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Tax Deductions for Exercise Equipment

The Federal Government often uses the IRS and tax deductions or tax credits to promote social concerns. Obesity is a serious health problem in the United States, so should we be getting tax deductions for Exercise Equipment?

Actually, the Federal Government has made obesity one of those social concerns that taxation can help address. They have done this by allowing liberal tax deductions for treatments and programs designed to combat obesity. These tax deductions are considered medical expenses and are included as such on your tax returns. They are subject to the 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limitation. So, is there a tax deduction then for exercise equipment?

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Well, the catch to the obesity and weight control medical expense deduction is that there must be a doctor’s order involved. A doctor must have given you a written order to engage in whatever activity was required to reduce weight. A doctor will normally do this if he considers your weight to present a health risk. It is not impossible that the doctor would request that you increase your exercise rate and might order the use of certain exercise equipment.

Since the 7.5% limitations means that someone making an income of $50,000 would be able to claim up to $3750 in medical deductions, there is certainly room for some nice exercise equipment. However, the doctor’s order must be specific that this type of exercise is needed to reduce weight. Merely exercising to maintain a healthy lifestyle would not qualify as a medical expense, despite the wisdom of doing so.

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If you are a business owner, section 132 (h) of the Tax Code would allow you to purchase exercise equipment for the use of your employees and this would be an allowable business expense. Your employees would include yourself, of course, and this is a good way to write off the cost of some nice Nautilus exercise equipment. There are many tax advantages to business ownership. The individual taxpayer is not able to take advantage of this though and the requirement that the exercise or diet or any other weight reduction treatment be doctor ordered is essential.

There are some writers who have made the point that if the Government is really concerned with the health and prevention of obesity and see it as a National problem, they should be giving tax breaks and deductions to reward those you are preventing the problem by living healthy lifestyles, or have high metabolism rates. They question why someone must become obese and then seek to correct the condition before they get a tax deduction. While there might be some logic to this argument, we really should not be relying on tax deductions to spur us to make healthy choices.

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