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nolimitssd
New Member

If I am blind or low-vision and pay for a service like Aira (www.Aira.io) which provides remote assistance for a fee can it be deducted? Does vision level matter?

Aira is a monthly subscription ranging from $89 per month to $329 per month depending on the level of service.

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Accepted Solutions
Opus 17
Level 15

If I am blind or low-vision and pay for a service like Aira (www.Aira.io) which provides remote assistance for a fee can it be deducted? Does vision level matter?

I think it's too new to say for sure.  Here are some general principles.  Consult a professional tax advisor for more information.

Medical expenses (used to treat, manage or care for a disease or defect) are deductible but subject to the 10% rule, which is very difficult to reach.  A guide dog is considered a deductible expense, so under that example it would seem that the Aira service would also be deductible.

However, there is also a general principle that expenses to manage your lifestyle due to a medical condition are not deductible.  For example, hiring a home care aide to cook and clean for a disabled person is not deductible.  If the aide spends 50% of their time on household chores and 50% of their time providing medical care, you can deduct 50% of the cost.

So while I think you would have a good argument that augmented reality services are similar to guide dogs, it's not a slam dunk until the IRS issues a ruling.

Medical expenses are only deductible after they are more than 10% of your income, so this can be a high bar to cross.

There are two other tax provisions you should be aware of.

You may also be able to deduct expenses that are ordinary and necessary in the course of your job.  If you are self-employed, these are deductions on schedule C.  If you are a W-2 employee, they are miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% rule, which again makes them hard to actually deduct.  Here, you could deduct the part of the cost of the service that is necessary to perform your job.  Possibly such things as scheduling appointments, reading contracts, and so on.  It will obviously depend on the nature of your job and the type of assistance you require.  The IRS gives the example of buying a reading device--if you only use it for work, you can deduct it as a work expense. 

However, you can only deduct assistive technologies as work expenses if no other tax provision applies to them.  So a guide dog would only be a medical expense (10% rule) and not partly a work expense even if you use the guide dog at work where it would also be a work benefit. 

So I think you could take the position that the service is similar to a guide dog and is fully allowed as a medical expense, which is then subject to the 10% limit.  OR you could take the position that it is a lifestyle help which is not a medical deduction, but the amount you pay to help you at work is a work-related expenses allowable on schedule C or under the 2% limit.  And to do that you would also need a reasonable way of allocating your expenses between work and non-work.

*Answers are correct to the best of my ability at the time of posting but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*

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2 Replies
Opus 17
Level 15

If I am blind or low-vision and pay for a service like Aira (www.Aira.io) which provides remote assistance for a fee can it be deducted? Does vision level matter?

I think it's too new to say for sure.  Here are some general principles.  Consult a professional tax advisor for more information.

Medical expenses (used to treat, manage or care for a disease or defect) are deductible but subject to the 10% rule, which is very difficult to reach.  A guide dog is considered a deductible expense, so under that example it would seem that the Aira service would also be deductible.

However, there is also a general principle that expenses to manage your lifestyle due to a medical condition are not deductible.  For example, hiring a home care aide to cook and clean for a disabled person is not deductible.  If the aide spends 50% of their time on household chores and 50% of their time providing medical care, you can deduct 50% of the cost.

So while I think you would have a good argument that augmented reality services are similar to guide dogs, it's not a slam dunk until the IRS issues a ruling.

Medical expenses are only deductible after they are more than 10% of your income, so this can be a high bar to cross.

There are two other tax provisions you should be aware of.

You may also be able to deduct expenses that are ordinary and necessary in the course of your job.  If you are self-employed, these are deductions on schedule C.  If you are a W-2 employee, they are miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% rule, which again makes them hard to actually deduct.  Here, you could deduct the part of the cost of the service that is necessary to perform your job.  Possibly such things as scheduling appointments, reading contracts, and so on.  It will obviously depend on the nature of your job and the type of assistance you require.  The IRS gives the example of buying a reading device--if you only use it for work, you can deduct it as a work expense. 

However, you can only deduct assistive technologies as work expenses if no other tax provision applies to them.  So a guide dog would only be a medical expense (10% rule) and not partly a work expense even if you use the guide dog at work where it would also be a work benefit. 

So I think you could take the position that the service is similar to a guide dog and is fully allowed as a medical expense, which is then subject to the 10% limit.  OR you could take the position that it is a lifestyle help which is not a medical deduction, but the amount you pay to help you at work is a work-related expenses allowable on schedule C or under the 2% limit.  And to do that you would also need a reasonable way of allocating your expenses between work and non-work.

*Answers are correct to the best of my ability at the time of posting but do not constitute legal or tax advice.*
ted_drake
New Member

If I am blind or low-vision and pay for a service like Aira (www.Aira.io) which provides remote assistance for a fee can it be deducted? Does vision level matter?

Aira is a fantastic service for personal, health, and employment needs. As mentioned previously, it may depend on how your are using it.

 

While not answering your question about the ability to deduct it as an expense, I would like to share Intuit's partnership with Aira. Intuit sponsors Aira usage for small business owners and self-employed individuals to complete tasks necessary to grow and run their business. 

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