3 Job Search Expenses To Deduct This Tax Season

It’s tax season, and those who spent time and money on the job hunt last year will want to be sure to deduct all the job-search expenses the IRS allows.

As it turns out, if you spent money searching for a job within the same industry as your last or current job, there are deductions you may be leaving on the table. This is unfortunate news for the many career-transitioners I work with who are navigating a career switch into a different field from their day job, but the IRS is not interested in sponsoring your side-hustle or pipe dream.

So if you searched for a new job within your industry last year, make sure you catch these 3 totally-tax deductible job search expenses when filing your return:

1. Agency fees

Working through a temp agency or head-hunting firm  that includes fees? If you’re not going to be reimbursed for them later, it’s worth keeping those receipts and deducting any professional agency fees that you’ve incurred during your job search.

2. Professional resume preparation

Hire a career services professional to polish up your resume last year? The IRS allows you to deduct costs incurred while “preparing and mailing” your resume to prospective employees. While we can all collectively laugh out loud at that mention of snail-mailing your resume to anyone, it’s worth noting that “preparing” can certainly include the cost of editing and printing your resume with a pro.

3. Job search travel

The power of in-person informational interviews and one-on-one meetings during your job search is undeniable. When weighing the cost of hauling yourself to the city you’d love to live and work in, remember that those costs can lighten your tax load come April! Here’s the catch: you can only deduct travel expenses for trips that are primarily for job-search purposes. That means at least 50% of your waking time must be spent on job search-related endeavors, according to the IRS.

Keep in mind, there a few key exceptions to the deductions above, including that the IRS doesn’t allow you to claim job search expenses if they’re related to securing your first job (sorry new grads!). Learn more and read the fine print on the IRS site here, and always be sure to talk to a tax professional if you’re not certain.

This was originally published in my Forbes Leadership column and reposted here with permission.


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