In general, a portion of home improvement can be a medical expense deduction if the primary purpose of the improvement is medical care such as a wheelchair ramp for a handicapped individual or an elevator for someone with a heart condition.
Determining how much of the cost of such improvements is deductible depends on whether the improvement becomes a part of the house or whether it is something that can be detached from the house. If it’s detachable, the entire cost of the improvement is usually a deductible medical expense. But if the improvement becomes a part of the house, you can deduct only that portion of its cost which exceeds the increase in the value of the house because of the improvement.
For example, the cost of a room air conditioner installed on doctor’s orders would be fully deductible because it is detachable and it does not increase the value of the house. However, a central air conditioner installed on doctor’s orders would be deductible only to the extent that its cost exceeded the increase in the value of the house. Therefore, if the central air conditioning cost $12,000 but added $7,000 to the value of the house, only $5,000 would be a deductible medical expense.
In the case of a tenant who rents property, the entire cost of equipment installed for medical reasons would be deductible, since a tenant does not own the property and would gain nothing from an increase in its value.