Which Medical Supplies are Tax Deductible?

Dietrich Easter

Are you curious if you can deduct medical supplies on your taxes? This article will offer some guidance on which medical supplies are tax-deductible. 


Often, if a physician prescribes medical supplies, you will be in line for some tax deductions. However, whenever you're dealing with taxes, there are some confusing guidelines for deducting medical supplies. 


The only way to know for sure if your medical supplies will be tax-deductible is to contact a tax professional. With that said, this article will provide you with some resources to get started. 


Let's jump in! 

Are All Medical Supplies Tax Deductible? 

First, for medical supplies or equipment to be tax-deductible, they must be paid out-of-pocket. Why is this an issue? Well, some people may be reimbursed for medical equipment by their insurance. If this is the case, they are typically unable to deduct these medical supplies when filing taxes. 


Second, you must deduct the expenses the year you purchased them. For example, if you purchased the supplies in 2021, you'd need to deduct them in the corresponding tax return. 


But which medical supplies are tax-deductible? Is your first aid kit tax deductible? 


The IRS website offers some guidance.


I'll reiterate: this article is not tax advice; it's merely a commentary offering some guidance. Tax rules and regulations can change from year to year, so the best way to ensure something is truly tax-deductible is to contact the IRS and/or consult with a certified tax professional. 


With that said, I'll share what I've found on this topic. 

List of Tax-Deductible Medical Supplies

You can deduct almost any medical supplies if a physician has specifically prescribed it to treat medical ailments. 


For example, here are some medical supplies the IRS website lists as possible tax deductions: 


  • Wigs. If you have a medical condition that has resulted in hair loss, the IRS website states you can list wig expenses on your tax deduction. However, if you're buying a wig for personal use, it's reasonable to assume this wouldn't be deductible. 

  • Home renovations. If you or a family member has a medical condition that prevents them from using the stairs or taking a shower, renovations may qualify for a tax deduction. For example, if your family member requires a ramp to get into the front door or handlebars in the bathroom, these may be deductible. 

  • Pregnancy tests. Over-the-counter purchases like pregnancy tests can also be deducted, as well as other fertility-related expenses. 

  • Glasses. If you're paying for eyeglasses or contact lenses, you should be able to deduct those expenses from your tax return. However, buying non-essential glasses, like sunglasses, are unlikely to fall under the umbrella of tax deduction. 

  • Dentures. That’s right, you can also deduct medical expenses related to dental health.


This section has dealt with a few medical expenses related to illness or disease. However, what about medical expenses aimed at prevention and first aid? 


We will talk more about these in the next section. 

Are First Aid Supplies Tax Deductible? 

In Publication 502 on the IRS website, first aid supplies are not explicitly mentioned within the tax-deductible medical expenses. However, some supplies are mentioned that closely resemble first aid supplies.


For example, bandages are included as a tax-deductible medical expense. Here is what the section from the IRS states: 


"You can include in medical expenses the cost of medical supplies such as bandages." 


As you probably know, "bandages" is a broad term. With the language used in this section, it's clear that things like bandages could be tax-deductible.


Based on information gleaned from the rest of the IRS information, it seems clear that, if you have a medical condition that requires bandages, then the bandages would be tax-deductible. 


For example, if you have a pressure wound on the back of your heel, the medical supplies used to treat that wound would be tax-deductible. 


As with any rule, there seems to be uncertain middle ground. What about something like a tourniquet? Is a tourniquet or a pocket mask tax deductible? 


Let's tackle these questions. 


Here are a few things we'll look at: 


  • Are masks and personal protective equipment tax deductible? 

  • Can you deduct first aid gear like tourniquets and CPR masks? 

  • Are over-the-counter medications tax deductible? 


Below, we'll answer these questions in more depth. 

Are Masks and Personal Protective Equipment Tax Deductible? 

The IRS released a statement that clarified that masks, such as the N95 mask, are tax-deductible. However, this went further than N95 masks, and also includes hand sanitizer, and even sanitizing wipes are deductible. 


It's reasonable to guess that medical gloves might fall under this category if you're using them for proper personal protection. 


So, if you've spent significant money on masks, then you may be looking at a break at the end of the year. 

Are Tourniquets and CPR Masks Tax Deductible? 

The answer to this question is slightly more ambiguous, as I could not find any language on the IRS website that directly addressed these specific kinds of emergency medical gear. 


A tourniquet might be tax deductible if the person carrying it might need the tourniquet in a high-risk job. It’s unclear if a tourniquet in an everyday first aid kit would be tax deductible. Similarly, a CPR mask might be tax deductible if a person (someone in the same household as the buyer) has recently experienced (or is at risk of experiencing) respiratory failure.


To get a better answer on both these pieces of gear, it wouldn’t hurt to consult a tax professional.


Here are a few other pieces of gear that might fall under this category: 


  • Hemostatic agents. Hemostatics might be tax-deductible if you need them for a specific purpose. For example, someone in your family must take regular blood-thinning medication. In this case, it could be argued that having hemostatic dressings is a safety measure if the person is ever injured.

  • Emergency equipment. This category is broad. Things like emergency blankets might not be tax-deductible. However, if you have a family member who is has a medical condition that presupposes them to hypothermia (and you reside in a particularly cold climate), then perhaps you could deduct this type of equipment. 

  • Oxygen masks. If you or someone in your family needs oxygen, then the equipment you pay for is tax-deductible. This includes the oxygen cylinder itself and things like an oxygen bag, a nasal canula, or a non-rebreather mask. In this same vein, a prescribed CPAP or BiPAP machine would also likely be tax-deductible. 

  • Pressure Bandages. Something like an Israeli bandage might not be tax-deductible normally; however, again, if you have a medical reason for requiring one of these pressure bandages, then it may indeed be tax-deductible. 


Hopefully, this guide has given you some idea about what supplies are or are not tax-deductible. 

Are Over the Counter Medications Tax Deductible? 

The IRS website states that only medications that your physician prescribes are tax-deductible. 


So, buying antacid tablets over the counter is likely not tax-deductible. 


Also, things like vitamins and health supplements are explicitly stated as non-deductible. However, if your physician prescribes them, this could change the story. 

Key Takeaway on Tax Deductible Medical Supplies 

If you're trying to determine whether your medical supplies are tax-deductible, there are two people you should talk with: your physician and a tax professional. 




Because medical supplies that are tax-deductible for one person might not be tax deductible for another.


Final note: medical expenses are only tax-deductible if they exceed 7.5 percent of your AGI (adjusted gross income). So, if you're looking to buy a bunch of medical supplies and deduct them, then you might be out of luck. However, if you pay significant medical expenses each year, it's certainly worthwhile to save receipts on medical gear. 


Regardless of tax deductions, it is always wise to have a solid first aid kit on hand. Gear like the tourniquet has saved many lives. Taking the time to get training in using a tourniquet is worth more than money.