Tax Court allows medical deduction for alternative treatment

graphics-882726_1920In a recent bench opinion, the Tax Court concluded that a taxpayer could deduct her expenses for integrative medical care as a medical expense under Code Sec. 213.

Victoria Malev of New York sought alternative treatment for a spinal disease, according to court records. While her medical doctor suggested surgery, Malev was concerned that the conventional treatment posed too much of a risk, or would be ineffective, so her provider suggested integrated medical treatment. Malev was already seeing a chiropractor, and opted to maintain the alternative treatments for her condition.

According to Duke University, integrative medicine "uses the most appropriate interventions from an array of scientific disciplines to heal illness and disease and help people regain and maintain optimum health."

The key word is "heal," said the court, as an expense paid by a taxpayer for "healing services" directed towards any structure of the body may be deducted as a medical expense under sec. 1.213(e), Income Tax regs. That regulation allows "as  a deduction the expenses paid during the taxable year, not compensated for by insurance or otherwise, for medical care of the taxpayer." Malev was not compensated by insurance or otherwise for expenses incurred through alternative treatment.

Further, nothing in the statute or the underlying regulation requires that the treatments received be furnished by an individual licensed to practice medicine in any particular discipline, or that the services or treatments be provided in person rather than remotely, that the treatment be successful, or the treatment be universally accepted as effective, said the court, citing Tso v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 1980-399.

Malev testified that her condition had greatly improved as a result of the treatments, which ultimately swayed the court to find she was entitled to the medical expense deduction.

Click here to read the full court order.