IRS Says You Can Deduct Cost of Masks, Sanitizer From Taxes

closeup of a young man in an office holding a briefcase and a surgical mask in his hand.
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If you stocked up on face masks and hand sanitizer in 2020 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS has good news: you can deduct those expenses off your tax return this year.

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The agency issued a statement in late March saying that the purchase of protective equipment such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes are deductible medical expenses as long as they were used for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Because the amounts represent expenses for medical care under the Internal Revenue Code, they are also eligible to be paid or reimbursed under health flexible spending arrangements, Archer medical savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements or health savings accounts (HSAs). However, any amounts that were paid or reimbursed under those plans are not deductible, the IRS said.

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Taxpayers will have a little bit more time to put together their returns this year following the IRS’s recent decision to delay the tax filing deadline until May 17 from the normal April 15 deadline.

As reported by CBS News, the delay came after accountants had asked the agency to extend the deadline to help taxpayers deal with coronavirus-related challenges. Many of those challenges extend to the IRS itself, which still faces a backlog of tax returns from last year.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte MagazineStreet & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, will be published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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