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Are You Due For a Gluten-free Tax Break? 03/21/2014 - According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, the burden of celiac disease can cost an extra $1,000 to $2,500 per year. However, many people who eat gluten-free diets as treatment for celiac disease or other medical conditions are eligible for tax breaks.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.Those who do eat gluten-free due to medical conditions will be happy to learn that both the Internal Revenue Service and the Canada Revenue Agency list gluten-free food as an eligible medical expense. That means that filers may be eligible for tax relief for gluten-free-related food expenses.

For example, according to the Canada Revenue Agency website, celiac disease suffers are "entitled to claim the incremental costs associated with the purchase of gluten-free products as a medical expense." That means Canadians with celiac disease can claim the difference between the cost of their gluten-free food and the cost of comparable regular food. However, there are a few hoops to jump through. To claim the credit, Canadian taxpayers need a doctor's letter confirming celiac disease; a receipt for every item claimed; and a summary for each item calculating the cost differential for gluten-free products.

U.S. residents can deduct the extra cost for gluten-free foods and goods purchased to meet celiac dietary needs. Shipping and delivery costs for those gluten-free products can also be deducted. Also, for any special trip to purchase gluten-free foods, the cost of transportation to and from the store is deductible, including mileage, tolls and parking fees. The vehicle deduction for trips during 2013 is 24 cents per mile.

To claim these deductions, taxpayers first need an official, written celiac diagnosis from a doctor. A copy of this diagnosis must be submitted with other completed tax forms.

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Taxpayers will then complete form 1040 schedule A for medical deductions. For reference taxpayers may cite: IRS Publication 502; Revenue Rulings: 55-261, 76-80, 2002-19 and 67 TC 481; Cohen 38 TC 387; Flemming TC MEMO 1980 583; and Van Kalb TC MEMO 1978 366

This must be supported with copies of receipts for all gluten-free purchases, along with lists of prices for gluten-free food and regular counterparts being claimed.

The difference between those prices is tax-deductible. For example, if a pound of wheat flour costs $0.60 and a pound of rice flour costs $3.40, then you may deduct $2.80 for each pound of rice flour you are claiming for that tax year.

Remember, some specialty products like xanthan gum and sorghum flour are fully tax-deductible as they have no "regular" counterpart but are purchased to meet your dietary needs.

Of course, for specific advice, contact an accountant.

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13 Responses:

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said this on
21 Mar 2014 10:29:50 AM PST
I am just starting a gluten-free diet so I need lots of info and recipes. I am also a type 2 diabetic. Thank you!

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said this on
22 Mar 2014 8:13:15 AM PST
Excellent news and information about saving money on taxes. Everyone knows it's more expensive to eat gluten free, glad to see the government recognizes too!

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said this on
25 Mar 2014 6:49:54 AM PST
I think you need to itemize, or met a 7 or 10% of income medical expense amount to deduct? More detail on that would be good. The paperwork seems too much for busy people. A small credit or standard deduction with a celiac diagnosis would be more helpful. But it is something, and we know how expensive GF foods can be.

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said this on
04 Aug 2014 12:57:00 PM PST
I have a spread sheet on Excel with each item that I buy. It lists the store cost of the item and below I list the cost of the gluten free item. I have it set up that at the end of the year, it will figure the cost difference. My accountant loves it.

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said this on
09 Aug 2014 11:37:56 AM PST
Sheila, that is brilliant...I really must take the time to set that up. A few minutes of planning in the beginning will make a huge difference in the amount of time needed at the end of the year to figure everything out! Thank you!

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said this on
10 Sep 2014 5:02:54 AM PST
I plan on doing this as well. I just find it difficult to calculate when the product sizes are different. For example, a loaf of Udi's bread is about half the size, AND more expensive than a regular loaf of bread. Does that not get accounted for, or is it okay to list the unit cost and size of each item and do the calculations that way?

shirley Cole
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said this on
02 Mar 2015 3:16:05 PM PST
I have Excel on my computer, but don't know how to set up a program and have never used it. I just use Outlook and Word. If you have a sample sheet or list of mainstream products & prices as well as the GF counterparts, I would love to have a copy. I could follow that to set it up with the products I use. I don't think I could get all of those prices without having a panic attack in the store. I could type it all into my computer if I had the items and prices. Do you know if this applies to organic foods as well? I am sensitive to all kinds of chemicals. I am a senior citizen, 7-year breast cancer survivor, 7-years since celiac diagnosis, Hashimotos, and 4 1/2 years with hives and angio edema from unknown causes, probably meds, food additives and chemicals. I desperately need the tax deduction, but the additional stress of compiling all of the comparable prices would probably trigger a hive outbreak, panic attack or both.

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said this on
06 Jan 2016 6:42:30 PM PST
Would you be willing to share the spreadsheet for those of us who don't understand how? It would help a lot. Thank you for sharing.

Betty tirey
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said this on
25 Mar 2014 2:52:34 PM PST
I keep waiting for some bright person to develop an app for recording and tracking GF foods.

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said this on
03 Apr 2014 8:51:35 PM PST
In the U.S., one must itemize and medical expenses have to be 7% to 10% (I can't recall the percentage now) of the person's gross income...thanks for noting that, Sharon. That's a lot of paperwork and receipt saving! I'm with Sharon that a standard deduction for celiacs or tax break would be more reasonable.

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said this on
04 Feb 2016 5:09:07 AM PST
Very helpful

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said this on
16 Feb 2016 4:01:56 PM PST
So helpful. Thanks everyone. I just hope the government is reading this.

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said this on
25 Oct 2016 7:08:20 AM PST
I agree, the 7 - 10 % that we must meet and all the receipts we have to go through itemizing the differences in cost seems like an obstacle to prevent tax payers from claiming the deductions.

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