Linkage between the treatment and the illness
  • Treatment effectiveness
  • Proximity in time to the onset or recurrence of a disease.

The taxpayer also must establish that the expense would not have been paid “but for” the disease or illness.

Hearing Aid Repair

The cost of hearing aid repairs also is a qualified medical expense under Section 213, according to the IRS in Information Letter 2011-0055.

Such expenses therefore are deductible.

That letter adds that hearing aid repair also can be reimbursed through a flexible spending account (FSA). But a caveat: while FSA
funds may be used to cover expenses incurred for hearing aid repairs, a plan is not obliged to cover such expenses. Whether or not the FSA will cover that expense depends upon the plan terms.