Deducting exercise equipment

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Dear Tax Talk,
I have extremely flat feet, which is resulting in damage to my knees and hips. While this limits my ability to walk, it does not limit my ability to use a bicycle. My physician has suggested that I purchase an exercycle for use in my home. He is willing to write me an order for this equipment. Since my total medical expenses will exceed 7.5 percent of my income, can I obtain a tax deduction for the Exercycle? Can I use money from my medical flexible spending account to pay for the exercycle?
— Donald

Dear Donald,
Medical expenses are the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body. They include the costs of equipment, supplies and diagnostic devices needed for these purposes.

When you think of medical equipment, you generally think of crutches, wheelchairs or oxygen equipment. However, having been in physical therapy myself, I know it can include stationary bikes and treadmills.

If the bike alleviates damage to your hips and knees by, I assume, strengthening them, and your doctor prescribes it, then I don’t believe there is anything in the IRS’ rules that would preclude your deduction. You may also be able to use your doctor’s recommendation to get out of paying your state sales tax on the purchase.

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