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I'm an independent contractor doing web development consulting. Due to the nature of my work, I am constantly sitting still - many times with bad posture. This has caused me to have back soreness and a worsening posture.

I have found that strength training helps to offset the damage done to my physical body from my job, so I'd like to buy some gym equipment to keep in my office since I don't have the time or money for a gym membership. The sole reason for the gym equipment is to balance the physical damage I endure from my job so I'm wondering if I am able to write it off on my taxes at the end of the year, as work-related?

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    Which country are you in? – Lawrence Sep 4 '18 at 5:51
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    You don't say where you are, so know one can really help. My guess is some places may allow you to claim for a better chair, but few would allow gym equipment (which, incidentally, doesn't really match your title: to me, occupational physical therapy would imply a person treating you). – TripeHound Sep 4 '18 at 6:47
  • Sorry about that - have added United States – papiro Sep 4 '18 at 18:19
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The other answers here discuss deductibility as a personal medical expense, but not as a business expense (on Schedule C) as OP suggested. I don't know, but OP could explore whether his/her business itself could cover the exercise therapy for the on-the-job ergonomic injury, perhaps as "workers compensation". A related article discusses Schedule C deductibility of medical treatment that is necessitated by one's job.

  • I’ve read the question several times but may have missed it. Where did the OP say this was intended to be a business expense? – Lawrence Sep 4 '18 at 15:25
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    @Lawrence Last sentence: "write it off ... as work-related?" – nanoman Sep 4 '18 at 16:03
  • Maybe it’s because I’m looking at this as an Australian, but I read the term work-related in the context of claiming deductions on personal income tax. If it was business income tax, the question would be whether it could be expensed or whether it was a deductible expense (because anything paid for by the corporate entity is by default work-related, though not everything is tax deductible). – Lawrence Sep 4 '18 at 16:09
  • @Lawrence In the US, sole proprietors and independent contractors (self-employed, non-incorporated) report their business income and expenses on Schedule C, an attachment to their personal tax return. Prior to 2018, there was also a personal Schedule A deduction for "unreimbursed employee expenses" for those who incur expenses for their job not covered by the business. Both of these are separate from the deduction for personal medical expenses. – nanoman Sep 4 '18 at 16:19
  • In that case, I might have interpreted my linked references wrongly. I’ve deleted my answer. – Lawrence Sep 4 '18 at 16:23
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In the US, you can't include in medical expenses the cost of an item ordinarily used for personal, living, or family purposes unless it is used primarily to prevent or alleviate a physical or mental disability or illness.

Medical expenses are the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatments affecting any part or function of the body. They include the cost of equipment, supplies and diagnostic devices.

In order for exercise equipment to be deductible, your doctor must prescribe it. Absent medical necessity, therapy is not tax-deductible. Stationary bikes, elliptical machines and treadmills can be considered medical equipment. Standard exercise equipment is a maybe. With a prescription, you might also avoid your state's sales tax on the purchase.

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I'd like to provide an answer myself here as I just have come across the following in Pub. 15, the IRS's "Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits"

You can exclude the value of an employee's use of an on-premises gym or other athletic facility you operate from an employee's wages if substantially all use of the facility during the calendar year is by your employees, their spouses, and their dependent children. For this purpose, an employee's dependent child is a child or stepchild who is the employee's dependent or who, if both parents are deceased, hasn't attained the age of 25. The exclusion doesn't apply to any athletic facility if access to the facility is made available to the general public through the sale of memberships, the rental of the facility, or a similar arrangement.

As an LLC owner, electing s-corp tax status, I am considered an employee (having been placed on payroll and being registered as an employee of the business on the state level), so this fringe benefit could apply. Please correct me if I am wrong.

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