April 15 is closer than you think. Do you know all the deductions you can claim as a job seeker? This handy list can help make tax season a little easier to handle while you're looking for work.
February always seems to me like it’s too early to think about taxes. That April 15 deadline seems so remote and spring-like from this distance, it feels silly to worry about it when you’re just cleaning up after your Super Bowl party (not as big a deal this year, without the Seahawks, wasn’t it?). But believe me, those eight weeks can fly by — especially if you’re currently out of work and most of your time is spent looking for a new job.
It’s a daunting feeling knowing you have to pay taxes when you no longer have a steady income. But fortunately, you have a few options to deduct the expenses you’ve incurred during your job search. Here are some deductions to remember for tax year 2015 if you’re looking for work.
Did you pay outplacement agency fees? If so, you can deduct these fees, as long as you’ve been looking for a new job in your present occupation. If a former employer has paid you back in 2015 for employment agency fees incurred earlier, be sure to add the amount you received in your gross income, up to the amount of your tax benefit in the earlier year. See the “Recoveries” section in Publication 525 for more details.
Did you pay for someone to help with your résumé and/or cover letter? You can deduct these expenses, too. This includes fees that were charged to help update a résumé, as well as any charges for printing and mailing copies of résumés to prospective employers. These days, far fewer of these documents are actually printed, but every little bit helps.
Did you travel to a different city to look for work? Again, this only applies to potential jobs already in your chosen field, but if you’ve traveled to an area outside of your city specifically to look for work there, you may be able to deduct travel expenses such as meals, lodging and transportation. Depending on your circumstances, you can use the standard mileage rate for a vehicle — currently 57.5 cents per mile for travel in 2015 (a penny and a half more per mile than 2014). See Publication 463 for more information on travel and car expenses.
Did you take any classes that specifically apply to your work? Whether it’s a refresher computer course, a professional certification or a master’s degree, as long as it’s in your profession and makes you more attractive to hiring managers, you may be eligible for several different tax benefits that can partially deduct some tuition costs. See Publication 970 for more details on the many options available to you.
Were you paid unemployment benefits in 2015? It never seems fair, but it’s true that any unemployment benefit you receive from the Washington state Employment Security Department (ESD) is fully taxable and must be reported on your return. You’ll probably get a Form 1099-G from ESD that lists all the information you’ll need to report.