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Don't miss important tax deductions
Senior moments
Rich DeLong is the executive director of Station Exchange Senior Care. - photo by File photo

I’m not a tax expert by any means. In fact, between all the cold weather, lack of adequate amounts of warm sunshine, and the looming tax return season — this is, no doubt, my least favorite time of year. But this will be an important year for completing my mother’s tax return, as we had to make some financial decisions regarding her ability to continue to pay for her monthly care.

So, instead of sleeping at a Holiday Inn Express and then faking my ability to write about this stuff, I found an article written by Lori Johnston, a contributing writer for What follows below are excerpts from her article regarding tax deductions. Hopefully you will find this information helpful.

Of course, it is best to solicit the expertise of a trusted accountant if you want to capitalize on as many tax deductions as possible. Read on, my friends!

Nearly 100 medical costs can be deducted, related to the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of disease or costs for treating any part of the body. Those include equipment, services and supplies, ranging from glasses to eye surgery to acupuncture to prescriptions. Even artificial limbs, bandages, hearing aids and wigs are accepted medical expenses (for others, see IRS Publication 502).

An often-missed expense is the amount paid for long-term care services and long-term care insurance (that’s a more limited deduction, depending on age). Rehabilitation, therapeutic, preventative and personal-care services are among those that qualify as long-term care services, if your family member is chronically ill and if it’s part of a plan set by a health-care practitioner. Someone is considered chronically ill if they can’t perform at least two activities of daily living (such as eating, toileting, bathing and dressing) without substantial assistance from someone else.

From weekly doctor’s appointments to out-of-town visits with a specialist or for a procedure, the miles you log for your parents’ medical needs can be deducted. “You can take that if they qualify as your dependent. Keep a log as you’re running around,” says Mary Beth Saylor, a CPA and tax principal with Windham Brannon, an Atlanta-based accounting firm.

Investing in ramps for a wheelchair-bound parent, handrails and grab bars in the bathroom or a step-less shower can be part of a deduction. It doesn’t matter if the improvements are in your home or your parents’ home, as long as it doesn’t add value to the house, Saylor says. The IRS says the cost of the improvement is reduced by the increase in your property value. Other changes, such as widening doorways and hallways, lowering kitchen cabinets and installing lifts, also typically do not add value to houses.

If you are paying interest on your or your parents’ home loans, construction loans or home equity lines of credit, it’s deductible. There are some limitations, though, so you need to discuss with your accountant.

Of course, you may know to estimate the value of items you or your parents donate to charity. But you also can include other out-of-pocket costs related to volunteering. If you or your parents bought ingredients to make meals for the homeless or elderly, or if you drove a personal vehicle while volunteering or assisting a charity, those and other costs can be deducted.

Call DeLong at 912-531-7867 or email him at

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