If you are unfortunate enough to be out work, you may be spending time attending career fairs and traveling around looking and interviewing for employment. Some of the expenses you incur attempting to secure employment may be deductible on your tax return.

Here are several things you should know about deducting costs related to your job search.

  1. To qualify for a deduction, the expenses must be spent on a job search in your current occupation. You may not deduct expenses you incur while looking for a job in a new occupation.
  2. You can deduct employment and outplacement agency fees you pay while looking for a job in your present occupation. If your employer pays you back in a later year for employment agency fees, you must include the amount you receive in your gross income, up to the amount of your tax benefit in the earlier year.
  3. You can deduct amounts you spend for preparing and mailing copies of your résumé to prospective employers as long as you are looking for a new job in your present occupation.
  4. If you travel to an area to look for a new job in your present occupation, you may be able to deduct travel expenses to and from the area. You can only deduct the travel expenses if the trip is primarily to look for a new job. The amount of time you spend on personal activity compared to the amount of time you spend looking for work is important in determining whether the trip is primarily personal or is primarily to look for a new job. Use of your automobile in 2011 for the travel is deductible at 51 cents per job search mile during the first six months of the year and 55.5 cents per mile for the last six months of the year. The fares for other forms of transportation are also deductible. Lodging and 50% of your meal costs also count when traveling away from home overnight.
  5. You cannot deduct job search expenses if there was a substantial break between the end of your last job and the time you begin looking for a new one.
  6. You cannot deduct job-search expenses if you are looking for a job for the first time.
  7. The job search expenses are included with other miscellaneous itemized deductions that are reduced by 2% of your adjusted gross income, and therefore may be limited. If you use the standard deduction instead of itemizing deductions, you cannot deduct any of your job-search expenses.

If you have additional questions related to job-search expenses, please give this office a call.

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