TurboTax / Tax Calculators & Tips / All Tax Guides / Jobs and Career / Common Tax Deductions for Coaches

Common Tax Deductions for Coaches


Most youth coaches will say that it’s not something they do for the money—they simply love kids and love teaching them the game. The good news for coaches is, there are a few tax deductions you can take to get more money back at tax time.

Itemize to Claim Work-Related Tax Deductions

Gym instructor where "I'm the coach" t-shirt

You must itemize to claim a deduction for employee work-related expenses. This means completing Schedule A with your tax return and taking a total deduction for all your itemized deductible expenses—not just what you spent on coaching—in lieu of the standard deduction for your filing status.

The standard deduction works out to be more than itemized deductions for many taxpayers, so itemizing isn’t always a good deal. TurboTax can help you decide which deduction is best for you by asking you simple questions.

The Educator Expense Deduction

A major distinction exists between coaching a school team as an employee and coaching your neighborhood’s Little League. If you’re a school coach and you also teach, you might be eligible for the educator expense deduction if you worked for the school at least 900 hours during the academic year.

You don’t have to itemize your deductions in order to claim the educator expense deduction. It goes on the first page of your tax return before you get around to deciding if you want to itemize or claim the standard deduction.

  • You can claim up to $250 for expenses that you personally purchase for the team as an educator expense deduction, as long as the school does not reimburse you for the expenses.
  • You must also be an educator to qualify for this deduction—i.e. you are employed by the school to teach or instruct in some manner

What Else Can Coaches Deduct?

You can also claim work-related expenses for items you spent money on in excess of $250, as long as you're an employee that does not get reimbursed for the expense. For example, if you spent $1,000 and the school paid you back only $400, you can still claim a deduction for $600, subject to some other rules.

This work-related expense deduction covers a lot more ground than just supplies and equipment you purchase. It includes:

  • costs of medical examinations the school requires you to undergo to determine fitness
  • subscriptions related to work
  • travel and transportation expenses for work
  • one-half of meals when away from home overnight on work-related business
  • union dues
  • work uniforms
  • continuing education that keeps you current with your job’s requirements

You can deduct many expenses that are both “ordinary and necessary” to your coaching duties as an employee. You don’t necessarily have to be an educator to claim this deduction, but you need to be an employee. It must qualify as work. Otherwise, it’s a hobby.

The Two-Percent Threshold

Itemized deductions include many categories, one of them being “miscellaneous deductions.” Your work-related expense deductions fall under this umbrella. This category is subject to a 2% threshold—you can deduct only the portion of your expenses that exceeds 2% of your adjusted gross income, or AGI.

For example:

  • If you spent $1,000 on coaching expenses and the school repaid you $400 of that, you might not be able to deduct the $600 balance, due to the 2% rule.
  • If your AGI is $55,000, 2% of that is $1,100, so you could only deduct work-related coaching expenses that exceed $1,100.
  • In this example, you can’t deduct the $600 as that is under $1,100.
  • However, there are other miscellaneous itemized deductions that can be used to get over the 2% threshold. Investment expenses, tax preparation fees, legal expenses for generating income are some examples.

When Your Coaching is a Hobby

What if you coach your town’s Little League team as a volunteer? You’re probably not paid for this work, so the work-related deduction and the educator expense deduction are not available to you. But you might still be able to deduct some of your costs.

In this case, you’re spending money voluntarily on a hobby, not a job, and the IRS allows you to deduct some hobby expenses if you itemize. Hobby expenses are also a miscellaneous deduction, so they must exceed 2% of your AGI. But you’ll need at least some income from coaching because the amount you spend over 2% of your adjusted gross income can’t exceed the income earned from your hobby. For example:

  • If your AGI is $50,000, you could only deduct hobby expenses in excess of $1,000, or 2% of that ($50,000 x 0.02 = $1,000 threshold).
  • If you had $1,100 in expenses, you could deduct $100($1,100 - $1,000 = $100 you can deduct).
  • However, you also must earn at least $100 from your coaching hobby to take the deduction.

Remember, with TurboTax, we’ll ask you simple questions and fill out the right tax forms for you to maximize your tax deductions.

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $54.99*
Start for Free

Looking for more information?

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.

Security is built into everything we do
Here's how
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures

  • 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 (1040EZ/1040A) + $0 state offer only available with TurboTax Federal 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 expected in March. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • TurboTax Self-Employed ExpenseFinder: ExpenseFinder™ is available year round as a feature of QuickBooks Self-Employed (available with TurboTax Self-Employed, see the “QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer with TurboTax Self-Employed” details below.) ExpenseFinder™ expected late January (late February for mobile app). ExpenseFinder™ not available from within TurboTax Self-Employed for people with certain types of expenses and tax situations including paying contractors or employees, home office or vehicle actuals, inventory, self employed health insurance or retirement, asset depreciation, sale of property or vehicles, and farm income. Availability of historical transactions for import may vary by financial institution. Not available for all financial institutions or all credit cards.
  • QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer with TurboTax Self-Employed: File your 2016 TurboTax Self-Employed return by 4/18/17 and receive your complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed until 4/30/18. Activation required. Sign in to QuickBooks Self-Employed by 7/15/17 via mobile app or at https://selfemployed.intuit.com/turbotax; e-mail address used for activation and sign-in. Offer valid only for new QuickBooks Self-Employed customers. See QuickBooks.com for price comparison.
    • When you use TurboTax Self-Employed to file your 2017 taxes, you will have the option to renew your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription. If you do not purchase TurboTax Self-Employed by 4/18/18, you will have the option of renewing your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription by 4/30/18 for another year at the then-current annual subscription rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time from within the QuickBooks Self-Employed billing section.
  • Pays for itself (TurboTax Self-Employed): Estimates based on deductible business expenses calculated at the self-employment tax income rate (15%) for tax year 2016. Actual results will vary based on your tax situation.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and 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.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax Expert Help, Tax Advice and SmartLook: Included with Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed (via phone or on-screen); not included with Federal Free Edition (but available for purchase with the Plus bundle). SmartLook on-screen help is available on a PC, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. TurboTax experts provide general advice, customer service and product help; tax advice provided only by credentialed CPAs, enrolled agents and tax attorneys. Feature availability varies by device. State tax advice is free. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • Tax Return Access, My Docs and My Analysis & Advice features: Access to all tax-related documents we have on file for you is available until you file your 2017 tax return or through 10/31/2018, whichever comes first. 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 2015 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.

  • 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 expected in March. 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: $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.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice via phone is included with Premier and Home & Business; fees apply for Basic and Deluxe customers. State tax advice is free. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2015 TurboTax products.
  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2015 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2011 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.