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Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Americans can write off the purchase of face masks, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and other personal protective equipment as medical expenses on their taxes if they were bought for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of the coronavirus, the IRS announced Friday.

Yes, but: Taxpayers can only qualify for the deduction if they have medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income and they itemize their tax returns, which very few do.

  • However, Americans who take a standard deduction can use health flexible spending arrangements, Archer medical savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements or health savings accounts to pay for the costs of PPE.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Mar 25, 2021 - Economy & Business

How to make poorer Americans richer

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you're happy with your retirement plan, there's a very good chance you're a federal employee. Now there's a bipartisan proposal to extend that excellent service to the people who need it most — middle- and low-income households who don't have any retirement savings at all.

Why it matters: The federal government currently spends about $250 billion per year on tax incentives for richer Americans to pay into 401(k) accounts and IRAs. The new proposal, from the Economic Innovation Group think tank, would add about $50 billion more to help most of the bottom 50% of the population.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.