Pain in the Back

Today TaxMama hears from Mark in Scarborough, ME, who’s quite logical: “I’m self-employed and incorporated. I need frequent chiropractic treatments as a direct result of using computers a lot. The frequency of treatments required varies directly with amount of daily work at the computer. The back problems are caused by my work (chronic back fatigue). The treatments are necessary for me to continue my work. Therefore I view this as a direct business expense, and I want to account for it as such. Is the IRS likely to allow this, assuming I can document all the above?”


Dear Mark,

Actually, while it sounds good – probably not.

You may have to do some research or write to IRS to get a private letter ruling.

In general, in IRS audits, the auditors tend to reject those expenses. I have had clients with even more obvious need for regular chiropractic and/or medical care than you – like a wrestling announcer who is regularly and literally tossed around the ring by the friendly wrestlers.

The only reason I didn’t fight the auditors’ determination is that, when I got to the audit, I had enough other expenses to add his tax return, to still end up with a ‘no change’ audit.

I have had this kind of issue come up repeatedly. (But I always have something in my bag to replace those costs when I get to the audit.)

Let’s face it, looking at the expenses from your side – if you were and employer, and your employees suffered these problems, and you paid for their medical care, it would be deductible, wouldn’t it?

So, I would take the deduction and you fight for the issue if you get audit. But, that’s just me.

You decide how to handle it. It’s all about substantiation.

In the meantime, change the chair you use, the height of your monitor and keyboard. And remember to get up and stretch your back and limber up your fingers about once every hour or so. It will help a great deal.

And remember, you’ll find answers to lots of business and other tax information, free. Where? At TaxMama.com

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