Medical expenses deductions
Medical expenses deductions are part of a system whereby if the amount of medical care costs paid in one year, including those of family members, exceeds a certain standard, you can file a final tax return with the tax office to have the excess amount of medical care costs deducted from your taxable income and have some of your taxes refunded.
Check with your nearest tax office for details, including how to conduct the necessary procedures. Information is also available on the National Tax Agency website.
The self-medication tax system (Special exception for medical expense deductions under the self-medication taxation system)
The self-medication tax system (Special exception for medical expense deductions under the self-medication taxation system) is a system of special exceptions for medical expense deductions intended to encourage switching from use of prescribed drugs under appropriate health management.
Under this system, by completing a final income tax return, taxpayers who receive health examinations, vaccinations, or other services for the purposes of health maintenance and promotion or disease prevention and purchase more than 12,000 yen’s worth of eligible over-the-counter drugs per year may deduct from their annual gross income the amount of such costs in excess of 12,000 yen (up to a maximum of 88,000 yen).
- ** Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs: Drugs that can be purchased at pharmacies, drug stores, and elsewhere without a prescription from a doctor (general nonprescription drugs, drugs requiring guidance).
January 1, 2017 - December 31, 2026
Persons eligible to claim the deduction
Those eligible to claim the deduction will meet all three of the following conditions for the year in question (January-December):
- Pay both income tax and resident tax.
- Purchase more than 12,000 yen in eligible over-the-counter drugs during the year (including over-the-counter drugs purchased for dependent spouse and/or other dependent family members)
- Undergo at least one of the following services for purposes of health maintenance and promotion or disease prevention:
- Health examinations provided by a health insurance society or other party (e.g., complete check-ups and various examination and screening services)
- Health examinations provided by municipal governments as health improvement (health examinations for persons such as public assistance beneficiaries)
- Vaccinations (periodic vaccinations or influenza vaccinations)
- Periodic health examinations provided by employers (employer examinations)
- Specified health diagnosis (so-called metabolic syndrome examinations) and specified health guidance
- Cancer examinations provided by municipalities
- ** Health examinations provided by municipalities as services for residents and funded by local governments are not eligible.
- ** Optional health examinations paid for entirely by the patient are not eligible.
In general, the drugs covered are those that once required a doctor's prescription but now can be bought over the counter at drug stores (Rx-to-OTC switch drugs, with some exceptions). Certain nonprescription (OTC) drugs other than Rx-to-OTC switch drugs may be eligible if they are recognized to be highly effective for the rationalization of medical care costs.
Visit the website of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare for Information on eligible active ingredients, products, etc.
- Reference link
Packages of eligible products will show the following identifying mark to help you determine which products to purchase following adoption of this system.
Relationship to ordinary medical expense deductions
You cannot combine deductions from income under the self-medication tax system and ordinary medical expense deductions. Eligible persons must choose whether to use ordinary medical expense deductions or the self-medication tax system for the cost of eligible drugs you purchased.
For information on specific procedures for completing final income tax returns and other matters, check with your nearest tax office, the website of the National Tax Agency, or other sources.