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IRS says face masks and other COVID-19 protective equipment may be tax-deductible

The agency offers an interactive guide to help you determine which health-related expenses are deductible

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Photo (c) Nuthawut Somsuk - Getty Images
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sent out a reminder to taxpayers on Friday that any money spent on personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes to prevent COVID-19 are “treated as amounts paid for medical care (under Section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code)”.

Any amount paid for personal protective equipment is also eligible to be paid or reimbursed under health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs), Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), or health savings accounts (HSAs).

What to know and how to get started

As with most tax deductions, there are caveats that consumers will need to keep in mind. The IRS says that amounts paid by an individual taxpayer for COVID-19 PPE must meet two important criteria to be eligible for deduction:

  • The products must have been for use by the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, or the taxpayer’s dependent(s) that are not compensated for by insurance or otherwise are deductible under Section 213(a); and

  • The taxpayer’s total medical expenses must exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.

For more information on determining what is deductible, the IRS offers an interactive tax assistant that will walk you through a set of questions to help you determine if you can deduct specific medical and dental expenses. The process takes about 15 minutes and you’ll need to know the following things:

  • Filing status.

  • Type and amount of expenses paid.

  • The year in which the expenses were paid.

  • Your adjusted gross income.

  • If you were reimbursed or if expenses were paid out of a Health Savings Account or an Archer Medical Savings Account.

ConsumerAffairs is keeping a running update on everything tax-related -- new deadlines, IRS scams, taxes related to student loans, etc. Those updates are available here.

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