Many clients ask me what they can deduct, so I am
providing the following lists of possible deductions. The lists are only
meant to give you ideas, or steer you in the right direction. They are not
all-inclusive and not all items are deductible all the time. Many are subject
to limitations, may only apply in certain situations or are governed by other
rules. Please keep careful records and save your
receipts for 3 years in case of audit.
Schedule A Expenses
Taxes You Paid
State and local income taxes or general sales
Foreign income tax
Estimated tax payments
Prior year's state and local income tax you paid during the
tax year (do not include penalties).
Disability insurance tax (some states)
Real estate tax
(state, local or foreign).
Portion of condo and coop maintenance that
real estate tax.
Personal property taxes based on value. This includes auto registration or licensing
fees, but only the portion based on value, and only if charged on a yearly
basis. Varies by state.
Interest You Paid
Late payment charge on mortgage payment
Mortgage prepayment penalties
Points on principal residence financing
Mortgage insurance premiums
Gifts to Charity
Charitable contributions (cash and non-cash) made to qualified U.S.
charities and certain charities in Mexico, Canada and Israel.
Mileage to donate goods to charity or to perform charitable services.
Employees (Form 2106):
Includes expenses for your job for which you weren’t reimbursed, but you
only get the amount in excess of 2% of your AGI (adjusted gross income), and
only if you can itemize. For instance, if your AGI is $100,000, you must have
at least $2,000 in employee business expenses/miscellaneous expenses before you will begin to benefit
from the deduction.
Self-Employed (Schedule C):
You are allowed to deduct most business expenses in full. Meals are
deducted at 50%.
IRS Publication 535 for
Advertising and Promotion Expenses (Self-employed)
Books and Publications
Books, trade journals, newspapers and publications for your trade or
to a professional organization for people in your profession
Union dues, initiation fees, and assessments for benefit payments to
unemployed union members.
Regulatory fees for your profession
to chambers of commerce and similar organizations if the membership helps
you carry out your job duties (see exceptions).
Licenses paid to state or local governments
Education and Research
Educational expenses related to your present work that maintains or improves
Equipment and Supplies
Business use of computer. Employees: Must be for the convenience of your
employer and required as a condition of your employment.
Supplies and tools you use in your work
Expenses for an office in your home IF part of the home is used regularly
and exclusively for your work. Employees: the use of your home office must
also be for the convenience of your employer.
more information, see IRS
Employees: Must be for the convenience of your employer and required as a
condition of your employment.
hunting expenses (Employees)
To deduct job hunting
expenses, you must be looking for a job in your present line of work (i.e.,
you’re not changing professions or looking for your first job). Expenses
Resume preparation (drafting, typing, printing, mailing, faxing)
Employment agency fees
Executive recruiters’ fees
Portfolio preparation costs
Career counseling to assist you in improving your position
Legal and accounting fees you pay in connection with employment contract
negotiations and preparation
Transportation costs to job interviews
distance calls to prospective employers
Newspapers you purchase to read the employment ads
Other business publications you purchase to read the employment ads
of your meals you pay for that are directly related to your job search
you take a trip away from home to look for a new job, your expenses for
traveling, lodging, meals (50% of the cost), etc. are deductible only if the
primary purpose of your trip is to look for a job. To substantiate the
purpose of your trip, keep a daily log of your interviews, application
Meals and Entertainment
Meals and entertaining costs with a clear business purpose (i.e., meeting
with clients) (only 50% of the cost is deductible). Keep a
record of the date, place, amount of expenses, people present, business
purpose, and business discussed. Also keep receipts for expenses in excess
more information, see IRS
Business use of cellular phone.
of long-distance business calls charged to home phone
Separate business telephone (home phone line is not deductible)
Travel and Transportation
Traveling costs incurred while away from home on business
Traveling costs paid in connection with a temporary work assignment
Transportation between your home and a temporary work location if you have
no regular place of work but you ordinarily work in the metropolitan area
where you live and the temporary work location is outside that area
Transportation between your home and a temporary work location if you have
at least one regular workplace for this employment. It doesn’t matter how
far away the temporary location is in this case.
Transportation from one job to another if you work two places in one day
you are self-employed and your home is your principal place of business, all
business travel is deductible.
more information, see IRS
Uniforms and Gear
Protective clothing and gear
Uniforms (except if you’re full-time active duty in the armed forces)
cleaning costs for your uniforms or protective clothing (not for your
everyday clothing, though)
Specialized clothing designed for your job, as long as it's not suitable for
Safety equipment, such as hard hats, safety glasses, safety boots, and
Gifts, but only up to $25 per recipient
Passport if needed for business travel
Printing and copying
Legal and professional services (tax preparation fee)
Medical exams required by your employer
Occupational taxes if they’re charged at a flat rate by your city or other
local government for the privilege of working in that area
Business liability insurance premiums
dismissal insurance premiums
Damages you pay to a former employer for a breach of employment contract
Employee contributions to state disability funds
Interest on business loans
Self-Employed health insurance (partial)
Commissions and fees
Keogh or SEP contributions
Rental of business property
Office rent and utilities
Repairs and maintenance
Business taxes and licenses
Qualified Medical Expenses
Generally, you can only
deduct the excess over 10% of Adjusted Gross Income (7.5% if over 65), and then only if you can
itemize on Schedule A. This means that if you make $100,000, you can only
deduct the amount of medical expenses you spent over $10,000. Please
also refer to
IRS Publication 502: Medical Expenses.
conditioner necessary for relief from allergies or other respiratory
Birth control pills prescribed by a doctor
Braille books and magazines used by a visually-impaired person
clarinet and lessons to treat the improper alignment of a child’s upper and
Cosmetic surgery to improve a deformity
Dental fees and supplies
Diet, special. When prescribed by a doctor, you can deduct the extra cost of
purchasing special food to alleviate a specific medical condition.
