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How to get a tax-free massage

pre-tax massage
That therapeutic massage might just feel better if you use your end-of-year flex-spending money to pay for it

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are strange little piggy banks. At the beginning of the year, you set aside a certain amount of pre-tax money from your paycheck to use for medical expenses. Flex-spending dollars cover medical meat and potatoes, like co-pays and some services an insurance company won’t. If your piggy bank isn’t empty by the year’s end, you lose it. So November and December produce an FSA-scramble with people racing to buy prescription eyeglasses and stock up on contact lens solution.

Few people know that FSA money, in addition to Motrin, can be used to pay for massage. In fact, many holistic treatments, including acupuncture, hypnosis, and nutritional counseling, qualify as long as you file the proper paperwork. W+G applauds the mainstreaming of these holistic treatments. (After all, most people seek out a massage for stress before an MD.) Here’s how to take advantage of this benefit.

1. Get a doctor’s note. Most plans require it. While my plan wouldn’t reimburse me for “relaxation” massage, it does reimburse for therapeutic massage. Who doesn’t have an old sports injury, lower back pain, or tight shoulders from hunching over a desk?

2. Submit a doctor’s note to your FSA provider along with receipts for therapeutic massage. I suggest seeing a practitioner who is familiar with how Flexible Spending Accounts work and is accustomed to providing the appropriate documentation.


Robyn Rubenstein of Manhattan Massage provides clients with documentation that includes her massage therapist license number as well as information about what happened during the session. “I support my clients in filing with their insurance,” she says, “and I make it clear that it was a therapeutic massage and not a fluffy massage.”

The Medical Massage Group specializes in massage for pregnant women and anyone suffering back, neck, or shoulder pain. They’ve been at it for 20 years, and can provide receipts detailing the issues your massage addressed.
328 E. 75th St., Ste. 3; 212-472-4772,

Have you ever used your FSA for holistic services? Do you have any comments or suggestions about the process? Tell us, here!