Deduct medical expenses from your taxes: This is how it works

Not every health insurance company covers the cost of contact lenses or innovative treatments. But in some cases it is possible to deduct medical expenses from your taxes. In this article, we explain what you need to know and how you can report medical expenses on your tax return.

Medizinisch geprüft - Siegel
reviewed by our insurance experts

Table of contents:

When can I deduct medical expenses for tax purposes?

Medical expenses are considered an extraordinary burden. This means that you can claim your special expenses in your income tax return if they exceed a certain amount. Where the limit lies varies from case to case. After all, not everyone has the same amount of money at their disposal: a childless management consultant can put away high special expenses better than a single mother with three children.

What is the reasonable burden for medical expenses?

How much the legislator expects you to pay in medical expenses depends on how much you earn, whether you are married and whether you have children. The following table gives a first impression:

Income (in euros)

Single without children

Married without children (joint assessment)

1 - 2 children;

3 children or more

< 15.340

5 %

4 %

2 %; 1 %

15.351 – 51.130

6 %

5 %

3 %; 1 %

> 51.130

7 %

6 %

4 %; 2 %

Income includes not only wages, but also rental income or chapter income. In the case of married couples, the income of both partners are added together.

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The table serves only as an initial guide. This is because the calculation is somewhat more complicated in order not to disadvantage people at threshold values. For example, someone who earns 51,200 euros would be treated the same for tax purposes as someone who earns a significantly higher salary of 120,000 euros if the table were applied rigidly. To cushion this disadvantage, the tax office calculates the actual limit of the extraordinary burden in stages. We show you how it works.

A calculation example:

Let's say you are a childless single and earn 65,000 euros. This means that you can "take" the first step of the table. 5% of 15,340 euros will be taken into account completely.

5 % of 15,340 euros = 767 euros

The second stage is also completely offset, but of course minus the income already recognized.

51,130 Euro - 15,340 Euro = 35,790 Euro

6 % of 35.790 Euro = 2.147,40 Euro

Now we have reached the third stage. The already calculated income will be deducted again.

65.000 Euro - 51.130 Euro = 13.870 Euro

7 % of 13.870 Euro = 970, 90 Euro

All together (767 Euro + 2.147,40 Euro + 970, 90 Euro) we now come to 3.885,30 Euro. From this amount, our childless single can therefore claim his medical expenses for tax purposes.

Our tip:

If you don't feel like doing the math but still want to know what you can deduct in your tax return, you can use the tax office's tool.

As you can see: a lot has to come together before you can count on a tax advantage. And even then, you have to bear all costs below the limit yourself. So if our childless single person has to pay an impressive 4,500 euros in medical expenses per year, he can only claim 614.70 euros as an extraordinary expense.

It is also important to know which services count as special expenses for tax purposes. This is because not all medical expenses are recognized.

Which medical expenses are tax deductible?

Here is an excerpt of the most important services that you can deduct from your taxes:

  • Vaccinations
  • Physiotherapy
  • glasses or contact lenses
  • artificial insemination
  • braces or retainers
  • dental treatment
  • homeopathy
  • phytotherapy
  • Ayurvedic treatment
  • Acupuncture
  • oxygen therapy
  • antroposophic medicine
  • birth of a child (doctor, hospital, medication)
  • hair loss
  • Speech therapy
  • prescribed medicines
  • Smoking cessation
  • Addiction treatment
  • AIDS treatment
  • aids such as wheelchairs, prostheses and hearing aids
  • travel expenses due to illness (30 cents per kilometer for car trips)
  • Hospitalization (self-pay amount)
  • Accompaniment of a sick child
  • medical cures
  • dyslexia
  • Medical expenses incurred abroad

It is important that your treatment is medically necessary and has been ordered by your treating physician or alternative practitioner. This necessity is only recognized if your therapist has a license.

In the case of disabilities, there are lump sums that you can claim in your tax return instead of the usual medical expenses.

You may also deduct medical expenses from your taxes if your child is ill and you still receive child benefits. It is always the time when you paid the bill that counts.

If your health insurance company has reimbursed at least parts of the expenses, you must deduct this part from the total amount.

When do I need a medical certificate?

A certificate from the public health officer or the medical service of the health insurance companies is required for:

The certificate should prove the medical necessity.

What can I not deduct from tax?

The following are not tax deductible:

What other special expenses can I deduct from my taxes?

Remember that not only medical expenses, but also other special expenses are relevant for tax purposes.

Extraordinary expenses include, for example, costs incurred in a divorce or retraining due to incapacity for work. Home costs incurred by a relative in need of care are also included.

Which special expenses are only deductible from tax to a limited extent and which are unrestricted?

A distinction is made between special and general extraordinary expenses. The latter special expenses are deductible without limitation - you do not have to observe a cap when filing your tax return.

Where do I enter the medical expenses in the tax return?

There is an annex for extraordinary expenses. There you enter all the items that you want to claim. Make sure that you have an invoice for each item so that you can show it if necessary.

You will have to collect several invoices before you reach the magic limit of the reasonable personal expenses. (If you manage it at all.) Many stay under their personal limit year after year and can't deduct lower amounts and medical expenses from their taxes.

Our tip:

If possible, pull as many expenses as you can into the same year. For certain items, such as new glasses, smoking cessation or artificial insemination, there may be some flexibility.

You're wondering what else you can deduct from your taxes? The PKV for example! If you are self-employed, you also have some leeway with advance payments. You can also declare a home office in addition to many other special expenses in your private tax return

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Our ottonova team of experts has over 40 years of experience in private health insurance and answers questions about it every day. What are old-age provisions and for whom does private health insurance make sense? What is the actuarial interest rate and which tariff is right for you? They know!

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