Tax Benefits for A Home with Medically-Related Improvements

Tax Benefits for A Home with Medically-Related Improvements

Are the costs of medically-related home improvements deductible when the home is sold?


According to the Social Security Administration, 10,000 baby boomers a day are reaching the age of 65, as of 2018 16% of Americans were age 65 or older, and by 2030 all boomers will be at least 65. Boomers aren’t the only reason the nation’s overall population is aging – people are living longer due partly to better health care (even though deaths from COVID-19 have lowered life expectancy projections).

The CDC has stated that falls are the leading cause of injuries among people age 65 and older, and nearly 30% of older adults reported falling at least once in the preceding 12 months. To help minimize falls, and to accommodate age-related infirmities, many people are adding grab bars in showers, modifying stairways, widening hallways to accommodate a wheelchair, and other projects to make the home safer and more accessible for older occupants. If you are planning to make such home improvements, you may be eligible to include the costs as a medical expense for income tax purposes.


See Relax Tax’s Amending a Tax Return at


Does medically-related improvements increase the value of a home?

Generally, the costs of home improvements are not deductible except to offset home gain when the home is sold. But a medical expense deduction may be claimed when the primary purpose of the home modification is for a medical reason. The tax law says that deductible medical expenses are those paid for the “diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body.”

So, if you are making the modification because you, your spouse, or a dependent has a medical need for doing so, then the modification expense may be deductible as a medical expense, but only to the extent that it exceeds any resulting increase in the property’s value.

Example: A doctor recommends that his patient with severe arthritis have daily hydrotherapy, and so the individual has a hot tub installed at a cost of $21,000. The individual then hires a certified home appraiser to determine how much the hot tub addition increased the home’s value. The appraiser concludes the increase is $20,000. The individual’s medical deduction for the year the hot tub is installed will be limited to $1,000 ($21,000 - $20,000). The other $20,000 of expenses will increase the home’s basis, meaning that it will add to the home’s cost and will offset the sales price when the home is sold.


Does this sound too complicated? Dennis Harabin at Relax Tax makes it easy to understand.


Even though a prescription from a doctor for most medically related home modifications isn’t required, the taxpayer, if questioned by the IRS, needs to be able to demonstrate how the expenditure relates to his or her medical care or that of a spouse or dependent. And having a letter from the individual’s doctor that explains the type of modifications that would be medically beneficial would help to prove a medical need.

Not all improvements result in an increased home value. In fact, some, such as lowering cabinets for an occupant confined to a wheelchair, could actually decrease the home’s resale value.  


See this related post from Rachele DeCrescenzo and Karen Sammer: Things you can do NOW to Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
Just start moving more and stretching a little bit outside of your normal movements, outside of your stairs, up and down, out of bed, up and out of your car. Try to explore your body a little bit more, move it and just see what feels tight and where you can really sink in and open up your facial system a little bit more. It's never too late to start taking care of your health and body.



Home improvements result in an increased home value. But there are some improvements that could actually decrease the home’s resale value.



The IRS has identified certain improvements that don’t usually increase a home’s value but for which the full cost can be included as a medical expense. These improvements include, but are not limited to, the following items:

  • Constructing entrance or exit ramps for the home;
  • Widening doorways at entrances or exits to the home;
  • Widening or otherwise modifying hallways and interior doorways;
  • 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 generally not elevators);
  • Modifying fire alarms, smoke detectors, and other warning systems;
  • Modifying stairways;
  • Adding handrails or grab bars anywhere (whether or not in bathrooms);
  • Modifying hardware on doors;
  • Modifying areas in front of entrance and exit doorways; and
  • Grading the ground to provide access to the residence.


Only reasonable costs to accommodate a home to a disabled condition or to an elderly individual are considered medical care costs. Additional costs for personal preferences, such as for architectural or aesthetic reasons, are not medical expenses (but could be additions to the home’s tax basis).



See this related post from Dennis Harabin: The Benefits of Filing for a Tax Return
These days the tax return is used for more than just collecting taxes. It has also become a tool for the government to provide social benefits. This article discusses the various reasons and resulting benefits available to you when you file, even if you are not required to, as you may be eligible for a refund of withholding or estimated payments or a refund as a result of a refundable tax credit or even a stimulus payment that you didn’t previously receive. Here are some of the possibilities.


Unfortunately, the total of all medical expenses can be deducted only to the extent that they exceed 7.5% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI) and only if the taxpayer itemizes deductions. With the current high value of the standard deductions, fewer than 15% of taxpayers are expected to itemize their deductions in the years through 2025, down from 30% prior to 2018 when the standard deduction amounts were last changed. So even if a medically needed home improvement is made and qualifies to be deducted, only a small percentage of taxpayers will end up with a tax benefit as a result of the expenditure.

All is not lost, though. To the extent that the taxpayer doesn’t claim the expense as an itemized deduction, the improvement costs, including those that might not meet the medically necessary standard, can be added to the home’s purchase cost to determine the home’s tax basis. Thus, when the home is sold, the capital gain from the sale will be lower.

Either to substantiate the currently deductible improvements or with a future home sale in mind, taxpayers should be sure to keep records of the home improvements they make, including the receipts for the costs.

If you have questions related to this deduction and whether you will benefit, tax-wise, from any medically related home modifications, please call this office at 551-249-1040 or contact Dennis Harabin at Relax Tax.



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