As tax day draws near, it’s a great time to look at some of the lesser known taxpayer options regulated by the IRS. Riveting? Well, we all have our opinions, but the IRS isn’t going away any time soon. And, however much you might not enjoy paying taxes, some of their functions could potentially positively impact your life. One of those is the standard mileage rates the IRS sets each year. And they seem to have one for everything: business mileage, medical mileage, moving. What’s with all these rates?
We’ve written quite a bit about the IRS business mileage standard, and you can read all about that here. But, in short, it’s the rate most employees use to deduct business mileage in their personal vehicles. So, what about this medical mileage rate?
First, the 2019 medical mileage rate is 20 cents per mile. Under Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code, that amount is what one can deduct for miles driven to get medical care, treatment, etc. Those would include trips to the doctor, dentist, or other trips with medical purposes (getting prescriptions, attending therapy sessions).
Note that traveling nurses and other employees in the medical field would not use this deduction for their business mileage. Their travel falls under the category of business travel, which was impacted by the TCJA beginning in 2018.
Unlike the IRS business mileage rate, the TCJA did not affect the 2019 medical mileage rate and its 2018 iteration. However, the medical mileage deduction must reach a certain threshold. That threshold is the percentage of your adjusted-gross-income (AGI), which sits at 7.5% if you’re employed and below the age of 65 and 10% if you’re above the age of 65. How do you know that your medical mileage has reached this threshold?
Unless you have a mileage tracker app, the easiest way to capture the mileage will be making note of information mandatory for IRS compliance. After some simple math (subtract the odometer before your trip by the odometer reading after your trip), you’ll have your miles… for one trip. Keep in mind, if your medical trip is part of a series of other trips, the miles you drive to and from your medical necessities are the only ones that apply to your medical mileage.
While medical mileage may seem straightforward, there are further stipulations to remove miles from qualifying. For example, if you’re making a trip to arrange for a future visit, that trip does not count toward your medical mileage. However, if you were involved in a serious accident that required an ambulance, those services contribute to your medical mileage.
That depends on your situation. Are you only visiting the dentist twice a year, and a physical check up with a general practitioner? Your medical mileage likely doesn’t add up to that AGI percentage.
Do you have a chronic illness or pain that requires frequent visits to specialists, perhaps multiple clinics and prescription refills at least once a month? If anyone knows how quickly those costs add up, it’s you. And every little thing you can do to offset those costs is going to help. With that in mind, tracking medical mileage is probably the right choice.
If you’re curious to know which of your medical expenses—mileage related or otherwise—are deductible, this IRS survey should help you find the answer.