Mask up and save: Some US taxpayers can write off COVID PPE

The US Internal Revenue Service issued guidelines stipulating that taxpayers can in some cases deduct money spent on personal protective equipment such as masks, hand sanitiser and sanitising wipes from their taxes.

IRS payroll tax plan
United States taxpayers can qualify for the deduction if they have medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income and they itemize their tax returns, the IRS said [File: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg]

Face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes can qualify as medical expenses for tax deductions or can be paid for with money from tax-advantaged health accounts, the Internal Revenue Service announced Friday.

“The purchase of personal protective equipment, such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of coronavirus are deductible medical expenses,” the agency said in a statement.

Taxpayers can qualify for the deduction if they have medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income and they itemize their tax returns. Generally, only a small percentage of taxpayers itemize their taxes and an even smaller portion meet the threshold for medical deductions.

For the vast majority of taxpayers that take the standard deduction instead of itemizing, the IRS is also offering tax relief. They can use tax-favored health accounts — health flexible spending arrangements, Archer medical savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, or health savings accounts — to pay for those costs.

The addition of masks and hand sanitizer adds to a long lists of medical costs that can come with tax benefits. Payments for false teeth, reading or prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, crutches and wheelchairs all count toward the write-off and can also be paid for by many health accounts.

The IRS has an online tool to calculate whether you can deduct medical expenses.

Source: Bloomberg

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