IRS Deductions for Smoking Cessation

IRS Allows Deductions For Smoking Cessation
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Smokescreen Commentary
TAX CUTS FOR SMOKERS — Here’s a message for decision makers who think the danger of tobacco use is overplayed: The Internal Revenue Service thinks tobacco is so deadly and so addictive that the agency is voluntarily giving up money to help solve the problem. That’s right, the IRS has decided that the evidence regarding nicotine’s addictive properties is so strong that taxpayers should be allowed to deduct the cost of cessation programs and prescription drugs as medical expenses.

IRS Allows Some Deductions For Smoking Cessation
On Thursday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reversed a 20-year-old position by allowing smokers who participate in cessation programs to itemize the service as a medical expense. Having analyzed data provided by the Surgeon General since 1988, the IRS concluded: “Nicotine, a substance common to all forms of tobacco, is a powerfully addictive drug.” Attempts to combat nicotine addiction will now be tax deductible just as alcoholism and drug addiction are.

The law is specific about what is considered a deductible expense. Over-the-counter medications such as the nicotine patch and gum are not covered. In addition, an individual’s medical expenses, not restricted to smoking, must total at least 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income to qualify. The hope among some doctors is that the law will influence health care providers to include anti-smoking programs in their coverage. Dr. Michael Eriksen, director of smoking and health at the Centers for Disease Control, said, “It’s the right thing to do in terms of the dollar invested and the dollar saved.

Curt Anderson, “IRS Allows Smokers Some Deductions,” ASSOCIATED PRESS, June 10, 1999.

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