Changes to Work-Related Deductions

 – March 15, 2019
Changes to Work-Related Deductions There are often costs associated with doing your job, but which ones can you deduct on your tax returns? The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made some changes to work-related deductions that you should know about as you prepare to finalize your 2018 tax return this year. Here are some items to consider: 

Unreimbursed Expenses

Many organizations will cover expenses that workers incur as part of their jobs, but some do not – or only cover them partially. Before the new tax law took effect in 2018, you were able to deduct unreimbursed business expenses that exceeded 2% of your adjusted gross income. That included money spent on travel, transportation and entertainment, professional society dues, work-related education, uniforms, home office expenses and costs for seeking a new job, among other things. Beginning with the 2018 tax year – i.e. the return you are filing this year – those deductions are no longer available.

Employee Knowledge

Be sure you understand your employer’s reimbursement policy and find out if your state requires employers to reimburse workers for work-related expenses and mileage.  If your employer will reimburse your expenses, don’t forget to document and claim all your expenses so that you get any available reimbursements. If a cost isn’t covered, track the money you spend and see if you can make a case to have your employer pay them since organizations can deduct them as business expenses. Be aware that if work expenses push your net pay below the federal minimum wage, federal law mandates that your employer cover those expenses.

Costs of Moving for a Job

You get your dream job, but you’re going to have to relocate as a result. In the past, you were eligible to deduct expenses for a move that was work-related and for a job that was at least 50 miles farther from your home than your current position. In addition, you had to work full time for no less than 39 weeks at the new location in the first year (longer for self-employed workers). Beginning with your 2018 return, those deductions are gone, although there are exceptions for those in the armed forces. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to inquire about any prospective employer’s policy on moving costs because the organization may reimburse you. If they don’t, you’ll have to factor the added costs into your decision to jump to a new position. Remember that moving expenses aren’t the only potential cost to consider if you’re thinking of relocating for a job. You’ll want to know, for example, how the cost of buying or renting a home and property taxes will compare with prices in your current community and be aware of any potential differences in the overall cost of living. You should consider whether you’ll need new furniture in a new place or, if you’re downsizing, somewhere to store belongings that were better suited to a larger home. Many people quit their old jobs a little early so they can focus all their energy on a relocation, so add that lost income to your list of moving costs. Seeing what a relocation may cost can help you determine whether a new position is the best step for you.

Consult Your Local CPA

Every day, local CPAs offer clients expert advice on a wide variety of financial concerns, including making a major purchase or obtaining a loan. Whatever your financial questions, your CPA can help you find the answers. Locate a CPA near you with our Find-A-CPA directory.


Copyright 2020 The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.