Tax Problem 2-67
Larry has severe vision problems and has previously claimed the additional standard deduction available to blind taxpayers. This year, Larry was prescribed a new type of lens that vastly improved his vision. However, he began to suffer severe pain, infection, and ulcers from the lens, and had to remove the lens. The doctor said he could continue to wear the contact lens, but only for short time periods. The issue is if Larry is able to claim the additional standard deduction to blind taxpayers.
The case at hand is Emanuel Hollman, 38 T.C. 251 (1963). Through his guardian ad litem, the petitioner, Hollman, sought the court’s determination of certain tax deficiencies and additions to his tax liability. The matter pertinent to this discussion was if Hollman was entitled to an exemption for blindness for the years 1953, 1954, and 1955. Section 151(d)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 defines blindness as an individual’s central visual acuity that does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye with correcting lenses, or if his visual acuity is greater than 20/200 but is accompanied by a limitation in the fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees. Hollman was blind under the definition of section 151(d)(3) of the 1954 code at the end of years 1951-1955. Hollman’s vision was not better than 20/200 in either eye, and could not be improved by glasses. Wearing the lenses improved his vision to 20/60 and 20/70 in the right and left eyes, respectively. He could not wear the lenses every day as they caused corneal ulcers, infection, and purulent material to accumulate in the lenses. A qualified ophthalmologist examined Hollman and testified that his eyes met the statute’s conditions. The court believed that the only way they could reject the ophthalmologist’s testimony was if Hollman’s vision could be corrected beyond the minimum statutory requirements by a special type of lens....
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