A woman wearing glasses is looking in the direction of a box containing vision aides. The box is coming out of an online 'submit' button with a cursor over it. Below is the symbol for the IRS, and cash flowing in the direction of the woman.


We have now entered the new year. Can tax season be far behind?

I would never have given it much thought, but I have discovered the IRS actually tries to cut us a break in tax season. “Us” is defined as people who are legally blind. Remember legal blindness is defined by the federal government as best corrected vision of 20/200 or less in the better eye or a field of vision of less than 30 degrees of arc also in the better eye.

Tax tips for the visually impaired

Tax Tips for the Blind is published by TurboTax. They update the article yearly to reflect the current state of tax laws as they apply to the visually impaired.

TurboTax tells us we need to be aware of box 39a on the 1040 tax return. This box allows us to get a bigger standard deduction! So far, so good.

Deductible vision-related costs

Those of us who are legally blind are allowed to deduct costs of items and services used to prevent, diagnose, or treat our condition. That means stuff like CCTVs, magnifiers, and software such as text to speech screen readers. It also covers costs of eye shots.

The murky area of supplements

Supplements such as eye vitamins are a murky area. Verywell, in their article Tax Deductibles Nonprescription Drugs or Supplements, states that normally supplements are not deductible unless they have been recommended as treatment by a physician for a specific condition. Very often I have seen supplements such as eye vitamins excluded from the category treatment but other places I have seen them included in the category.

Needing a doctor's recommendation

I also question because eye vitamins were recommended to me as something that “might help”. Considering that AREDS 2 found their vitamin formula to be beneficial for those with only either intermittent AMD in one or both eyes and those with late AND in only one eye, the science says they would not help me at all at this point. I would no longer expect a doctor to recommend them for me even though I continue to take them. Magical thinking, perhaps?

Anyway, I would say check with your doctor to see if he would write you a note saying he recommended them. That way you have something to give to the accountant if he questions.

Some other tips from TurboTax

Back to the TurboTax people, they suggest you might want to file even if you don’t make a lot of money. They say something about qualifying for an earned income tax credit. Huh. No clue but I wanted to make you aware so you can ask someone who actually knows about this sort of thing.

Qualifying under the disabled category

Now we come to the section headed credit for the elderly and the disabled. If you are trying to qualify under the disabled category, the article states you had to be forced to retire before retirement age and you have to be getting some sort of disability income. If you retired because of vision loss, for example, and are getting corporate or government payments, you can get your owed tax amount lowered.

So, that is pretty much that. Take a look at that box 39a. See if it applies to you. Being able to check it just might put a little money in your piggy bank!

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