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Bonus Tucked Into GOP Tax Bill For Those Aiming To Deduct Medical Expenses

KHN contributing columnist Michelle Andrews writes the sequence Insuring Your Health, which explores well being care protection and prices.

To contact Michelle with a query or remark, click here.

Patients scored a victory within the powerful negotiations over the Republicans’ overhaul of the tax code.

The deduction that enables individuals with very excessive medical prices to shrink their taxable earnings by subtracting some out-of-pocket medical bills was a moving target in the course of the congressional debate this fall. Some lawmakers wished to repeal it, however individuals with severe diseases or who want long-term care stated that eliminating the tax break can be a serious financial blow.

Congress has come round to their mind-set, not less than for now. The tax invoice handed this month preserves and expands it.

Under the brand new regulation, individuals whose unreimbursed medical bills exceed 7.5 p.c of their adjusted gross earnings can declare a deduction for these bills in 2017 and 2018. Then it’s scheduled to revert to 10 p.c for everybody, stated Tara Straw, a senior coverage analyst on the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan analysis institute in Washington, D.C.

That’s a lower threshold than present guidelines, which had required that individuals’s medical bills exceed 10 p.c of their earnings to take the deduction in 2017 in the event that they’re youthful than 65. For individuals 65 or older, the edge already was set at 7.5 p.c.

Yet even on the decrease threshold, comparatively few individuals can take the deduction as a result of their medical bills aren’t excessive sufficient, Straw stated.

To begin with, medical health insurance premiums for employer-sponsored protection that many individuals pay for with pretax dollars usually don’t qualify, she stated. “For many people, their premium is their biggest medical expense, and for most people, it can’t be deducted as a medical expense.”

In 2015, roughly eight.eight million taxpayers took the medical expense deduction, in accordance with the Internal Revenue Service.

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The House model of the tax reform invoice eradicated the medical expense deduction, setting off alarm bells amongst client advocates for seniors and others. Lawmakers initially maintained that tax breaks such because the medical expense deduction weren’t mandatory as a result of their tax invoice would supply so many different general tax advantages to households.

The Senate model of the invoice included the medical expense deduction and moved the edge to 7.5 p.c, on the behest of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who was involved about excessive well being care prices for seniors.

For the ultimate invoice, lawmakers settled on the Senate model.

Please go to khn.org/columnists to ship feedback or concepts for future matters for the Insuring Your Health column.

Michelle Andrews: @mandrews110

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