By Yolanda M. Owens
While many of you are hitting up Cupid to plan your Valentine’s Day rendezvous this month, others are speed dialing accountants to prepare for their annual tax date with Uncle Sam. Yes, my friends. It’s tax season. And while it’s not the most exciting topic (nor comes with candy and flowers) it is a necessary evil. And for all you job seekers out there, you could get a little extra something, something from dear old Uncle Sammy for your efforts this year.
So how can your job hunt help improve the date with your tax preparer?
Believe it or not, Uncle Sam understands that pounding the pavement can put a dent in your wallet. So there is a silver lining to all those career fairs, networking events, and sweaty palms you’ve endured on your search for employment bliss. If you’re looking for a new job (even while currently employed) there are some expenses you can deduct.
- Resume Preparation Costs. So if you pay to have your resume written or revamped (ahem, check out CareerSensei Consulting) make sure to keep the receipt and bring it on your tax date.
- Job Search Travel and Transportation Costs. Uncle Sam may be willing to cut you a break for those out-of-town career fairs and interviews. So keep track of those frequent flier miles, parking receipts and cab fares you’ve accumulated while on the hunt.
- Postage, Mailing and Express Delivery Fees. While most applications processes take place online, you may find instances where snail mail (or paying to fax information) is the submission of choice. Keep the receipts.
- Outplacement or Employment Agency Fees. I like to call these employment matchmakers. As long as the agency or service is matching you with a job in your same field/profession, you can submit this as a deduction.
C’mon. You had to know there would be some stipulations. Uncle Sam’s not THAT easy. The fact you’re on the job market alone doesn’t give you a free ride on the deductions train. You need to meet a few criteria first.
- You must file an itemized tax return. So if you’re a standard deduction filer and your tax person advises you to stay that way, you’ll have the exit the deduction train here.
- The new job has to be in the same profession. If you decide to become a comedian after working as a dentist for the past 20 years, those Improv class expenses aren’t deductible.
- If you’re a job search virgin – say, your first job out of college or in the job market for the first time – unfortunately, you WON’T be able to board the deduction train either. Sorry!
- You can be currently employed. If you’re on the job but looking for greener pastures, you can still itemize your job search deductions. Bonus -- you can do this without being offered a new job.
- You can’t already have been reimbursed for the expenses. No double dipping! If your employer has already paid for your outplacement fees, or a company reimbursed you for interview travel expenses, you can’t deduct it on your taxes.
I realize this may have created some additional to-do items on your tax date prep list. However, I hope it will ease your pre-date jitters and give your wallet a much needed tax break. Happy filing!