Posted by Mary Caraccioli | Filed under Job search
The IRS has started a PR push touting the tax benefits bestowed to those looking for work. But a closer look at the rules reveals a lot of job seekers get no tax advantage at all. Those snubbed include folks whose industries have died (or so brutally downsized there is no hope of getting another job in that industry) and college grads who have not been able to find a job yet. There are plenty of 2009 grads who still haven’t found work yet. It is even harder for them now that 2010 grads have hit the pavement. Here is a closer look at the IRS rules:
1) To qualify for a deduction, the expenses must be spent on a job search in your current occupation. You may not deduct expenses incurred while looking for a job in a new occupation.
2) You can deduct employment and outplacement agency fees you pay while looking for a job in your present occupation. If your employer pays you back in a later year for employment agency fees, you must include the amount you receive in your gross income up to the amount of your tax benefit in the earlier year.
3) You can deduct amounts you spend for preparing and mailing copies of your résumé to prospective employers as long as you are looking for a new job in your present occupation.
4 ) If you travel to an area to look for a new job in your present occupation, you may be able to deduct travel expenses to and from the area. You can only deduct the travel expenses if the trip is primarily to look for a new job. The amount of time you spend on personal activity compared to the amount of time you spend looking for work is important in determining whether the trip is primarily personal or is primarily to look for a new job.
5) You cannot deduct job search expenses if there was a substantial break between the end of your last job and the time you begin looking for a new one. (Sorry Moms returning to the workforce- you are out of luck)
6) You cannot deduct job search expenses if you are looking for a job for the first time.