IRS Says Cost of COVID-19 PPE Qualifies as Medical Expense

March 28, 2021

On March 26, 2021, IRS announced that taxpayers may treat the expense of personal protection equipment (PPE) purchased for the purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19, as a medical expense. Specifically, Announcement 2021-7 stated:

This announcement notifies taxpayers that amounts paid for personal protective equipment, such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19 PPE) are treated as amounts paid for medical care under § 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code). Therefore, amounts paid by an individual taxpayer for COVID-19 PPE 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 § 213(a) provided that the taxpayer’s total medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.

Because these amounts are expenses for medical care under § 213(d) of the Code, the amounts are 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). However, if an amount is paid or reimbursed under a health FSA, Archer MSA, HRA, HSA or any other health plan, it is not deductible under § 213.

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