Taxes and Fees

Collins: Senate bill will include medical expense deduction amendment

Greg Nash

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) tweeted Friday that the final Senate tax-reform bill will include an amendment she favors that lowers the threshold at which individuals can deduct qualifying medical expenses.

Collins, a key swing vote who increasingly looks like she’ll back the bill, has been at the center of attention Friday as GOP leaders seek to win over at least 50 of their members.

That’s given leverage to Collins, who has been pressing for a number of changes to the bill.

{mosads}Under current law, the IRS allows individuals to deduct qualified medical expenses only if they exceed 10 percent of a person’s adjusted gross income for the year. The threshold was first increased in 2013 as a way to help pay for ObamaCare.

The amendment from Collins would lower that threshold to 7.5 percent for 2017 and 2018.

“The Senate bill will include my amendment to reduce the threshold for deducting medical expenses, which helps people with high medical costs, particularly seniors & people with chronic conditions,” Collins said on Twitter. “8.8 million Americans use this deduction, half with incomes of $50,000 or less.”

Collins has not yet announced how she will vote on the bill but sounds increasingly positive about it. All four amendments she offered have been added to the bill.

The IRS currently allows individuals to deduct preventative care, treatment, surgeries and dental and vision care as qualifying medical expenses.

The medical expense deduction can also be used for long-term care expenses for chronically ill patients.

The House tax legislation completely eliminated the deduction, however, meaning the issue would have to be dealt with in a conference. 

GOP senators are likely to introduce a manager’s amendment that would incorporate various changes to their legislation, including the ones backed by Collins.

A final Senate vote on the bill could come late Friday.

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