Job Search and Career Tax Deductions

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Job search expenses were potentially a tax deduction when you filed your income taxes through the 2017 tax year. However, since what's deductible on your income taxes—and what's not—is determined by the current tax law, be aware that this deduction has changed.

In December 2017, the U.S. House and Senate passed the Tax Cuts and Job Acts, with provisions that took effect in 2018 and will last through 2025. This bill suspends or eliminates many deductions, including the option to deduct job-search-related expenses.

2018–2025 Job Search Expenses Tax Deduction Elimination

For 2018 and going forward, these deductions will not be available or will change. For example, the deduction for moving expenses if you are relocating because of a job transfer, for a new job, or to start a business has been suspended through 2025.

Career/Business Related Deductions

There are some tax deductions that remain in effect for employee and business-related expenses.

Deductions for Unreimbursed Employee Expenses

Most workers can no longer claim any miscellaneous itemized deductions that are subject to the 2% of adjusted gross income limitation, including unreimbursed employee expenses. However, you may be able to deduct certain unreimbursed employee business expenses if you are an eligible educator, or if you fall into one of the following categories of employment:

  • Armed Forces reservists
  • Qualified performing artists
  • Fee-based state or local government officials
  • Employees with impairment-related work expenses

Educator Expenses

If you're an eligible educator, you can deduct up to $250 ($500 if married filing jointly and both spouses are eligible educators, but not more than $250 each) of unreimbursed trade or business expenses. Qualified expenses are amounts you paid or incurred for participation in professional development courses, books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment, and supplementary materials for use in the classroom. 

Business Owners and Self-Employed Individuals

Individuals who own a business or are self-employed may deduct car and other expenses on their tax returns. If a taxpayer uses the car for both business and personal purposes, the expenses must be split. The deduction is based on the portion of mileage used for business.

Regulations and exceptions are complex, so it makes sense to consult a tax professional to determine your ultimate eligibility and discuss the records that you need to maintain.

The information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. 

Article Sources

  1. Internal Revenue Service. "Miscellaneous Deductions," Accessed Dec. 11, 2019.