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Deducting Glasses from Your Tax Return

Many people have to wear glasses all the time – whether short-sighted or long-sighted, those who need them simply can’t do without them. Unfortunately the solution is not as simple as a cheap pair of glasses from the supermarket, but specially fitted glasses from a trusted optician. Expenses from this necessity and multiple appointments per year to check your vision can really add up, which leads to the question: can glasses be deducted from your tax return? There are many different types and models of glasses depending on your individual visual needs. Some of these practical and functional features can really rack up the costs depending on your personal taste – but most the time, these costs rack up due to investing in your own health.

Deducting your glasses from your German tax return

Most German residents will experience submitting a tax return at some point and glasses wearers might wonder if they can tack their glasses on to their deductible expenses. Unfortunately, typical everyday glasses cannot be deducted as income-related expenses (Werbungskosten) as they are not considered a work aid, but instead a medical aid due to visual impairment. VDU glasses designed for reading computer screens are also not tax deductible as income related expenses.

With this being said, there are two cases that allow glasses to be deducted as income-related expenses:

  • If your vision was impaired due to working at a computer screen, you must be able to provide proof of this.
  • If you have to wear special protection glasses in your line of work, such as in a laboratory.

If none of the above apply, it’s possible to deduct your glasses as extraordinary expenses (außergewöhnliche Belastungen); however, the costs cannot be written off completely. There is a so-called “reasonable burden limit” for taxpayers based on their individual income, marital status, and number of children and expenses can only be deducted once this limit is exceeded. For example, if your individual reasonable burden limit amounts to 800 euros and you purchased glasses for 600 euros, they cannot be written if on your tax return. If, instead, you purchased glasses for 1,000 euros, you can claim the difference between your reasonable burden limit and the purchase price (200 euros).

Are sunglasses tax deductible?

Unfortunately, sunglasses are not deductible unless they are necessary due to a medical condition. If you wear them due to an illness or your normal glasses have a self-tinting function that darken the lenses when light falls on them, they can be deducted as extraordinary expenses if your aforementioned burden limit is exceeded.

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