If you or one of your dependents has celiac disease and you itemize your deductions, the extra costs due to gluten-free dietary restrictions may be taken as a medical expense. In addition, you can deduct the cost of attending medical education conferences.

Do you qualify for a deduction?

  • Physician Diagnosis. You must have a diagnosis in writing and a prescription stating that a gluten-free diet is necessary to treat your celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity from your physician.
  • AGI threshold.  The amount of allowable medical expenses you must exceed before you can claim a deduction is 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). For example, if your annual income is $50,000, you can only deduct medical expenses that exceed $3,750.
  • You must itemize.  You can only claim your medical expenses if you itemize deductions on your federal tax return, Form 1040, Schedule A. You can’t claim these expenses if you take the standard deduction.
  • No double benefit.  You can’t claim a tax deduction for medical expenses you paid with funds from your Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Arrangements. Amounts paid with funds from those plans are usually tax-free.

 

Gluten-Free Food and Travel Expense

What can you deduct?

  • You may deduct the cost of gluten-free (GF) food that is in excess of the cost of the gluten containing food that you are replacing. For example, if a loaf of gluten-free bread costs $5.00 and a comparable loaf of gluten containing bread costs $2.50, you may include in your medical expenses the excess cost of $2.50 for each loaf of bread you purchase.
  • The full cost of special items needed for a GF diet may be deducted. An example is the cost of xanthan gum used in gluten-free home baked items, which is never used in a gluten containing recipe.
  • If you make a special trip to a store to purchase GF foods, the cost of your transportation to and from the store is deductible. If you used your vehicle for the trip during the year 2019, you may deduct 20 cents per mile. For 2020, you may deduct 7 cents per mile. You may also include tolls and parking fees.
  • The full cost of postage or other delivery expenses for GF foods made by mail order are deductible.

 

A woman reviews ingredients on a box in a supermarket.

Step-by-Step Guide

Step One: Get an official, written diagnosis from your physician and a prescription for a gluten-free diet. You will need to submit this form with your taxes, so make sure to keep a copy for your records.

Step Two: Save your receipts for your gluten-free groceries.

Step Three: Based on the list above, figure out what you can deduct and then start your calculations! You will need to calculate the difference between gluten-free products and non-gluten-free products from the grocery store.

Step Four: File! Fill out the medical deductions form called the Form 1040, Schedule A.

Please consult your tax preparer when calculating your deductions, and refer to IRS Publication 502.

Medical Education Expense Deductions

IRS Publication 502 provides that “You can include in medical expenses amounts paid for admission and transportation to a medical conference if the medical conference concerns the chronic illness of yourself, your spouse, or your dependent.

The costs of the medical conference must be primarily for and necessary to the medical care of you, your spouse, or your dependent. The majority of the time spent at the conference must be spent attending sessions on medical information”  However, you may not deduct the costs for meals and lodging while attending the medical conference.

For the final determination for what is tax deductible, refer to IRS ruling 2000-24 and IRS Publication 502.