Donya Currie is the editor of The Free Lance-Star's Healthy Life section and Healthy Life Virginia newsletter.

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Taxes and your health

It’s hard to think of a single way that doing your taxes is good for you, other than the obvious — that it keeps the IRS off your back. The stress, the number-crunching, the digging out receipts — no fun. But tax time can give you the opportunity to deduct some of what you’ve spent on medical and dental bills, under certain circumstances.

Mind you, you have to have pretty significant medical expenses to qualify. But if you were hit with a major illness or accident or had costs from recurrent health issues during 2011, it’s worth exploring the possibility of getting a bit of a tax break.

A key stumbling block to qualifying for the medical/dental deduction: The deduction, the IRS says, “is limited. You can deduct total medical care expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income for the year.”

So, if 7.5 percent of your income equals $4,000, for example, and your expenses totalled $3,500, you can’t deduct them.

If you do qualify, you may be able to deduct  not just the cost of things like medicines and tests, but also the cost of driving (or taking a bus, train, taxi, etc) to your doctor’s office or hospital.

I’m definitely not an accountant, so to see if you qualify and to get more information about medical and dental deductions, either consult a tax expert or visit,,id=254267,00.html. Or go to and type in “Eight Things to Know about Medical and Dental Expenses and Your Taxes.”