Are Job Search Expenses Tax Deductible?

Updated on January 5, 2024

At a Glance

  • Job search expenses were previously deductible, but the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changed the rules.
  • Miscellaneous job search expenses are no longer deductible on federal tax returns.
  • Self-employed individuals may still be able to deduct job search expenses related to their business.
  • Some states may allow for job search expense deductions on state income tax returns.

Job hunting can be a costly endeavor, often involving expenses such as resume preparation services, travel for interviews, and fees for employment agencies. Prior to 2018, many of these job search expenses were potentially deductible on a taxpayer’s federal income tax return. However, with the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017, the rules regarding the deductibility of employment search expenses have changed. This article will address the current state of job search expense deductions and what taxpayers need to know.

Changes Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Before the TCJA, job search expenses were considered miscellaneous itemized deductions. Such expenses were deductible to the extent that they—along with other miscellaneous deductions—exceeded 2% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI). However, the TCJA suspended the ability to deduct miscellaneous itemized deductions for tax years 2018 through 2025.

What This Means for Job Seekers

Due to the suspension of miscellaneous itemized deductions under the TCJA, individual taxpayers can no longer deduct job search expenses on their federal tax returns. This includes costs related to:

  • Resume preparation fees
  • Travel expenses to job interviews
  • Costs associated with employment agencies
  • Any other expenses incurred in looking for a new job within your current occupation, even if you do not secure a new job

Exceptions and Workarounds

  • Self-Employed Individuals: If you are self-employed and incur job search expenses related to your business, you may still be able to deduct these costs against your business income on Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss From Business.
  • State Tax Deductibility: Some states may still allow for job search expenses to be deducted on state income tax returns, even if these deductions are disallowed at the federal level. Consult with a tax professional or review your state’s tax guidelines to determine state-level deductibility.

Tax Planning Considerations

With the elimination of job search deductions, taxpayers may need to adjust their tax planning strategies. Considerations include:

  • Evaluating whether the standard deduction resulting from the TCJA provides greater tax savings compared to itemizing deductions (which no longer include job search expenses).
  • Exploring other tax credits and deductions that could provide financial relief during job transitions, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit for education expenses.

Final Thoughts

The current tax law, as influenced by the TCJA, does not permit the deduction of job search expenses for individual taxpayers on their federal income tax returns through at least 2025. This change impacts taxpayers who previously itemized deductions and could influence financial and tax planning for those in the process of seeking new employment.

Always stay informed of changes in tax legislation by visiting the IRS website and seek professional tax advice tailored to your circumstances. Additionally, resources provided by USA.gov’s Jobs and Unemployment page offer guidance on finding a job, unemployment help, and labor laws.

Understanding your tax situation, being well-versed in the current tax rules, and finding other viable tax benefits are critical in navigating your finances effectively during a job search.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are job search expenses tax deductible under the current tax law?

No, job search expenses are no longer tax deductible on federal income tax returns.

What types of job search expenses were previously deductible?

Prior to the changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), job search expenses such as resume preparation fees, travel expenses for interviews, and costs associated with employment agencies were potentially deductible.

Can self-employed individuals still deduct job search expenses?

Self-employed individuals may still be able to deduct job search expenses related to their business against their business income on Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss From Business.

Are there any exceptions to the disallowance of job search expense deductions?

Some states may still allow for the deduction of job search expenses on state income tax returns, even if these deductions are not allowed at the federal level. It is recommended to consult with a tax professional or review your state’s tax guidelines for state-level deductibility.

What should taxpayers consider in terms of tax planning without job search expense deductions?

Taxpayers should evaluate whether the standard deduction resulting from the TCJA provides greater tax savings compared to itemizing deductions, which no longer include job search expenses. Additionally, exploring other tax credits and deductions, such as education-related credits, could provide financial relief during job transitions.

How long will the disallowance of job search expense deductions be in effect?

The disallowance of job search expense deductions is currently in effect through at least 2025.

Where can I find more information about tax laws and regulations?

You can visit the IRS website for the latest tax laws and regulations.

Are there any resources available for job seekers and individuals facing unemployment?

USA.gov‘s Jobs and Unemployment page offers guidance on finding a job, unemployment help, and information on labor laws.

How can I stay informed about changes in tax legislation?

To stay informed about changes in tax legislation, it is advisable to regularly visit the IRS website and consult with a professional tax advisor.

What should I do if I have specific questions about my own tax situation?

For specific questions regarding your own tax situation, it is recommended to seek professional tax advice tailored to your circumstances.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.