Tax Tips for Job Hunters

Updated for Tax Year 2017


OVERVIEW

It's been said by many that looking for a job is a job in itself. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows the deduction related to some costs of job hunting, the same way employees can deduct some unreimbursed job expenses. Not all job searches qualify, though, so it's wise to educate yourself on the rules.


For tax years prior to 2018, job search expenses can be a valuable deduction. However, with the change in many tax laws passed by congress in 2017, these expenses are no longer deductible after the 2017 tax year.

Circumstances matter

Some job-hunting expenses are tax-deductible, but not all. According to the IRS, expenses are deductible if the following conditions are met:

  • The job you’re seeking is in your current occupation. If the job search involves a new line of work, your expenses aren't deductible.
  • You’re not looking for your first job.
  • There has not been a "substantial break" between the time you left your last job and the time you started looking for a new one. The IRS doesn't define how long of a break is "substantial." It may depend on the circumstances.

Deductible job-hunting expenses

In general, any money you spend in your efforts to find a new job may qualify as a tax deduction. This includes:

  • Costs of printing and mailing job-application materials, such as resumes and portfolios.
  • Fees paid to employment agencies, outplacement agencies or "headhunters."
  • Travel and transportation costs associated with visiting an area to research a job.

Be sure you save all receipts and account statements to support your deductions. You can only deduct expenses that are not reimbursed. For example, if you travel to a job interview, and the potential employer pays you back for your travel expenses, you can't deduct them.

Claiming the deduction

You can deduct job-hunting expenses only if you itemize your tax deductions. The IRS classifies these costs as "miscellaneous deductions," along with a variety of other things, such as unreimbursed employee expenses, investment fees, expenses for a money-making hobby and money lost when a bank fails.

To do this, first add up all your miscellaneous deductions, including job-search costs. Then subtract 2% of your adjusted gross income, as shown on your tax return. Whatever is left over is your deduction. For example, if your AGI is $55,000 and you have “miscellaneous deductions” that total $2,000:

  • $55,000 x .02 = $1,100
  • $2,000 - $1,100 = $900 is the deduction you can claim

Other things to note

Beyond deducting expenses, people in the job market should be aware of some other items in the tax code:

  • If you pay someone to watch your children or other dependents while you look for work, you may be able to take the child and dependent care tax credit.
  • Unemployment compensation is generally considered taxable income. At year's end, you should receive a copy of Form 1099-G telling you how much you received and how much tax, if any, was withheld.
  • If you decide to go back to school, you may qualify for tax breaks for education.

All you need to know is yourself

Just answer simple questions about your life, and TurboTax Federal Free will take care of the rest.

For only $0.00*
Start for Free

Looking for more information?

* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • TURBOTAX ONLINE/MOBILE

  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Absolute Zero $0 federal (forms 1040EZ/1040A) + $0 state limited time offer only available with TurboTax Free Edition; offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer with TurboTax Self-Employed and TurboTax Live for Extension Filers: To receive your complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed through 10/31/19, you must pay for your 2017 TurboTax Self-Employed or TurboTax Live return between 4/18/18 and 10/15/18 and sign-in and access your QuickBooks Self-Employed account via mobile app or at https://selfemployed.intuit.com/turbotax at least twice by 12/31/18. You will have the option of renewing your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription by 10/31/19 for another year at the then-current subscription rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time from within the QuickBooks Self-Employed billing section. See QuickBooks.com for price comparison. Offer not valid for existing QuickBooks Self-Employed subscribers already on a paid subscription.
  • Pays for itself (TurboTax Self-Employed): Estimates based on deductible business expenses calculated at the self-employment tax income rate (15.3%) for tax year 2017. Actual results will vary based on your tax situation.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • TurboTax Live Reviews: Displayed reviews are for the TurboTax Live standalone service from Tax Year 2017 and not for the new Turbo Tax product / TurboTax Live bundle available for Tax Year 2018.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: A $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax Help and Support: Access to a TurboTax specialist is included with TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed and TurboTax Live; not included with Free Edition (but is available as an upgrade). TurboTax specialists are available to provide general customer help and support using the TurboTax product. SmartLook on-screen help is available on a PC, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, wait times, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • Tax Advice, Expert Review and TurboTax Live: Access to tax advice and Expert Review (the ability to have a Tax Expert review and/or sign your tax return) is included with TurboTax Live or as an upgrade from another version, and available through October 15, 2018. These services are provided only by credentialed CPAs, EAs or tax attorneys. State tax advice is free. Some tax topics or situations may not be included as part of this service, which shall be determined in the tax expert’s sole discretion. In the event your return is reviewed by a tax expert and requires a significant level of tax advice or actual preparation, the tax expert may be required to sign your return as the preparer at which point they will assume primary responsibility for the preparation of your return. Expert Review [and TurboTax Live] not available on the TurboTax mobile app or when using a web browser on your mobile phone. On-screen help is available on a PC, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, wait times, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • Tax Return Access and My Docs features: Included with TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed, TurboTax Live or with PLUS benefits. Access to all tax-related documents we have on file for you is available through 10/31/2019. Terms and conditions may vary and are subject to change without notice.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2016 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.
  • CompleteCheck: Covered under the TurboTax accurate calculations and maximum refund guarantees.
  • #1 rated online tax prep provider: Based on independent comparison of the best online tax software by TopTenReviews.com March 13, 2017.
  • Get tips based on your tax and credit data to help get you to where you want to be: Tax and credit data accessed upon your consent.
  • The tax reform consulting promotion is a free offer subject to cancellation at any time without notice. The promotion is limited to one 15min consultation per person with a tax expert. The consult will be solely for the purpose of explaining the impacts of tax reform, the tax expert will not give advice or tax prep guidance on prior year taxes.
  • TURBOTAX GUARANTEES

  • 100% Accurate Calculations Guarantee: If you pay an IRS or state penalty or interest because of a TurboTax calculation error, we’ll pay you the penalty and interest.
  • Maximum Refund Guarantee - or Your Money Back: If you get a larger refund or smaller tax due from another tax preparation method, we'll refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state purchase price paid. TurboTax Online Free Edition customers are entitled to payment of $14.99 and a refund of your state purchase price paid.
  • 100% Accurate, Expert Approved Guarantee: If you pay an IRS or state penalty (or interest) because of an error that a TurboTax CPA or EA made while signing your return, we’ll pay you the penalty and interest. We’ll also amend your return at no additional cost.
  • Audit Support Guarantee: If you received an audit letter based on your 2017 TurboTax return and are not satisfied with how we responded to your inquiry, we’ll refund the applicable TurboTax federal 1040 and/or state purchase price you paid. TurboTax Free Edition customers are entitled to payment of $14.99 and a refund of your state purchase price paid. We will not represent you or provide legal advice. Excludes TurboTax Business.
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed:
    • If you use TurboTax Online or Mobile: Satisfaction Guaranteed — or you don't pay. You may use TurboTax Online without charge up to the point you decide to print or electronically file your tax return. Printing or electronically filing your return reflects your satisfaction with TurboTax Online, at which time you will be required to pay or register for the product.
    • If you bought or downloaded TurboTax from a retailer: Try TurboTax software. If you're not satisfied, return it to Intuit within 60 days of purchase with your dated receipt for a full refund.
    • If you bought or downloaded TurboTax directly from us: Try TurboTax software. If you're not satisfied, return it within 60 days of shipment with your dated receipt for a full refund (excluding shipping & handling).
  • TURBOTAX CD/DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE

  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: A $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except TurboTax Business.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2017 TurboTax products.
  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies; may require a free Intuit online account. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2016 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2014 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.