Tax Deduction for Long-Term Care Insurance on the Rise
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) The amount of money that can be deducted for long-term care insurance premiums is higher in 2014 than last year, according to the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance (AALTCI). But the future tax deductibility of long term care insurance premiums is often overlooked by millions of working age Baby Boomers.
"During their working years, individuals rarely qualify for the long term care insurance tax deduction," said Jesse Slome, director of the AALTCI. "Qualifying is typically easier after retirement."
An individual can deduct as much as $4,660 this year compared to $4,550 in 2013.
"Regardless of the deduction, people don't buy long term care insurance for their taxes," said Arthur Rudnick, independent long-term care insurance specialist with New York Long Term Care Brokers in White Plains. "People purchase a policy to protect their assets and remain independent when care is needed. Those are the reasons and if a tax deduction or credit is available it's just icing on the cake. "
In fact, only 22% of the 10.4 million tax returns filed by boomers between 55 and 65 years old who itemized deductions in 2011 had medical and dental expenses in excess of the limitation.
"When comparing the costs for the different long term care policy options, the tax deductions should be included," said CJ Bowker, an independent life insurance broker with Aclaro Risk Management in Massachusetts. "Also expenses for long term care services and premiums are considered to be qualified medical expenses for health spending accounts."
However, the yearly maximum amount that is considered by the Internal Revenue Service as a medical expense depends on the insured's age at the end of the taxable year.
"During your working years, it's hard to take advantage of the long term care insurance tax deduction," said Slome. "Your salary or self-employed income makes meeting the IRS-required threshold to deduct medical expenses difficult."
Nearly 60% of the 8.1 million tax filers over 65 years old who itemize deductions had medical expenses in excess of the limitation.
"After retirement owning long term care insurance can help lower your tax bill but it's best to obtain this coverage prior to retirement, because the costs are lower and you are more likely to meet health qualification requirements," Slome said.
The "Buy Now Deduct Later" strategy secures protection and the future tax deduction is an extra benefit for post-retirement years.
About seven in ten 65-year-olds will need care and $71 out of $100 of the cost of that care will be paid out by family members, according to Dr. Robert Pokorski, vice president and medical director with Prudential Individual Life Insurance.
"The long term care marketplace is one of constant change," Bowker told MainStreet. "More recently hybrid vehicles such as life insurance and annuities with long term care benefits either built in or through attached riders have been popular. As the cost of long term care insurance has increased and people are concerned about paying for something they may never use, they find comfort in these hybrid vehicles because they have monies set aside for long term care but if they never need the care they or their family can get back what they put in or more."