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QUESTION: I’ve been looking for a new job – and interviewing. I’ve bought new suits, bond paper for my resume, upgraded my LinkedIn profile to the premium paid “Job Seeker” level, and even hired a career counselor. I’ve heard a lot of these expenses can be written off on my taxes! What can (and can’t) be written off with regard to my job search?
Looking for a new job can definitely rack up costs. You heard right, there are some fees that could be considered a write off on your taxes when you’re job hunting … but not everything. According to the IRS website and Publication 529 there are certain job search expenses that can be written off as miscellaneous deductions, and there are guidelines to keep in mind.
In order to even consider taking advantage of this, you need to be looking for a new job in your current or previous occupation. For example, you can deduct it if you’re presently a chef and continue looking for jobs as a chef. However if you’re a chef, and you decide to go back to school to become a dentist, you are not able to deduct the expenses when looking for a job in dentistry. Unfortunately, this also means you cannot take these deductions if you’re a new high school or college graduate searching for your first-time job.
The IRS also states you cannot have taken a “substantial break” after leaving your last position and you began your job search. There is no exact definition around what this time period is, so keep in mind you can write these fees off as long as you didn’t take a sizable amount of time before embarking on your job hunt.
The costs you spent on your new suit – no matter how dapper it makes you look for the interview – is not deductible. But other “qualified” expenses may be. For example:
- Hiring a professional resume writer and fees spent on preparing and mailing your resume
- Travel expenses when you’re travelling primarily to look for work
- Outplacement and employment agency fees, and costs for memberships to online job searching websites
Certain thresholds must be met to deduct these expenses; and if an employer reimburses you for these costs you will need to claim amounts received. When in doubt, take it to a tax pro, or refer to the IRS website to see what specifically applies to your situation.
The bottom line is – yes – there are certain job searching fees that can be a write-off on next year’s taxes. Take advantage of what the IRS is willing to help with – and remember to keep detailed documentation and get receipts! Good luck!
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