Employee Business Expense Deductions: Who Qualifies?

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Any bookkeeping, business or tax article contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor can it be used to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.

Prior to tax reform, an employee was able to deduct unreimbursed job expenses, along with certain other miscellaneous expenses, that was more than two percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) as long as they itemized instead of taking the standard deduction. Starting in 2018, however, most taxpayers can no longer claim unreimbursed employee expenses as miscellaneous itemized deductions unless they are a qualified employee or an eligible educator.

No other type of employee is eligible to claim a deduction for unreimbursed employee expenses. In other words, employee business expenses can be deducted as an adjustment to income only for eligible educators and specific employment categories such as:

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

Qualified Expenses

A qualified expense is one that is:

    Paid or billed during the tax year

  • Used for carrying on a trade or business of being an employee, and
  • Ordinary and necessary

Nondeductible Expenses

Taxpayers should also know there are nondeductible expenses as well. Examples of nondeductible expenses include club dues, commuting expenses, fees and licenses, such as car licenses, lunches with co-workers, meals while working late, expenses to improve professional reputation, and capital expenses. A full list of nondeductible expenses can be found in Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions.

Contact us today for bookkeeping and tax help.

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