Despite all the rancor about the IRS there may be some good in the piles of tax codes and dreaded paper work, if you look close enough. In 2002 The IRS passed a little known rule in section 213 of the tax code that can give obese taxpayers who are being proactive about their health a helping hand. The IRS ruled that uncompensated amounts paid for weight-loss programs may be tax deductible if the program is treatment for a specific disease or ailment diagnosed by a physician. As with all IRS laws it's not that easy, but surprisingly enough, it's not that hard either. As long as you get your doctor to write a note saying she/he recommends you exercise as a form of treatment for your existing illness (INCLUDING OBESITY) then it can be written off under section 213.

Who can write off fitness services?
Any tax payer with a BMI of 30 and above, who suffers from an illness that requires medical care. This includes high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. The IRS ruled that obesity is medically accepted to be a disease in its own right. If a physician diagnoses a patient as obese, then the patient's participation in a weight-loss program as treatment for obesity is an amount paid for medical care under section 213. In addition, if a patient is directed by a physician to lose weight as treatment for another condition, such as hypertension, the treatment is also an amount paid for medical care under section 213.

How much can you write off?
You can write off up to 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. I'm no tax accountant or a mathematician, but if my math skills serve me correct, at an annual gross income of $50K you can write off $3250. A woman can attend a BALANCE weekend weight loss retreat and all 5 summer outdoor fitness boot camps and still keep a pretty penny on a $50K salary. And If she grosses $100K, She could enroll in a complete one-on-one training body transformation package with her $7500 of tax deductible spending and still have change to spare.

How do I know if I qualify as obese?
This is probably one of the few times that many people will be hoping they are obese. The standard for determining medical obesity is a chart known as the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI equals a person's weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. (BMI=kg/m2). You can go to for a quick online BMI calculator to determine your BMI. If you have a BMI over 30 talk to your doctor about how that affects your health and get her/him to prescribe exercise as way of reducing your weight and BMI. She/he will be more than happy to write a prescription to exercises instead of a prescription for medications.

Who CAN NOT use this deductible?
If you are in a normal weight range and have no existing medical conditions or, if you are participation in a weight-loss program to improve general health and appearance, then the fees are not amounts paid for medical care under section 213.
What weight loss programs CAN NOT be written off?
Programs like nutri-system or other food based programs. The IRS specified that an individual may not deduct any portion of the cost of purchasing reduced-calorie diet food because the food is merely a substitute for the food an individual would normally consume. The purchase of food is a nondeductible personal expense.

What should I do if my Tax Accountant doesn’t know about this rule?
You can ask them to refer to IRS Section 213 (Rev. Rul. 2002-19)

Or download the entire IRS code at

Author's Bio: 

Mubarakah Ibrahim is the owner of BALANCE Fitness Studio for Women in New Haven, CT. She is an AFAA Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Counselor and Authorized Oasis in the Overwhelm® Trainer. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show "Thirty-something in America", is a contributing expert to Prevention Magazine on fitness for women over 40, appeared on the covers of the Hartford Current, New Haven Advocate and Chicago Tribune. Mubarakah lectures, promotes and conducts workshops on alternative health, fitness and healthy living throughout the United States. She can be contacted by visiting her website or e-mailed at