Mileage Deductions for Going to the Doctor

by Mark Kennan
Driving to see the doctor can boost your tax deduction.

Driving to see the doctor can boost your tax deduction.

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Going to the doctor isn’t something that most people look forward to, particularly when the drive is long, either because the doctor is far away or you pass through heavy traffic. But, especially if you have to drive a long distance to get to the doctor or you have to make frequent trips, your mileage costs might increase your medical expenses deduction.

Mileage Rate

As of the 2012 tax year, you can write off 23 cents for every mile you drive for medical purposes. For example, if you must drive 20 miles each way, you get to deduct $9.20 extra for every trip to the doctor. If you prefer, you can skip the standard mileage deduction and write off your actual gas and oil costs, but you can’t include any costs of depreciation, insurance, or maintenance costs. Besides mileage, you can also include any other transportation costs you incur for your trip, such as tolls along the way or parking when you get to the doctor’s office.

Driving Others

Like other medical costs, you’re allowed to write off your mileage expenses when you’re driving your spouse or someone you claim as a dependent in that same year. For example, if you claim your son as a dependent, you can include the mileage costs you incur driving him to the doctor during the year. However, if you drive a friend who isn’t your dependent out of the kindness of your heart, you won’t get a tax break from Uncle Sam.

Medical Expenses Deduction

Your medical transportation costs are just one component of the medical expenses deduction -- and usually a small one. The bulk of your qualifying medical expenses typically come from your actual out-of-pocket expenses for qualifying medical care. These include check-ups, diagnostics and other tests, surgeries and other treatment, preventive care, and prescription drugs. However, you can’t include any costs that you are reimbursed for or that are covered by insurance. For example, if your doctor bills $100 for a check-up but your insurance reimburses you $80, you can only count $20 toward the deduction.

AGI Restrictions

The higher your adjusted gross income, the smaller your medical expenses deduction. Any medical expenses you have that don’t exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income aren’t deductible. For example, say your adjusted gross income is $66,000. The floor for figuring your deduction is $4,950. So, if your mileage costs plus your other medical expenses totals $5,950, only $1,000 would actually reduce your taxable income for the year. Plus, you can only take the deduction if you itemize and pass up the standard deduction.

About the Author

Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."

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