Could a Gluten-Free Diet Earn You a Tax Break?

tax formsDid you know that if you have celiac disease, you could get a tax deduction for eating gluten-free? It turns out that eating gluten-free is considered a medical expense for those with an official celiac diagnosis. Eating gluten-free costs an estimated $1,000-$2,000 more per year than a contemporary diet, and when you consider the millions of Americans who live with celiac disease, it comes as no surprise that the gluten-free industry is projected to see over $15 billion in sales in the year 2015 alone. The gluten-free lifestyle may cost more, but come tax season, people with celiac disease may deduct expenses related to eating gluten-free, provided that it costs more than 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.

What’s Deductible?

Taxpayers and their children with celiac disease will receive a tax deduction for the difference paid between a gluten-free food and its cheaper wheat counterpart. For example, that extra $3.00 paid for a box of gluten-free crackers (as opposed to Wheat Thins) may be deducted for every box you buy that fiscal year. Other deductible items include sorghum, buckwheat, tapioca and other wheat flour substitutions, as well as gluten-free pasta, desserts and foods purchased at gluten-free baking establishments.

Taxpayers may also deduct any transportation costs involved in getting gluten-free food. This includes the postage and shipping costs for foods purchased online, and the gas used to drive to and from the store to pick up gluten-free goods. As of 2013, the deduction for driving is 24 cents for each mile.

How to Receive your Gluten-Free Tax Break

1)      In order to receive the deduction for eating gluten-free, you must first get an official, written diagnosis from a licensed physician. A copy must then be submitted along with other tax forms at the end of the year.

2)      Keep all itemized receipts from any gluten-free foods purchased over the year, including items such as xanthan gum, gluten-free baked goods and baking mixes, and gluten-free snacks. When calculating the difference in price, make sure to keep a schedule. In the event of an audit, you will need to submit it as well. Don’t forget to save receipts of shipping and transportation costs.

3)      While filling out taxes, a taxpayer must fill out the 1040 form, schedule A, which is for medical deductions. Consider enlisting the help of an accountant during the filing process for more information or if you have any specific questions.

4)      In the case that an auditor states that your gluten-free foods and associated costs are not deductible, refer them to these references: IRS Publication 502, Revenue Ruling 55-261, Revenue Ruling 76-80, Cohen 38 TC 387, 67 TC 481, Fleming TC MEMO 1980 583, Van Kalb TC MEMO 1978 366.

Deductions for Celiac Education Costs

Not only can people with celiac disease deduct the cost of purchasing and transporting gluten-free foods, they can also deduct the costs of attending celiac disease conferences. This deduction, however, only applies to the cost of admission, not lodging or transportation.

Please keep in mind that all information presented here, while believed to be correct, is not suitable or intended as tax advice. Before filing, consider consulting an accountant.

The extra costs of eating a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease can really add up over time, placing a financial burden on families who already have to deal with the extra medical costs associated with celiac disease. Getting a tax break, however, helps mitigate these costs. After all, eating gluten-free is the only kind of medicine there is for celiac disease.


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