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IRS will now allow deduction for going to medical meeting

Conferences may be just what the doctor ordered

SHARE IRS will now allow deduction for going to medical meeting

Now you can deduct certain costs of attending a medical conference.

A new Internal Revenue Service ruling approved deducting some expenses of a mother attending a medical conference related to her child's chronic disease. The theory of the ruling would also apply if she goes for her own illness.

The parent, on advice of her child's doctor, attended an out-of-town conference sponsored by a group that supports research and education. She went to some social functions, but that wasn't the trip's main purpose. Even though meals and lodging weren't allowed, the mother got a medical deduction for transportation and conference fees.

Another ruling, however, denied transportation and conference fees where the main purpose seemed less medical and more social.

The patient booked passage on a cruise his doctor recommended where various medical experts were available. They provided services including instructions on managing the illness.

Because all services on board ship were available in the taxpayer's hometown, the IRS limited deductions to payments for reviewing records, performing tests and reporting to the patient's physician.

The favorable ruling is timely because today's fast-paced medical research brings new answers almost daily. It can be important to have access to information a local physician can't always provide.

The ruling will save more taxes for some taxpayers than others. If you itemize medical expenses, it may have limited advantage. In general, you deduct itemized medical costs only to the extent unreimbursed expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.

In some cases this would be no deduction at all. But if you have a medical saving account or if you participate in an employer health plan that pays expenses like these, the limitations don't apply. So if your transportation and conference fees were $1,000, the effect would be a $1,000 reduction in taxable income.

The moral: Deductions for medical conferences are just what the doctor ordered.