They say nothing is certain except for death and taxes. However, the amount of taxes you pay isn’t necessarily a hard and fast figure. Case in point: If you have work-related expenses that aren’t reimbursed by your employer, there may be deductions you can claim.
There are precise criteria and limits to your tax write offs, so it may take you some time to establish which deductions are legit. But at the end of the day, you may be surprised by how much money you can shave off the bottom line of your tax bill.
If you applied for jobs in 2014, you may be able to deduct your job hunting expenses, even if you didn’t end up landing a new job.
To qualify, you have to have looked for work in the same field as your most recent job, so you can’t claim this deduction if you were looking for your first job.
You can write off the cost of printing your resumes and postage, as well as the cost of advertising, or using an employment agency. You may also be able to deduct travel costs, including gas, parking, tolls, and public transport fares.
If you landed a new job in 2014 and it required you to move, you may be able to claim a deduction for moving expenses. There are a few requirements to claim this deduction.
Compared to your old workplace, your new workplace must be at least 50 miles farther from your old home. If it’s your first job, the distance from your old home to your workplace must be a minimum of 50 miles.
Beyond that, your move must have taken place within one year of your first day at work. After the move, you must work full time in that general geographical area for at least 39 weeks of the next 12 months, although you don’t necessarily have to work for the same company.
If you qualify, you can write off your moving expenses, including packing, shipping, storage lockers, temporary lodging, gas, tolls, parking and utility service disconnection / connection fees.
You can write off licensing fees, regulatory fees and occupational taxes that you pay to the government to be able to work in your profession. If you have to take out an insurance policy for work, such as malpractice insurance, you can also deduct your insurance premium.
Dues to Professional Societies and Unions
The membership fees to unions and professional societies are deductible. However, you can’t deduct the portion of union fees that covers your pension fund and your sick, accident or death benefits. Additionally, lobbying and political organizations don’t count as professional societies.
The cost of traveling from home to work is considered personal expense, which is unfortunately not deductible. However, there may be some commute-related expenses you’re able to claim.
In a nutshell, you can write off the cost of working in two or more places in one day. For example, you can deduct the cost of traveling between two offices or more, visiting your clients, attending business meetings at places other than your office, or getting from your home to a temporary workplace.
However, if you don’t have a permanent office, you can’t deduct the typical costs of commuting within your metropolitan area.
Subscriptions to trade or business publications are deductible. These subscriptions can be for magazines, journals, newspapers or other types of publications that help you perform better at work.
If you made a prepayment for your subscription, you have to prorate the cost for the tax year. For example, if you paid in advance for a two-year subscription to a monthly magazine in 2014, you will need to divide the prepayment by 24 months and only deduct the cost for the editions you received during the 2014 tax year.
You may be able to deduct purchases for work-related items. Possible deductible purchases include business cards, computers, safety equipment and tools. If you have to wear a work uniform that you can’t wear outside of work, you can also write off the cost of the clothes.
To be able to write off the cost of a work-related trip expenses, the trip must last one year or less. You can deduct taxi fares, airfares and train tickets. Additionally, you can deduct the cost of baggage, passport application, laundry, phone calls and tips.
However, you must be able to prove that the reason for the trip was professional in nature.
Meals and Entertainment
A portion of the cost of meals eaten while you’re away on a business trip are deductible. You can choose to either write off 50 percent of the actual cost of each meal or write off 50 percent of the standard meal allowance per day for the destination of the trip.
You can also deduct 50 percent of the costs of meals you have while entertaining clients and business associates, even if they don’t happen during a business trip. The meals just have to be directly related to the business.
If you served on jury duty, you were paid a fee for it to compensate for your loss of income from missed work. This jury pay counts as taxable income.
Some employers, instead of cutting the employees’ pay for the days they miss work, continue to pay full salaries to employees on jury duty. If your employer does this, you may be required to turn over your jury pay to the company. In this case, you would be taxed for the jury pay that you didn’t keep—unless you claim it as a deduction.
As always, if you’re unsure of which deductions may be considered legitimate by the IRS—or if you’re afraid you’re missing out on deductions—consult with a professional before filing your taxes.
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