Everything you need to know about the medical mileage deduction

What is a mileage deduction? This term essentially relates to mileage reimbursement – the money you are legally entitled to scratch off from your total mileage. Now, there are three main categories of mileage deduction, business, medical and moving, and charitable. In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about the ‘medical’ mileage deduction.

Medical Mileage Deduction 101

Medical Mileage Deductions are most often related to your trips to the doctor, medical or dental. Since this category is very broad, the IRS made sure to make a list of deductible medical mileage (which basically means that not every visit to your doctor allows you to scratch off some mileage at the end of the year).

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) has been:

  • 58 cents per mile driven for business use, up 3.5 cents from the rate for 2018,
  • 20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 2 cents from the rate for 2018
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

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Deductible expenses revolve around health insurance that is usually not covered by the employer, including both uncovered premiums and the unreimbursed premiums. These costs include diagnosis, treatments, prevention, cure, or mitigation according to IRS standards.

Taking all this into account, the amount you would be able to save from medical mileage deduction is still pretty vast. That is the reason why the IRS subjected this category to Adjusted Gross-income Limitation.

Adjusted Income Limitation rates

In essence, the expenses covered by the Medical Mileage Deduction can’t exceed a certain point. This ‘point’ is basically the percentage of your Adjusted Gross-Income (usually referred to as AGI).

Depending on age as the most relevant factor, there are two rates and two categories of Adjusted Income Limitations.

The first category relates to employed people who are not older than 65 years, and the threshold stands at 7.5%. The other category includes the elders above 65 years, where the threshold stands at 10%.

How to count your qualified miles

The way to count your qualified miles (miles qualified for the medical mileage deduction), you only need to subtract them from the ones accumulated on the entire trip.

The total miles you accumulate over a year’s period of time represent your total mileage. Even if you subtract the ‘medical’ or ‘qualified’ miles from the overall trip, the total mileage still accumulates over time, which basically means that one doesn’t cross off the other.

There’s another very important thing you need to be aware of. Your Medical Mileage accumulates via other means as well – it ‘stacks up’ as you visit diagnostic centers, when you go to therapy sessions, and also whenever you go to get, or even renew your prescription.

There are several exceptions to these rules. Basically, you are not allowed to get a medical mileage deduction for trips that revolve around the improvement of your general health. For example, if you are feeling totally fine and wish to make a trip to your doctor in order to get some vitamin shots, this does not accumulate your deductible medical mileage.

You are also not allowed to include the cost of miles you’ve accumulated with the intention of arranging a therapy or a regular check-up unless you’ve previously scheduled it in any way (vocally, via e-mail, or phone). The logic behind such a rule is rather simple – it’s very hard to prove the intention, hence the law forbids it.

On the other hand, you are in fact allowed to include the expense you have paid for yourself, or for your spouse. However, in the latter case, another string of rules apply. You can only include and benefit from the deductible medical mileage of the expenses you’ve paid for your spouse if the person in question was your spouse during the time such services took place.

How to avoid unnecessary problems related to the qualified miles

Most people nowadays multi-task. Taking a trip to the doctor, to the workplace, and to the store is usually executed in a single run. That’s the first mistake you’ll be making if you want to count your qualified miles manually (without using an application).

In essence, the calculation is relatively simple – every trip to the doctor adds up to your medical mileage. Every trip to the workplace adds up to your business mileage. Every other kind of trip adds to your total mileage, but not to your deductible mileage.

In order to keep your records as clean as possible (and to reduce the amount of work you need to put into the process), you have two options at your disposal. Either start taking metros and busses for your casual trips, or start using a mileage tracking application. There are numerous mileage trackers, each offering a different set of benefits at a different cost. TripLog is, according to many professionals from various industries (lawyers, real estate agents, realtors, and such) perhaps one of the cheapest and most cost-effective mileage tracking applications to date


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Transportation costs and medical mileage deduction

There are numerous other things you can add on to the list of your deductible medical mileage, most of which revolve around personal transport to the medical facility. Keep in mind that the following list does not even remotely apply on your medical mileage if the medical care you were receiving wasn’t of vital importance (life-threatening risks and beyond):

  • Taxi, plane, bus, and train tickets
  • Ambulance transportation services
  • Vehicle tickets and expenses for the parent who is obliged to go with the child
  • Vehicle tickets and expenses for the nurse and/or any other medical personnel that is legally allowed to give treatments

Medical driving and medical mileage deduction

We’ve mentioned the AGI rate, but the medical mileage deduction rate is something completely different. You are entitled to 20 cents/mile for medical or moving purposes. The rate went up by 2 cents from last year.

Final Words

Medical mileage deductions are not to be ignored. These do stack up and you could make significant savings annually. The only real problem is figuring out what you can and can’t do, and which miles you can and can’t deduct since the list is huge. Keep track of every mile you’ve driven, and keep a watchful eye for any updates from the IRS, and you should be good to go.

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