My 92-year-old mother lives with me. It has come
time to add a handicap bathroom to my home; we have only one bath
and it is not feasible to remodel it. She now needs a shower that
she doesn't have to lift her legs to get into, plus she needs bars
to help maintain balance, etc. I am wondering if the cost of the
addition could be a tax deduction for medical purposes.
Assuming you can claim
your mom as your dependent, you may be able to claim part of
the cost of the addition as a medical expense. Internal
Revenue Service Publication 502 provides that you can include
as medical expenses amounts you pay for special equipment installed
in a home, or for improvements, if the main purpose is medical care
for you, your spouse or your dependent.
The cost of permanent
improvements that increase the value of your property may be
partly included as a medical expense. The cost of the improvement
is reduced by the increase in the value of your property. The difference
is a medical expense. If the value of your property is not increased
by the improvement, the entire cost is included as a medical expense.
Certain improvements made to accommodate a home to
your disabled condition, or that of your spouse or your dependents
who live with you, do not usually increase the value of the home
and the cost can be included in full as medical expenses. These
improvements include, but are not limited to, the following items.
Constructing entrance or exit ramps for your home.
Widening doorways at entrances or exits to your
Widening or otherwise modifying hallways and interior
Installing railings, support bars or other modifications
Lowering or modifying kitchen cabinets and equipment.
Moving or modifying electrical outlets and fixtures.
Installing porch lifts and other forms of lifts
(but elevators generally add value to the house).
Modifying fire alarms, smoke detectors and other
Adding handrails or grab bars anywhere (whether
or not in bathrooms).
Modifying hardware on doors.
Modifying areas in front of entrance and exit
Grading the ground to provide access to the residence.
Only reasonable costs to accommodate a home to a disabled
condition are considered medical care. Additional costs for personal
motives, such as for architectural or aesthetic reasons, are not
If the bathroom addition costs $20,000 and adds $10,000
in value to your home, you would be able to claim the remaining
$10,000 cost as a medical expense. Since medical expenses are only
deductible if they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income,
you may want to take the opportunity in the year of improvement
your deductions by paying for other medical expenses that are
not reimbursable for you and your family (i.e., dentistry or the
other items listed above).
You also would want to make sure that you pay the
contractor for the improvement in full in one year so that you can
group the deduction in that year rather than have to spread it over