Skip to main content

COVID questions: Home office deductions; flu shot; repurposed drugs

October 8, 2020 By Kristina LeVan

Editor’s note: We will be publishing answers to questions about COVID-19 and the pandemic each week in this COVID questions column. If you have a question, please email it to

Q: I spent $250 on a new router and $500 on a new desk because my employer required me to work from home during the pandemic. Is that tax deductible?

A: The general rule is that any additional expenses incurred working from home are considered employee business expenses. This category of expense used to be deductible as a miscellaneous itemized deduction, however, those deductions are not allowed between 2018 and 2025 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. So I believe the answer is no, those expenses would not be deductible for an employee.

The answer changes, however, if you are self-employed. For a self-employed person, the rule is that you can take certain expenses as a home office deduction but only if your home is your principal place of business. That may be the case now for several self-employed people who did not previously qualify for the deduction. If you are self-employed and incur expenses while working from home, the “business portion” of those expenses should be deducted on Schedule C of your return.

– Lindsay G. Acker, Wisconsin School of Business Lecturer, Accounting and Information Systems

Q: Advantages of using known drugs start with the fact that they are safe and doctors already know their limitations (what is a safe dose and what preconditions preclude their use). Are there any known drugs, which already have FDA approval, that may be repurposed to save lives from COVID-19?

A: There are many drugs that may be repurposed for COVID-19.  The challenge comes in with establishing the evidence for the safety and effectiveness.  Whereas a medication may be vetted for use for a certain condition (known as the “indication” by the FDA), the translation to COVID-19 can be precarious.  Two examples out there are hydroxychloroquine (now considered to have no benefit with significant risk) and dexamethasone (which is likely to be beneficial in high risk cases).

– Jonathan L. Temte, MD/PhD, Associate Dean for Public Health and Community Engagement, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Q: You recommend getting a flu shot, but where is it safest to get one?  At a clinic? Retail pharmacy? Elsewhere?

A: Any place that offers a flu shot where there is no line (such as a doctor’s office) is efficient. They should also have a supplies of hand sanitizer, masks, etc. available.

– Nasia Safdar, Professor, School of Medicine and Public Health; Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention at UW Health

See more answers to COVID questions at Also, visit our COVID-19 impact site.