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Are these tax-deductible medical expenses?

Posted 24 January 2013 under Tax Questions

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1. Eyeglasses (frames & lenses) and the preceding eye test at Spec-Savers.-- If so, would this fall under "impairment" or general medical expenditure?-- If you then purchase new frames & lenses, is it again tax-deductible?2. "Cosmetic" surgery (the removal of moles, to be more specific).

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TaxTimTaxTim says:
28 January 2013 at 11:07

Only expenditure on "qualifying medical expenditure" can be claimed. That is to say anything which was specifically prescribed by a doctor or similar health care professional, but your medical aid wouldn't pay for it because it did not form part of your scheme or there were no funds available for payment.

TaxTimTaxTim says:
28 January 2013 at 12:35

Yes an optometrist would qualify as a health care professional. The difficulty with impairment is that it is not defined clearly in the Tax Act:

2.1 Disability
The term “disability” is defined in section 18(3) of the Act as follows -
“disability” means a moderate to severe limitation of a person's ability to function or perform daily activities as a result of a physical, sensory, communication, intellectual or mental impairment, if the limitation-
(a) has lasted or has a prognosis of lasting more than a year; and
(b) is diagnosed by a duly registered medical practitioner in accordance with criteria prescribed by the Commissioner.
2.2 Physical impairment
The term “physical impairment” is not defined in the Act. However, in the context of section 18(1)(d) of the Act it has been interpreted as a disability that is less restraining than a “disability” as defined. This means the restriction on the person's ability to function or perform daily activities after maximum correction is less than a “moderate to severe limitation”. Maximum correction in this context means appropriate therapy, medication and use of devices.

So you would need to demonstrate that your wearing of glasses is due to a minor form of disability then you can claim this under impairment.

However you are still entitled to claim the expenses for the glasses under normal medical expenditure claims, although this will be subject to certain tax thresholds and you may not receive the full deduction.

Regarding the mole removal, you can go ahead and claim this medical expense, SARS will choose whether or not to interpret this how they see fit, but allowances are often made in these situations. So it would be worth making the claim.

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