Eating gluten free can mean extra out of pocket costs, especially when you’re just starting out, trying lots of new items to find the ones you like best.

And even if you’ve been diagnosed for years, you probably still go through busy seasons of life where you rely more heavily on prepackaged goods.

Did you know that you may be able to recoup some of those funds at tax time? Is it worth the hassle?

Publication 502

The basis of this particular tax deduction comes from the IRS’ Publication 502. Essentially, if you have a medical condition – like celiac disease – that requires a special diet, then you might be eligible to take this deduction.

Naturally, the IRS has imposed quite a few restrictions and there are a lot of hoops for taxpayers to jump through.

Deduction Basics

Check out the basic requirements to see if this deduction is worth taking for you and/or your family.

  • You must itemize. For starters, you can only take this deduction if you itemize expenses, meaning you opt out of the standard deduction.

  • Split the difference. You can only claim the cost difference between gluten free and gluten-containing items. For example, a loaf of wheat bread costs $3.00 and a loaf of gluten free bread costs $5.00. You can only claim $2.00 as that is the extra cost you would incur to eat gluten free. Shipping costs qualify for the deduction as well.

  • AGI limits. Your medical expenses must exceed 10% of your AGI, or adjusted gross income. If your AGI is $50,000, then you can only claim any expenses over $5,000. Whether or not you reach this high dollar threshold depends on the total of all of your out of pocket medical expenses. Remember, these expenses may not have been previously reimbursed by an employer, HSA, FSA, etc.

  • Save all receipts. If you decide to claim the additional food expenses, you’ll need to have receipts to back the purchases. While it hasn’t been verified by the IRS, there has been talk that the receipts must have the wording “gluten free.”

  • Ask for a doctor’s note. You’ll want to ask your physician for an official document that states you have been diagnosed with celiac disease. Not only will you need to send the note in with your tax documents, but you’ll want to keep a copy on file for your own records.

  • Talk to a tax professional. Taking this deduction may or may not be worth it, depending on your tax situation and out of pocket expenses. Always seek the advice of a tax professional to guide you through filing.

Have you successfully deducted gluten free expenses on your taxes? Please tell us in the comments below!

Steph Weber is a Midwest-based freelance writer and marketing maven, who also happens to love food – minus the gluten, dairy, and eggs. To hire her or see more of her work, please visit