Doctor or physician expenses
Elastic hosiery to treat blood circulation problems
Exercise program if recommended by doctor to treat a specific condition
Extra rent/utilities for a larger apartment required in order to provide
space for a nurse/attendant
surgery, when it is not for cosmetic purposes only
Fertility treatment: Limited to procedures such as
in vitro fertilization (including
temporary storage of eggs or sperm) and surgery, including an operation to
reverse prior surgery that prevented the person operated on from having
Household help for nursing care services only
Insurance premiums for medical care coverage
Lead-based paint removal where a child has or had lead poisoning
Legal fees paid to authorize treatment for mental illness
Lifetime care advance payments
Lodging expenses while away from home to receive medical care in a hospital
or medical facility
Long-term care insurance and long term care expenses (with limitations)
Mattresses and boards bought specifically to alleviate an arthritic
Medical aids. This includes wheelchairs, hearing aids and batteries,
eyeglasses, contact lenses, crutches, braces, and guide dogs (including
costs paid for their care).
Medical conference admission costs and travel expenses for a chronically ill
person or a parent of a chronically ill child to learn about new medical
Medicines and prescription drugs
Nursing home expenses if the there to obtain medical care.
Oxygen and oxygen equipment.
Reclining chair bought on a doctor’s advice by a person with a cardiac
Special education tuition of mentally impaired or physically disabled
Smoking cessation programs.
Swimming costs, if therapeutic and prescribed by a physician.
Telephone cost, repair and equipment for a hearing-impaired person.
Television equipment to display the audio part of a TV program for
Transplants of an organ, but not hair transplants.
Transportation costs for obtaining medical care.
Travel expenses for parents visiting their child in a special school for
children with drug problems, where the visits are part of the medical
Weight loss program, if it is recommended by a doctor to treat a specific
medical condition or to cure any specific ailment or disease
Whirlpool baths prescribed by a doctor.
for the mental health of a patient who lost his or her hair due to a
Expenses You Cannot Deduct
People commonly hope to deduct some of the following expenses,
but unfortunately they are not deductible.
Non-Deductible Miscellaneous Expenses:
- Expenses that were
reimbursed by your employer.
- Clothing that is adaptable
to everyday wear (this includes suits, evening wear, etc.).
- Commuting costs (subways
and rail fares, and vehicle use including tolls, gasoline, and parking).
Exception if qualified as being away from home on business or as part of
- Dues to country clubs,
golf and athletic clubs, and airline and hotel clubs.
- Job hunting expenses if
you’re looking for your first job, or changing professions.
- Dry cleaning and laundry
(unless you’re on a business trip)
- Immigration visa expenses,
such as for obtaining a Green Card or H-1B visa.
- Moving expenses that were
not associated with your job.
- Moving expenses if you are
claiming temporary living expenses.
- Meals, unless for business
meetings, or while away from home on business. Also, allowable as part of
- Lunch on the job.
- Personal expenses, such as
grooming and maintenance (gym membership) unless they are directly related
to your business (e.g., models, actors).
- Any other personal
expenses for which there is no provision for a deduction in the Tax Code.
- Interest on personal
- Support of family members,
with the exception of specific expenses, such as dependent care, for
- Personal vacations.
- Cosmetic surgery to
improve personal appearance
- Contributions made to
individuals or foreign charities.
- Student loan interest if
adjusted gross income is greater than $75,000 (single) or $150,000
- Student loan principal.
Nondeductible Home Expenses.
Some exceptions for rental properties.
Mortgage principal payments
Homeowner's association fees.
Apartment rent, unless
qualified to claim away from home expenses for a business trip expected to
last one year or less (Temporary
Living Expenses), or if a portion is used as a home office (special
rules apply to both cases). Also, may be deductible if maintained for the
sole purpose of going to school if your education expenses qualify for the
business deduction. Exception: Some states provide a
deduction for rent (e.g., New Jersey and Massachusetts).
Insurance (other than mortgage insurance premiums), including
fire and comprehensive coverage, and title insurance.
Wages you pay for domestic help.
The cost of utilities, such as gas, electricity, or water.
Most settlement fees, closing costs, and legal fees involved in purchasing a property
Forfeited deposits, down payments, or earnest money.
Home phone line
Nondeductible Taxes and Fees.
Fees for taking an exam to
qualify you in a profession (e.g., Bar Exam, GRE, etc.)
Personal purpose license fees (e.g., marriage,
driver's license, dog, etc.)
Employment taxes. This
includes social security, Medicare, and railroad retirement taxes
withheld from your pay. However, one-half of self-employment tax you pay
is deductible. In addition, the social security and other employment
taxes you pay on the wages of a household worker may be included in
medical expenses that you can deduct or child care expenses that allow
you to claim the child and dependent care credit.
Estate, inheritance, legacy, or succession
taxes. However, you
can deduct the estate tax attributable to income in respect of a
decedent if you, as a beneficiary, must include that income in your
gross income. In that case, deduct the estate tax as a miscellaneous
deduction that is not subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit.
Federal income taxes. This
includes income taxes withheld from your pay.
Fines and penalties. You
cannot deduct fines and penalties paid to a government for violation of
any law, including related amounts forfeited as collateral deposits.
Per capita taxes. You
cannot deduct state or local per capita taxes.