Tax Answers

March 18, 1994

Here is an answer from members of the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants to a reader's tax question. The Sun will publish answers through April 15.

Q: This year we discovered our daughter has a genetic disorder, and we went to some medical conferences to learn about it. Can we deduct the cost of attending those medical conferences as a medical expense? Also, we need to hire an attorney to deal with some other medical issues. Are any attorney's fees deductible?

A: Remember that medical expenses must exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income to be deductible.

According to the Internal Revenue Code, the term "medical care" means that which is "for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body." If you believe that your attendance at these conferences fits this definition then you may be able to deduct the expenses. Use the following guidelines:

* There may be no element of personal pleasure, recreation or vacation as part of the travel away from home.

* Lodging away from home is limited to $50 a night for each individual.

* Traveling expenses are limited to 9 cents a mile.

* Your child must be a dependent to deduct these expenses.

As for the legal fees, they may be deductible as miscellaneous itemized expenses (not medical expenses) if the fees were paid to produce income or to manage, conserve or maintain income-producing property. Remember, miscellaneous itemized deductions must exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.

The above advice is for general purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting or tax advice. Specific situations may vary. Consult with a tax adviser for specific advice.

Readers may submit questions by phone, mail or fax. Selected questions will be answered in The Sun and The Evening Sun.

To ask a tax question by phone, call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County call 268-7736, in Harford County 836-5028, and in Carroll County 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, enter 6120 after the greeting.

Written queries may be sent to TAX QUESTIONS, The Baltimore Sun, Business News Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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