Mileage tax deductions for medical visits

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Q. What is the mileage allowance for medical appointments when filing the 2017 New Jersey income tax return? Is this the same as for the federal return? Is this deduction in danger of being eliminated in 2018?
— Taxpayer

A. Here’s how the deduction works in 2017.

In general, under New Jersey statute and regulations, medical expenses that are allowed as a deduction for federal income tax purposes are allowed as a deduction for New Jersey gross income tax purposes provided that the medical expenses exceed two percent of the taxpayer’s New Jersey gross income, said Dennis Haase, an attorney with Einhorn Harris in Denville.

This includes medical transportation costs involving the use of the taxpayer’s car to drive to and from the location where the taxpayer, taxpayer’s spouse, civil union partner or domestic partner, or taxpayer’s dependents received medical care or medical services, Haase said.

“Under federal tax law and New Jersey tax law, in lieu of actual operating expenses, the standard mileage rate may be used,” he said. “In 2017 that amount was 17 cents a mile.”

If actual operating expenses are used, he said, the taxpayer may deduct the oil and gasoline expenses consumed in driving to and from the medical services provider.

For example, he said, if a taxpayer drove to and from the doctor’s office for a round trip of 10 miles and visited the doctor six times during 2017, the taxpayer would be entitled to include in medical expenses $10.20 for mileage (10 x 6 x $0.17). The taxpayer may add to this figure the costs of parking and tolls for each trip to and from the doctor, clinic, hospital or other medical services provider, he said.

If the taxpayer does not have a car or chooses to take public transportation, the actual cost of such transportation to and from the medical services provider is included in medical expenses, he said.

“Other travel costs, such as ambulance services, are included in medical expenses,” Haase said. “However, to the extent the taxpayer is reimbursed for any of these expenses by insurance or otherwise, the reimbursed expense may not be deducted.”

To keep track of such mileage, parking, tolls, or public transportation costs, he recommends taxpayers keep a written record or log of the miles driven and parking, tolls or other transportation costs incurred. You should also keep any receipts showing payment of such expenses, and hold on to those records for at least three years after filing the tax return.

So will this deduction change for 2018?

“There are no proposals for eliminating the deduction for medical expenses at the federal or New Jersey level,” Haase said. “Although the 2017 House bill included a provision repealing the medical expense deduction for years beginning after 2017, no such legislation was passed by Congress, and it was not included in the 2017 federal tax act.”

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