It’s almost time for Americans to sit down and calculate their taxes for the year. We sometimes get patients that contact the office and ask, “Are porcelain crowns, veneers, or dental implants and other dental expenses tax-deductible?” It’s a good question to ask and the IRS has published an entire pamphlet to address that question and more for people who will be filing during the 2014 tax period. For those that don’t want to read the booklet at this time, the short answer is some dental expenses are tax-deductible and others are not.
The major difference between the two categories is medical necessity. In other words, if a patient experienced a health problem in 2014 that negatively affected his or her teeth, chances are at least some of the treatment costs will be tax-deductible. It may also be possible to deduct other costs, like medications and health insurance premiums associated with routine or emergency dental procedures. The list of medically necessary examples that the IRS casually refers to in the pamphlet includes, but is not limited to dentures, dental x-rays, fluoride treatments, invisible braces and tooth-colored filings.
The agency also makes it a point to note that purely cosmetic procedures and personal use items are not tax-deductible. So, that means it’s not possible to deduct the cost of in-home or in-office teeth whitening. Expenses related to OTC toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash and general care products are typically not considered tax-deductible either.
This brings us back to the question, “Are porcelain crowns, dental implants and fillings medically necessary?” If they were performed to repair damaged teeth and restore oral health, the answer is most likely “yes.” The best way to know for sure is to read the pamphlet and discuss any outstanding issues with your trusted tax preparer or an IRS agent.
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland Dental School.