Are Union Dues Tax Deductible?

Updated on January 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • Labor union dues were deductible before the TCJA
  • TCJA suspended miscellaneous itemized deductions
  • Union dues may still be deductible for self-employed individuals
  • Document and keep records of union dues for future tax changes

Labor union members may pay dues or fees as part of their membership to support union activities like collective bargaining and legal representation. These dues can be a significant yearly expense, prompting many workers to question whether union dues are deductible on their federal income tax returns. The answer, as with many tax questions, has been impacted by recent changes to the tax law. This article will outline the current tax treatment of union dues under the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines.

Deductibility of Union Dues Before and After TCJA

Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, employees could potentially deduct union dues as miscellaneous itemized deductions to the extent that they, along with other miscellaneous deductions, exceeded 2% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI). However, the TCJA suspended miscellaneous itemized deductions for tax years 2018 through 2025. As a result, union dues and similar work-related expenses are no longer deductible for most taxpayers during this period.

Current IRS Guidance on Union Dues

With the elimination of miscellaneous itemized deductions under the TCJA, employees can no longer deduct union dues on their personal tax returns. However, there are a few scenarios where union dues might still play a role in tax deductions:

  • Self-Employed Workers: If you are self-employed and your union membership is directly related to your trade or business, you may still deduct union dues as a business expense on Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss From Business.
  • Professional Dues: Similar rules apply to self-employed individuals who pay professional dues if they are ordinary, necessary, and related to the business.

For specific guidance on business deductions, including membership dues, review IRS Publication 535, Business Expenses.

How to Adjust to the Tax Change

Employees who were accustomed to deducting union dues and other unreimbursed employee expenses must adjust their tax planning strategies, considering that these deductions are no longer available.

Documentation and Record Keeping

Although union dues are not currently deductible for most taxpayers, it’s essential to keep receipts and records of these expenses. Should tax laws change or for self-employed workers claiming the deduction, having documentation to support your deduction claim remains necessary.

Final Thoughts

Many workers have been affected by the TCJA’s suspension of miscellaneous itemized deductions, which includes the deduction for union dues. While union members who are employees cannot currently deduct these expenses on their personal tax returns, being aware of the latest tax regulations is key for effective tax planning and preparation.

Taxpayers, especially self-employed individuals, should consult a tax professional to ensure they understand their deduction opportunities fully. Staying up-to-date with the latest tax news from the IRS website and tools like the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator can help employees navigate the effects of tax law changes on their finances.

As always with tax matters, individual situations can vary, so obtaining personalized advice from a tax advisor is advisable. Should tax laws change again in the future, being informed will allow you to take immediate advantage of any restored deductions for union dues.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I deduct union dues on my federal income tax return?

Under the current tax law, union dues are generally not deductible for most taxpayers. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) suspended miscellaneous itemized deductions, which included union dues, for tax years 2018 through 2025.

Are union dues deductible for self-employed individuals?

Self-employed individuals may be able to deduct union dues as a business expense if the union membership is directly related to their trade or business. The deduction would be claimed on Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss From Business.

Can I still deduct professional dues?

Similar to union dues, self-employed individuals can potentially deduct professional dues as a business expense if they are ordinary, necessary, and related to their business.

Where can I find more information on business deductions?

For specific guidance on business deductions, including membership dues, you can refer to IRS Publication 535, Business Expenses.

Should I keep records of union dues even if they are not deductible?

Yes, it is important to keep receipts and records of union dues and other expenses, even if they are not currently deductible. Having documentation to support your deduction claim may be necessary in case tax laws change or for self-employed individuals claiming the deduction.

Can I deduct union dues if I am no longer an employee?

The deductibility of union dues depends on your current employment status and the nature of your union membership. As an employee, union dues are generally not deductible. However, if you are self-employed and the union membership is directly related to your trade or business, you may be able to deduct union dues as a business expense.

Will union dues become deductible again in the future?

Tax laws can change, and it is possible that deductions for union dues may be restored in the future. Staying informed about the latest tax regulations and consulting a tax professional can help you navigate any changes and take advantage of available deductions.

How can I adjust my tax planning without the deduction for union dues?

With the suspension of the deduction for union dues, it is important to review and adjust your tax planning strategies. Consider consulting a tax professional who can provide personalized advice based on your specific situation.

Where can I find the latest tax news and resources?

The IRS website (https://www.irs.gov/) is a valuable resource for the latest tax news and information. Additionally, tools like the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator (https://www.irs.gov/individuals/tax-withholding-estimator) can help you navigate the effects of tax law changes on your finances.

Can I still consult a tax professional for advice on union dues?

Yes, it is always advisable to consult a tax professional, especially when dealing with specific tax deductions and changes in tax laws. They can provide personalized advice based on your individual 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.