Non-dependent medical expenses

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Can you claim medical expenses for someone not a member of your medical scheme?  You can, but there are many boxes to tick.

Medical scheme membership is normally offered to individuals and their immediate dependents, who would usually be their spouses and children under 18 (unless they are in full-time education, in which case they can usually remain a member of the scheme until age 24). But what happens if you have a child who embarks on a course of study (such as a PhD) that takes them beyond age 24?  Or you have an elderly parent who can no longer afford their own medical scheme membership.  Many people in this situation enrol their adult family members in a separate medical scheme and pick up the cost thereof.

The question is: Can you then claim the cost of their medical scheme contributions, and/or any medical expenses not recovered from a scheme, as a deduction on your own personal income tax return?  Surprisingly, the answer is ‘yes’—but SARS is not about to allow such a deduction without being absolutely convinced that the expenditure is genuine.

Claiming medical costs for someone not on your medical scheme:

To capture a claim for medical costs paid by you for someone where you are not the principal member onto your tax return, you need to first open the Form Wizard and mark the appropriate block ‘Y’.

Supporting documents:

Once you’ve submitted your return, you can guarantee that SARS will request supporting documentation.  To get your claim accepted, you will need to provide the following:

A certificate from the person’s medical scheme, showing the person’s name, address, ID/membership number, number of dependents, contributions made to the scheme, and contributions submitted but not paid by the scheme.

The nature of the relationship, and why you are paying the medical expenses on that person’s behalf.  While the wording on the ITR12 income tax return refers to ‘immediate family members’, the SARS Guide on the Determination of Medical Tax Credits (Issue 14) indicates that such family members must in some way be ‘dependent’ on the taxpayer.

Proof that you have paid the expenses on the person’s behalf.

SARS would therefore require your bank statements, on which the contributions to the medical scheme are clearly highlighted.

Proof of payment of medical expenses not submitted to a medical scheme—this will be in the form of receipts for amounts paid.


  • Steven Jones is a registered SARS tax practitioner, a practising member of the South African Institute of Professional Accountants, and the editor of Personal Finance and Tax Breaks.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).

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