Tag Archives: Special Needs Children

Parents can use tax deductions to pay for special education needs

24 Oct

Moi discussed special education in Fordham Institute study: Spending and special education  https://drwilda.com/2012/09/10/fordham-institute-study-spending-and-special-education/   In Survey: Most people don’t know what a learning disability is, moi said:

The University of Michigan Health System has a great guide, Learning Disabilities:

What are learning disabilities (LD)?
If your child is not doing as well in school as they have the potential to, they may have a
learning disability. Having a learning disability means having a normal intelligence but a problem in one or more areas of learning.

A learning disability is a neurobiological disorder; people with LD have brains that learn differently because of differences in brain structure and/or function.  If a person learns differently due to visual, hearing or physical handicaps, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage, we do not call it a learning disability.

Some people with LD also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

LDs can affect many different areas:

  • Spoken language—problems in listening and speaking

  • Reading—difficulties decoding or recognizing words or understanding them

  • Written language—problems with writing, spelling, organizing ideas

  • Math—trouble doing arithmetic or understanding basic concepts

  • Reasoning—problems organizing and putting together thoughts

  • Memory—problems remembering facts and instructions

  • Social behavior—difficulties with social judgment, tolerating frustration and making friends

  • Physical coordination—problems with handwriting, manipulating small objects, running and jumping

  • Organization—trouble with managing time and belongings, carrying out a plan

  • Metacognition (thinking about thinking)—problems with knowing, using and monitoring the use of thinking and learning strategies, and learning from mistakes

Why is early diagnosis and treatment so important?
When LDs are not found and treated early on, they tend to snowball.  As kids get more and more behind in school, they may become more and more frustrated, feeling like a failure. Often, self-esteem problems lead to bad behavior and other problems.  High school dropout rates are much higher for students with LDs than for those without
[1].   These educational differences, in turn, affect the job and earnings prospects for people with LDs.  When LD is not noticed or not treated, it can cause adult literacy problems.   By identifying LDs early, your child will get the help they need to reach their potential.

How common are learning disabilities?
Educators estimate that between 5 and 10 percent of kids between ages 6 and 17 have learning disabilities
[2]. More than half of the kids receiving special education in the United States have LDs [3]. Dyslexia is the most common LD; 80 percent of students with LDs have dyslexia [4].

What causes learning disabilities?
Because there are lots of kinds of learning disabilities, it is hard to diagnose them and pinpoint the causes. LDs seem to be caused by the brain, but the exact causes are not known. Some
risk factors are:

  • Heredity

  • Low birth weight, prematurity, birth trauma or distress

  • Stress before or after birth

  • Treatment for cancer or leukemia

  • Central nervous system infections

  • Severe head injuries

  • Chronic medical illnesses, like diabetes or asthma

  • Poor nutrition

LDs are not caused by environmental factors, like cultural differences, or bad teaching.

When your child is diagnosed with a LD, the most important thing is not to look back and try to figure out if something went wrong. Instead, think about moving forward and finding help. http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/ld.htm

Once a learning disability has been diagnosed there are steps parents can take to advocate for their child. Scholastic has great advice for parents in the article, Falling Behind With a Learning Disability. http://www.scholastic.com/resources/article/learning-disability/

Schools often test children to determine whether a child has a learning disability. Often parents may want to have an independent evaluation for their child. https://drwilda.com/2012/09/02/survey-most-people-dont-know-what-a-learning-disability-is/

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that parents may be able to deduct some expenses associated with the expenses of their special needs child.

In Special Tax Deductions for Special Education, the WSJ reports:

There are numerous tax breaks for education, but the most important one for many special-needs students isn’t an education break per se. Instead, it falls under the medical-expense category.

Although students with disabilities have a right to a “free and appropriate” public education by law, some families opt out and others pay for a range of supplemental therapies.

Such families can use Uncle Sam’s medical-expense deduction for help coping with costs, say experts. But many parents and tax advisers overlook it.

“Parents are busy helping their children, and tax preparers often don’t ask about medical expenses unless the taxpayer is old or ill,” says Bernard Krooks, a New York attorney who is past president of the Special Needs Alliance, a nonprofit group with members specializing in disability law.

In fact, tax rules allow medical deductions for “diagnosis, cure, mitigation, or treatment…primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental defect or illness” (IRS publication 502).

That can include the cost of a school or program if prescribed by a licensed health-care professional. It might even cover costs for a special two-year college certificate program for students with severe learning disabilities, such as the Reach program run by the University of Iowa, which costs as much as $40,000 a year.

The deduction also can be used for additional therapies. Regina Levy, a Los Angeles CPA with two special-needs children, offers a partial list: occupational therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, physical therapy, social-skills groups and “hippotherapy” (horseback riding), among others.

Beyond Taxes

IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses, can be found at www.irs.gov. Here’s where to find other help:


Here is information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS):

Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses

This publication explains the itemized deduction for medical and dental expenses that you claim on Schedule A (Form 1040). It discusses what expenses, and whose expenses, you can and cannot include in figuring the deduction. It explains how to treat reimbursements and how to figure the deduction. It also tells you how to report the deduction on your tax return and what to do if you sell medical property or receive damages for a personal injury.

Medical expenses include dental expenses, and in this publication the term “medical expenses” is often used to refer to medical and dental expenses.

You can deduct on Schedule A (Form 1040) only the part of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). If your medical and dental expenses are not more than 7.5% of your AGI, you cannot claim a deduction.

This publication also explains how to treat impairment-related work expenses, health insurance premiums if you are self-employed, and the health coverage tax credit that is available to certain individuals.

Current Products

Publication 502 (HTML)

Recent Developments

Corrections to 2011 Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses – 15-FEB-2012

Other Items You May Find Useful:

All Publication 502 Revisions

Publication 969, Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans

Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

Schedule A (Form 1040), Itemized Deductions

Form 8853, Archer MSAs and Long-Term Care Insurance Contracts

Form 8885, Health Coverage Tax Credit

Other Current Products

Comment on Publication 502Send us an email or use the Comment on Tax Forms and Publications web submission form to provide us feedback on the content of the products we give you to help you comply with tax law.

Caution: If you have a tax-related question, please go to Help With Tax Questions or call our toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040 (Individuals) or 1-800-829-4933 (Business). We cannot respond to tax-related questions submitted from this page.

Although we cannot respond individually to each email, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 2012-08-04

All Children Have A Right to A Good Basic Education.


Early warning signs of a learning disability http://www.babycenter.com/0_early-warning-signs-of-a-learning-disability_67978.bc

How to know if your child has a learning disability http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/advice/how-to-know-if-your-child-has-a-learning-disability/2012/05/08/gIQAvzLvAU_story.html

If You Suspect a Child Has a Learning Disability http://www.ncld.org/parents-child-disabilities/ld-testing/if-you-suspect-child-has-learning-disability

Learning Disabilities in Children                                    http://www.helpguide.org/mental/learning_disabilities.htm

Learning Disabilities (LD)                                                         http://nichcy.org/disability/specific/ld

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