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How to Write Off COVID-19 Expenses On Your Tax Return

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Mar. 4 2022, Published 8:31 a.m. ET

Have you ever heard someone say that they love paying taxes? Not likely! Everyone wants to reduce their tax bill. One of the best ways is to take advantage of deductions that the IRS allows. After the last two years of lockdowns and social distancing, many people want to know if COVID-19 PPE (personal protective equipment) expenses are tax deductible.

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COVID-19 pandemic measures included wearing masks, gloves, and other PPE and using plenty of disinfectant and hand sanitizer. In some cases, the IRS allows you to write off these items on your tax return as deductible medical expenses. You can also deduct COVID-19 test fees.

Is COVID-19 PPE always tax deductible?

Your PPE expenses must meet certain requirements to be eligible for tax deductions. First, they must be expenses not covered by insurance and that you paid for out of pocket.

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Second, your total out-of-pocket medical expenses, including PPE purchases, must exceed 7.5 percent of your annual adjusted gross income to qualify for a deduction, meaning that if your adjusted gross income is $50,000, you can only write off out-of-pocket medical expenses above $3,750.

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You may be out of luck if you had high medical costs but they fall short of the 7.5 percent threshold. But you can resolve that by adding enough COVID-19 PPE expenses to allow you to claim a deduction.

Paying for PPE purchases with HSA money

Whereas you can use your HSA money to purchase COVID-19 protective items, expenses paid for with HSA funds can’t be claimed for tax deductions.

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COVID-19 tax deductions for teachers

Teachers may be able to deduct out-of-pocket expenses incurred on COVID-19 protective items for the classroom. These include face masks, disposable gloves, hand sanitizers, and disinfectants. A teacher can deduct up to $250 of out-of-pocket classroom expenses.

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The costs must meet the IRS guidelines on educator expense deductions to be written off. Specifically, you must be teaching children in kindergarten up to the 12th grade, and you must have worked for at least 900 hours at a certified elementary or secondary school. Homeschooling parents can’t claim the deduction.

Can you write off home office expenses on your taxes?

After the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many workers set up home offices, for which they incurred various expenses such as laptop purchases and internet access bills. Whereas corporate workers can’t deduct home office expenses, independent contractors, freelancers, and other self-employed people can.

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