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Susan Tompor: Tax breaks available for teachers with COVID-19 expenses, those with high medical bills

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

DETROIT — Most taxpayers check the box to claim the standard tax deduction. This tax season, though, the pandemic has caused many people to want to know how they can deal with COVID-19-related medical costs.

Those who had huge medical bills last year should gather up their paperwork to see if they possibly can deduct a portion of their high out-of-pocket expenses.

Or if you saw a drastic reduction in your income — and had some extraordinary medical expenses — you might be able to deduct medical expenses for 2020 when you couldn't in the past.

Here are some tax breaks to consider:

A break for teachers

If you're a teacher, take note. Eligible teachers now can deduct unreimbursed expenses for COVID-19 protective items to stop the spread of the virus in the classroom.

 

"The teachers deduction was expanded to include expenses for PPE and related COVID expenses," said Mark Luscombe, principal analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, COVID-19 personal protective equipment includes face masks, disinfectant for use against COVID-19, hand soap, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, as well as tape, paint or chalk to guide social distancing. If a teacher had to cover the cost of plexiglass, well, that could be used toward that deduction, too.

Many teachers know that they can claim a $250 tax break for many out-of-pocket costs. So make no mistake, the deduction isn't new but the addition of COVID-19-related costs is useful and offers more possible ways to reach that deduction.

The coronavirus related relief was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed into law in late December — and would apply to items purchased after March 12, 2020.

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