What kind of employee business expenses can I deduct?

(Note: See separate FAQ for information on auto expenses, education expenses, travel & meals, computers, and business use of your home.)

You may deduct most "ordinary and necessary" out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with your employment. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Professional or union dues (Does NOT include dues to social, athletic, meal or entertainment clubs, regardless of the percentage of business use.)
  • Publications and subscriptions
  • Uniforms and cleaning (Note: These must be UNSUITABLE to wear for personal purposes. For example, a new suit you wear at the office is not deductible, because you *could* appropriately use it for personal purposes. Whether or not you do isn't the factor.)
  • Small tools and work supplies (Major purchases must be capitalized and depreciated - See Form 4562)
  • Business telephone - You can deduct only separately-incurred business expenses for additional lines or services, long distance calls, etc. You cannot deduct any portion of the basic charge of the first residential telephone line in your home, regardless of the percentage of business use.
    - Note: Cellular telephones are in a category of assets called "Listed Property." If you are claiming a deduction for the cost or usage of a cellular phone, you must keep a written log of the minute usage, and only deduct the business percentage.
  • Malpractice insurance
  • Professional license renewals
  • Business gifts (but no more than $25 per person each year
  • Any other expenses unique to your employment. For example, if you are required to reimburse your employer for cost of breakage, cash shortages.
These expenses are deducted on Schedule A as an Employee Expense, subject to the 2% of AGI limitation.

Exceptions: Certain "performance artists" may be allowed to deduct their expenses on the front of Form 1040; see Form 2106 instructions for details. Also, the work-related expenses incurred specifically due to a physical or mental disability can be deducted without regard to the 2% limit.

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