Tax relief on medical expenses

Introduction

If you pay medical expenses that are not covered by the State or by private health insurance, you can claim tax back on some of those expenses. These expenses include the costs involved in nursing home care.

Tax relief is also available for premiums paid for health insurance and for long-term care insurance. The insurance company grants this tax relief at source.

You can only claim tax back on health expenses if you are a taxpayer.

Medical expenses

You can claim tax relief on medical expenses you pay for yourself or for any other person. You can claim tax back only if you cannot recover the expenses from any other source. You cannot claim tax back for amounts already received or due to be received from:

  • A public or local authority, for example, the HSE (Health Service Authority)
  • An insurance policy
  • Any other source, for example, compensation

You can claim tax relief on:

  • Costs of doctors and consultants fees
  • Items or treatments prescribed by a doctor or consultant
  • Maintenance or treatment in a hospital, treatment facility (such as a clinic) or a nursing home
  • Cost of employing a qualified nurse at home
  • Costs of speech and language therapy carried out by a speech and language therapist for a qualifying child
  • Transport by ambulance
  • Costs of educational psychological assessments carried out by an educational psychologist for a qualifying child
  • Treatment from a psychologist or psychotherapist
  • Acupuncture
  • Certain items of expenditure for a child suffering from a serious life threatening illness
  • Kidney patients' expenses (up to a maximum amount depending on whether the patient uses hospital dialysis, home dialysis or CAPD)
  • Specialised dental treatment
  • Routine maternity care
  • In-vitro fertilisation

The following also qualify for tax relief if they are prescribed by a doctor:

  • Drugs and medicines
  • Diagnostic procedures
  • Orthoptic or similar treatment (for example, treatments for squints and eye movement disorders)
  • Hearing aids
  • Orthopaedic bed or chair
  • Wheelchair or wheelchair lift (no relief is due for alteration to the building to facilitate a lift)
  • Glucometer machine for a diabetic
  • Engaging a qualified nurse in the case of a serious illness
  • Physiotherapy, chiropody/podiatry services or similar treatment
  • Cost of a computer where there is medical evidence that it is necessary to help a person with a severe disability to communicate
  • Cost of gluten-free food for people with coeliac disease and diabetic products for people with diabetes. Instead of a prescription, you can use a letter from a doctor stating that you have coeliac disease or diabetes. You can use receipts from supermarkets or chemists.

Note: These lists are not exhaustive. Revenue add to the list of treatments and appliances that you can get tax relief on from time to time. If you are undergoing a new procedure or availing of a new appliance, it is worth checking whether you can claim tax relief. For more information, see the Revenue website.

You cannot claim relief for cosmetic surgery costs, unless you need the surgery as a result of a congenital abnormality, personal injury or disease.

Long-term care insurance

There is a tax credit for payments to long-term care insurance schemes. This operates in the same way as the health insurance tax credit.

Travelling abroad for treatment

You can claim tax relief on the cost of medical treatment you get outside Ireland (treatment abroad). If the treatment abroad is available in Ireland you cannot claim travelling expenses for this care.

If the qualifying health care is only available outside Ireland, you can also claim reasonable travel and accommodation expenses. The expenses of one person accompanying the patient may also be allowed if the condition of the patient requires it. If the patient is a child, the expenses of one parent are usually allowed and, exceptionally, of both parents where it is clear that both need to be with the child.

The practitioner (GP, consultant or dentist) who provides your care must be entitled to practice in the country where the care is provided.

You can only claim for the cost of maintenance or treatment in a hospital, nursing home or clinic abroad if the hospital, nursing home or clinic provides access to 24-hour nursing on-site.

Dental and optical treatment

You cannot get tax relief for routine ophthalmic and dental care. Routine ophthalmic treatment covers sight testing, provision and maintenance of glasses and contact lenses. You can get tax relief for orthoptic or similar treatment where prescribed by a doctor. Routine dental treatment covers extractions, scaling and filling of teeth and provision and repairing of artificial teeth and dentures.

The following dental treatments do qualify for tax relief:

  • Crowns
  • Veneers/Rembrandt type etched fillings
  • Tip replacing
  • Gold posts
  • Gold inlays
  • Endodontics (root canal treatment)
  • Periodontal treatment
  • Orthodontic treatment (braces and related treatments)
  • Surgical extraction of impacted wisdom teeth: this qualifies for tax relief when it is undertaken in hospital
  • Bridgework

Nursing home payments

Maintenance or treatment in a hospital includes maintenance or treatment in a nursing home. If you are paying the nursing home fees, you can get the tax relief - whether you are in the nursing home yourself or you are paying for another person to be there.

