April is here, and along with baseball and soggy weather, it brings tax season. At Zeel, we’re often asked, “is massage tax-deductible?” The answer is: it depends.
There certainly are situations where you can deduct massage on your taxes – but make sure your massages qualify as a tax write-off, or the IRS may have an unpleasant surprise waiting for you.
When are massages not tax-deductible?
You cannot deduct a massage from your taxes if you decided to pay for it with an HSA or FSA account.
According to the IRS, medical expenses paid for with an HSA (health savings account) or FSA (flexible spending account) cannot be deducted – though that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to use HSA/FSA money for a massage, of course.
You also cannot deduct a massage that you received for a non-medical reason, or for a medical reason not officially diagnosed by a medical professional.
There are many valid reasons to get massage that have nothing to do with a specific health issue – massage is great for overall stress relief and relaxation, for example, or to improve running performance with a sports massage. However, while massage can certainly improve your overall physical and mental health by boosting immunity, improving mood, and helping you get better sleep, these reasons are not good enough for the IRS to grant you a deduction.
When can you deduct massages from your taxes?
You may be able to deduct massages from your taxes if you are receiving the massage for a medical reason, with an official diagnosis.
Doctors are recommending massage at increasing rates. In 2016, 17% of all Americans discussed massage with a medical provider, and 63% of those doctors either referred the patient to a massage therapist, or recommended that they seek a medical massage. If a doctor, or other licensed medical practitioner, like a chiropractor, prescribes massage for a physical issue, you may be able to deduct this medical massage on your taxes.
What are some common reasons that doctors prescribe massages?
Doctors may prescribe massages for the following conditions:
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain, or frozen neck syndrome
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Osteoarthritis in the knee
- Cancer fatigue and other complications
Why should you keep your massage therapy receipts?
If you are receiving a massage for medical reasons and would like to deduct it on your taxes, make sure that your massage therapist is currently licensed in his or her state of practice. You should also retain your receipt for each treatment. (If you book an in-home massage with Zeel, you’ll always receive your receipts by email and see your massage therapist’s licensing information.)
Marcy is the SVP of People and Communications at Zeel. In addition to overseeing the humans of Zeel, Marcy has written about workplace topics for more than 20 years both at Zeel and as VP of Content for Vault.com, a career information web site and publisher.