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Losing weight could mean tax break

Losing weight could mean tax break

From Brooks Jackson

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Your diet may be deductible, the nation's tax collectors say.

The Internal Revenue Service issued a ruling Tuesday saying that fees paid for weight-loss programs -- when ordered by a physician as a treatment for disease such as obesity or high blood pressure -- qualify as a medical deduction.

But the cost of diet foods is not deductible, nor are fees paid for weight-loss programs merely to improve appearance or general health.

The IRS said diet foods merely substitute for other food that taxpayers would normally buy, and food in general is not deductible.

As a practical matter, the ruling will reduce taxes only for a few. Only 4.6 percent of tax returns currently list medical expenses large enough to reduce the taxpayer's tax bill. Medical expenses in general are deductible only to the extent that they exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.

The IRS had no immediate estimate of how many additional taxpayers might reach that level by adding diet-program fees to other medical expenses.


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