Praise be! Writer celebrates failing test for deducting medical expenses

Deduction for medical expenses goes from 7.5 percent of AGI to 10 percent under Obamacare.
by Paula Burkes Published: February 6, 2013

“It's appalling the things you can't write off, when you can't write off fighting cancer,” Shannon said. “It's like you have to make six figures before you can claim anything.”

According to 2010 data, the latest available, only 10.4 million taxpayers qualify for the medical expenses deduction, claiming a total of some $85.3 million, said Lea Crusberg, south Texas and Oklahoma spokeswoman for the Internal Revenue Service.

Meanwhile, a high school friend of mine who works for the state, is frustrated he, starting last year, could set aside only $2,500 in his medical flex account because of health reforms. Previously, his employer allowed him to put $3,600 annually in the tax-favored account, while other employers allowed up to $5,000 annually.

“The cafeteria plan helped by immediately reimbursing deductibles and co-pays,” he said. “We max it out between my wife's migraines and all the other ailments Dr. Oz has her worried about. I am Type II diabetic, have gout and am on high blood pressure meds I take daily.”

I last fall made a $2,500 2013 contribution to my FSA because my daughter needs braces. In fact, her orthodontist put them on yesterday.

Meanwhile, health care costs continue to skyrocket. Along with out-of-pocket costs last year, I paid $2,049 in health insurance premiums, while my employer paid $4,784.

It's no surprise that health insurance premiums eat up an average 24 percent of yearly household incomes — a fact I learned at a Society of American Business Editors and Writers seminar last month in New York.

I'm just hoping that, a year from now when it's time to file our 2013 income taxes, I again fail the test to deduct any medical expenses.

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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