You can claim this relief at your highest rate of tax if the nursing home provides 24-hour on-site nursing care. This means that the amount of the fees you pay is deducted from the total amount of your income. This reduces the amount of your income that is taken into account for tax. Revenue provides examples of tax relief on nursing home expenses.

Home nursing

You can claim relief on the cost of employing a qualified nurse at home at the standard rate of 20%. See the Revenue website for more information on employing a qualified nurse in the home.

Children with permanent disabilities or who have cancer

In the case of children receiving treatment for cancer (that is, child oncology patients) and children with permanent disabilities, you can claim tax relief on the following as health expenses.

Telephone: Where a child oncology patient or a child with a permanent disability is being treated at home, you can claim a flat rate payment to cover telephone rental and calls where those expenses are directly connected with the treatment.

Overnight accommodation: Tax relief is also allowable for parents or guardians where the child needs to stay overnight in a hospital as part of their treatment and the parent or guardian is required to stay nearby. Relief is allowable on payments for accomodation to the hospital and/or a hotel or bed-and-breakfast near the hospital.

Travel: The cost of travelling to and from hospital, for the patient and their parents or guardians, for trips essential to the treatment of the child. There is a mileage allowance if you use a private car.

Hygiene products and special clothing: Tax relief is also allowed for parents or guardians for the cost of hygiene products and special clothing for the child. This is subject to a maximum of €500 per year.

Kidney patients

Tax relief is granted under specific headings for certain expenses of kidney patients. The amount of relief depends on where the patient receives care (for example, in hospital or at home).

For home dialysis and CAPD, you may claim tax relief on items such as electricity, telephone, laundry and travel expenses. Read more about kidney patients and tax relief on medical expenses on revenue.ie.

Health insurance

If you have health insurance, you can get tax relief on the premium you pay to an approved insurer.

You do not need to claim the relief – it is given as a reduction in the amount of the insurance premium you pay. This is known as Tax Relief at Source (TRS).

However, in some situations TRS does not apply, for example, where an employer pays the medical insurance premiums on behalf of an employee. This is treated as a Benefit in Kind and tax (PAYE, PRSI and USC) is due on the total amount. This means that the employee does not get the Tax Relief at Source on the insurance premium and so the employee can make a claim directly to Revenue. You can get examples of how tax relief is applied where medical insurance premiums are paid directly by employers on Revenue's website.

The relief is given at the rate of 20% of the cost, up to a maximum of €1,000 per adult and €500 per child. A child is someone under 21 years of age that a child premium has been paid for.

Rates

Tax relief on medical and health expenses is given at the standard rate of 20%.

However, tax relief on nursing home expenses can be claimed at your highest rate of tax. This means that the portion of your income which is taxable at your highest rate of tax is reduced.

How to apply

You do not need to do anything about tax relief for health insurance or long-term care insurance because the credits are granted automatically at source and included in the amount you pay.

You must apply separately for medical expenses relief. You can only claim for medical expenses if you have receipts to prove your claim. For dental expenses, you dentist should complete Form Med 2 (pdf) for you to use as a receipt.

You can claim tax relief online using Revenue's myAccount service.

Revenue's myAccount service includes a receipts tracker service which allows you to store your receipt details online. If you use this service, you can claim tax relief under the Real Time Credit service. This means that you can claim for health expenses and nursing home expenses when you pay them and get increased tax credits in your next payroll payment from your employer. You can make a Real Time Credit claim using myAccount.

If you don't use the receipt tracker, you must keep your medical receipts for 6 years because Revenue may investigate your claim.

You can also claim medical expenses relief offline by completing a paper Form 12 (pdf), or a Form 12S (pdf) (a simplified version for routine tax returns) and returning it to your Revenue office. You can request a Form 12 or a Form 12S by calling Revenue at (01) 738 3675. Alternatively, you can email your details to custform@revenue.ie.

Relief is given by a repayment at the end of the year. The time limit on claims for repayment of tax is four years.

Additional information is available on the Revenue website or from PAYE Lo-call service.

Page edited: 8 December 2021