Taking the Tax out of Medical Expenses

Doctor checking patient’s blood pressure, with stethoscope, clipboard and pen on table.


Tax is confusing. Medical aids are confusing. Put them together and it can feel impossible to figure out. Is claiming medical expenses back from tax really worth it? We explain how it works to help you make up your mind about whether or not you want to.


Will You Get Money Back?


When you claim on your medical expenses, SARS may give you tax credits, which isn’t the same as getting a standalone refund from them. Here is a quick look at the tax credits formulas.

Medical Aid Tax Credit Table


These credits will be deducted from the money you already owe to SARS, but they won’t be carried over into the next tax year. Tax credits won’t result in a surprise bonus from SARS, but they could mean you’ll pay less tax.


What Medical Expenses Can You Claim For?


You can claim a tax rebate on certain kinds of medical expenses and not on others. The main one you need to be aware of is:


  • Professional services and medicine supplied by registered medical practitioners. For example, if your dentist prescribed scheduled medication and you collect it from a pharmacist, you can claim for the dentist consultation and the medication.


Other medical expenses include:


  • Hospitalisation in a registered hospital or nursing home;

  • Home nursing by a registered nurse, midwife or nursing assistant;

  • Medicines prescribed by a registered physician and acquired from a registered pharmacist;

  • Expenses incurred and paid outside South Africa in respect of services rendered or medicines supplied which must be substantially similar to the services and medicines listed above;

  • Any qualifying expenses prescribed by the SARS Commissioner as a result of any physical impairment or disability.


Remember: You can only claim for these if you’ve paid for them yourself during the tax year.


Medical Aid Contributions


If you pay monthly premiums for a medical aid, SARS will give you a fixed-amount rebate on those premiums. So it doesn’t matter whether you have a basic or a comprehensive medical aid plan, this rebate will be the same. However, if you also pay for dependents on your medical aid, you will get an extra rebate for each of those dependents.


Additional Medical Expenses Tax Credit


An Additional Medical Expenses Tax Credit (also known as an "AMTC") is a rebate which can reduce the normal tax a person pays. If you submit a claim to your medical aid but still have to pay for the costs yourself, you may get a rebate. As with other claims, this applies to the same kinds of medical expenses we mentioned earlier, such as professional services and medicine supplied by registered medical practitioners.


SARS will also look at your age and your disability status when calculating your Additional Medical Expenses Tax Credit.


While this is a basic overview of how claiming for medical expenses works, we hope we’ve cleared up some of the mystery so that you can confidently submit your returns next tax season.


If you require further assistance, please speak to a qualified financial advisor.


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Prices quoted are correct at the time of publishing this article. The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or medical advice.


Sources: Tax Tim; SARS

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