The bill passed on Nov. 16 by the U.S. House of Representatives would eliminate a valuable deduction used by millions of people, including thousands with spinal cord injury, who face high medical bills.This allows taxpayers to deduct medical expenses for themselves and dependents that exceed more than 10 percent of their adjusted gross income.
About nine million people used the medical expense deduction in 2015 (the latest year information is available), claiming an estimated $87 billion in deductions.
This means that those who utilized the deduction — it’s only available to taxpayers who itemize their deductions — have extraordinarily high out-of-pocket health care costs. Additionally, many disabled Americans who file their own taxes may not realize the deduction even exists and, therefore, have not taken advantage of it.
For those who utilize it, however, the deduction is incredibly important to ensuring their financial well-being. The majority of those who claim the deduction have incomes of less than $75,000. They’re also the most vulnerable Americans: people already carrying catastrophic medical issues and the accompanying expenses, often with this deduction serving as the only barrier between them and poverty.
Currently, small businesses can get a tax credit — the Disabled Access Credit — on any improvements they make to their facilities to make them more accessible. This credit has been vital for pushing back against (while providing a financial incentive to) businesses that claim it’s too expensive to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), despite having more than 26 years to become compliant.
The House bill eliminates this credit. Even worse, it comes on the heels of the House introducing legislation that would weaken the rights afforded by the ADA.