We went to get our taxes done, finally. I have never enjoyed doing my taxes, but now I really don't enjoy it. Because our medical expenses are so high, we itemize everything. Which means going through all of the paperwork and receipts and putting a concrete number to what we have had to spend on what really should be free before you start buying diapers and clothing and all the expenses that come with an actual baby that exists.
We actually end up doing married filing separately, which is almost never something that benefits you, but because of the massive expense that we incur due to infertility actually works in our favor because my salary as a teacher is wicked lower than Bryce's salary as an engineer (of course even though we have the same level of higher education, and mine is required while Bryce's is recommended, and we usually work the same long hours even though I have "summers off."). Also, we have been tremendously blessed with family who are able to and willing to help us out financially, but due to the methods in which those funds are transferred there are wacky tax consequences on our end that muddle our returns (but are so incredibly worth it for the number of cycles we have been able to squeeze into a 2 1/2 year period and the fact that we are not in a tremendous amount of debt given the huge down payments we make on hope, and so we are immensely grateful for the gift).
Last year I managed to make it through the tax appointment, giving out the information without being too overwhelmed or sad. Even when the accountant said, "I can't imagine what people as young as yourselves could be facing to have out of pocket medical expenses this large." We wanted to be like, think about it. Married couple, mid-thirties, no dependents, huge medical expenses... To us it seemed pretty clear. But last year it was a bit of a mystery to the CPA.
This year not so much. This year our costs were a bit lower, because we paid for our second IVF, that took place largely in January, in December 2010. So we had one fresh IVF, one stupid IUI, and one relatively cheapie frozen IVF. Technically speaking, shouldn't be too bad. This time though I was smarter. I also brought all the costs for all the acupuncture, Maya, herbs, and all the other stuff that I did that were associated medical costs related to treatment. Because you can do that, apparently. Seeing it all add up was a bit overwhelming. But then, things finally clicked for our CPA. And she was very nice about it, which always makes me teary eyed. And then she said, "What about mileage or any other associated medical costs, like counseling?" And then I realized that the money we've spent was going to continue to climb and climb and climb. Which is good, for the deductions. But then I thought, "how many times have I gotten in a car and driven to and from appointments related to infertility?" I realized I was going to have to go through not only my calendars, which when we have a cycle going are a mess of ink, but my daily cycle journals, just to be sure I caught all the appointments. I realized that I could also count mileage to and from the hospital for our surgery in August that ended my dreams that I could be a miracle story and my tenuous first pregnancy could turn out all right. And I lost it. Cried all over myself in the accountant's office. The thought of going through all that paperwork was so overwhelming.
But go through it I did. And, including a petty amount of mileage for chiropractic care (which is technically not fertility related, although most definitely medical, and my neck pain is exacerbated by stress which is definitely fertility related, so I'm going to include it in the total here), my total mileage for all the direct and ancillary infertility related medical appointments was
over 1300 miles.
That's like driving to my mother-in-law's house in Maine and back, plus a 200 mile scenic detour. That is SO crazy, considering that only one place that I go regularly is 10 miles away. The rest are between 2-4 miles. I know people who travel a lot farther for appointments. I would be crazy not to claim this on my taxes, especially since it's about $.20 per mile. As my CPA put it, "If the government isn't going to help with insurance coverage for these medical costs, then they really should help out with mileage and the deductions for the cost!!!" I am so hopeful that the bill will pass in Congress to give a tax credit, not tax deductions, for medical expenses associated with IVF since coverage is not mandated and it is a medical treatment for a medical condition. But in the meantime, I will take all the deductions I can. Even if it means flipping through paperwork and journals that remind me of all the heartbreak we've endured over 2011 alone. All the ups and all the down, down, downs.
So, just as a tip from my experience at the tax lady yesterday, if you are going through infertility this is what you can claim (with the obvious disclaimer that I am NOT a CPA or tax professional in any way shape or form and you should absolutely ask your own tax preparation professional about these deductions to make sure they are Kosher for you...):
- any medical expenses that were NOT paid for with an FSA or HSA plan (so I could add several thousand to my total expenses given that I participate in those programs and spend over 90% of it on infertility, but I can't because it was already untaxed. No double dipping allowed, understandably.)
- those medical expenses can include acupuncture appointments, alternative treatments, and counseling as long as your professional is licensed (and it doesn't have to be MSW or Ph.D or psychiatric MD, it can be licensed mental health counselor even if that means your insurance won't cover the service.)
- You can include mileage, and that includes to AND from. (I was told to use Goo.gle Maps for consistency.)
- don't forget all of your prescriptions, too.
- Throw in dentist appointments for fillings, chiropractic care, wellness visits, etc.
- Ask about married filing separately if one of you has a significantly lower salary. Your medical deductions are based on a percentage of your salary, so it can be worth it even if you lose the joint credits by filing that way, if one of your salaries is low enough and your expenses are high enough. It doesn't hurt to ask.
It all adds up. And when you are shelling out so much, every little bit helps.
Reviewing everything was hard, but worth it. It was interesting to see just how much we have done over the year and what we have put into our journey. It's a tremendous investment that so far has been stingy on the returns. But all I can hope is that this time next year we have less medical expenses and one or two big fat tax benefits. Bring on the dependents...