The IRS has announced that the tax deduction for medical expenses includes amounts spent on face masks, sanitizer and other products purchased to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

If you have significant medical expenses, you may be able to deduct them from your taxes. Many types of medical expenses are deductible, from long-term care to hospital stays to hearing aids. This year, the IRS has made clear that “medical expenses” also includes amounts paid for personal protective equipment, such as masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes, as long as they were used for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

However, this deduction will be irrelevant to most taxpayers. To claim the deduction, your medical expenses have to be more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income and your other deductions have to be sufficient to justify itemizing rather than taking the standard deduction. This may be the case if you have large home care, nursing home or assisted living expenses (the latter only deductible if you’re there for medical reasons), in which case the cost of your face masks, etc., is going to be a drop in the bucket. In addition, you can only deduct medical expenses you paid during the year, regardless of when the services were provided, and medical expenses are not deductible if they are reimbursable by insurance.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the deadline for filling 2020 taxes has been extended to May 17, 2021.

For the IRS’s press release on deducting personal protective equipment, click here.

For more information on what you can and cannot deduct, see Publication 502 on the IRS Web site. To learn more, contact Amy Stratton or Kristen Prull Moonan.