LASIK is the most popular refractive surgery for patients who wish to enjoy freedom from glasses and contacts. While popular, LASIK is not the cheapest way to correct refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.
Insurance companies rarely cover the cost of LASIK, forcing patients to pay for the procedure out of pocket. This significant expense can cause patients to ask: is LASIK tax deductible?
The good news is that patients may be able to write off some of the cost of the surgery with a LASIK tax deduction. As with all tax-related subjects, it is crucial to understand how the deduction works, who can apply, and the proper way to claim it.
LASIK is an eye surgery used to correct refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The procedure improves vision by using a laser to reshape the cornea and fix irregularities on the eye’s surface.
During surgery, the ophthalmologist creates a flap on the surface of the cornea. The flap is then moved to the side to operate on the stroma—the deep layers of the cornea. Once the procedure is complete, the doctor will put the flap back in place.
Following a successful LASIK surgery, patients will enjoy better eyesight and freedom from glasses and contacts.
Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not cover the entire cost of the procedure. LASIK is an elective surgery. This means the procedure is not considered a medical necessity.
While the surgery reliably gives patients clearer vision and corrects refractive errors, there are less expensive methods—such as glasses and contacts—that produce similar results.
Patients can expect to pay anywhere between $1,500 to $3,000 per eye, or $3,000 to $6,000 for both eyes.
Although insurance does not cover the costs of LASIK surgery, patients can write off some of the expense as a medical expense tax deduction.
Patients can subtract a portion of their medical expenses from their taxable income using the deduction. This can help them lower their tax bill or receive a tax refund.
There are a range of medical expenses that qualify for the deduction. Some include unreimbursed payments for:
Doctor, dentist, or surgeon fees
Inpatient hospital care or residential nursing home care
Supplies and equipment, needed for medical purposes
Transportation to medical procedures
LASIK is considered a qualified medical expense. The IRS defines medical expenses as, "the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body."
As LASIK is a treatment to correct defective vision, it is a medical expense which can be deducted from a patient’s taxes.
The IRS has a 7.5% threshold for medical expenses (including LASIK). This means that patients can only deduct expenses that exceed 7.5% of their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).
As an example, let’s say a patient has an AGI of $50,000. This patient would be allowed to deduct medical expenses that exceed $3,750. Because of the threshold, If the patient had $5,000 worth of medical expenses they would be able to deduct $1,250 from their taxable income.
Patients should note that this deduction includes a variety of medical expenses, not just the cost of LASIK. If the cost of LASIK alone does not exceed the 7.5% threshold, patients may be able to add other medical expenses to qualify.
To take advantage of the LASIK tax deduction, patients will have to itemize the deduction on their tax form. If patients do this, they will not be able to claim the standard deduction for their filing status. Instead, they will have to add up the total expenses, for LASIK and other medical care, for themselves and their dependents.
Outside of medical payments, patients can claim charitable donations, mortgage interest, business expenses, and a range of other personal expenses. The sum of all these expenses must be entered on Schedule A and then attached to your tax return.
If patients have questions about what qualifies as a medical or itemized expense, they should consult an accountant or tax professional.
LASIK tax deductions are not the only way for patients to save on the procedure.
CareCredit: This is a credit card specifically designed to finance medical and dental procedures. Once a patient’s credit is approved, they can pay for the cost of the surgery in monthly installments.
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs): These are accounts where patients can save money specifically for medical procedures’ costs. Money for an FSA is taken out of a patient’s paycheck, and it is tax free, and can result in some significant savings.
Health Savings Account (HSA): A Health Savings Account is similar to an FSA, but allows contributions to roll over to the next year if a patient changes employers or does not use your funds by the end of the year.
LASIK is a popular treatment option for patients with astigmatism. Learn more about the condition, the surgery, and what to consider before having LASIK with astigmatism
Don’t forget to ask your LASIK surgeon these 8 important questions during your consultation or before the procedure.