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COVID Costs You Can Deduct from 2021 Taxes

In 2021, the IRS announced that taxpayers who itemize could deduct certain unreimbursed COVID-19 medical expenses from their taxes. Among those expenses, you can include at-home COVID-19 tests, as well as the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes.

Taxpayers can only claim this deduction if their total medical and dental expenses exceed 7.5% of their 2021 adjusted gross income. For example, if your household had an adjusted gross income of $70,000 last year, you had to have spent more than $5,250 on these expenses before you can claim this deduction. Also, if your insurance reimbursed you for any COVID-19 expenses, you cannot claim them.

If you are a teacher, you can claim up to $250 in eligible educator expenses. For your 2021 tax return, you can also claim the unreimbursed COVID-19 protective items you purchased for your classes. These expenses include:

  • face masks;
  • disinfectant for use against COVID-19;
  • hand soap;
  • hand sanitizer;
  • disposable gloves;
  • tape, paint or chalk to guide social distancing;
  • physical barriers (for example, clear plexiglass); and
  • air purifiers;

The deadline for filing taxes was moved to Monday, April 18, 2022. The IRS says that due to a backlog of returns they have already received, if you submit your return on paper forms, it may take a while to get your refund. They suggest filing electronically to get your refund processed more quickly. You can also instruct them to send your payment via direct deposit. This will get the refund into your credit union account faster than waiting for a paper check to arrive in the mail. If you log into the IRS website, you can get updates on your refund’s status by clicking on their “Where’s My Refund?” page.

Once you receive your refund, be sure to save at least a portion of it in a savings account. As these last two plus years have shown us, having an emergency fund can truly save you in the event of a job loss or extensive medical expenses. If you don’t have an emergency savings account yet and need some help getting it set up, just contact our branch at 504-454-8224 and one of our member service representatives will be happy to help you.

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