Monday, August 31, 2009

Tax Deductions Incurred As A Result of Job Loss

As the jobless rate is expected to reach 9.5 for August and 10 percent by 2010 and you unfortunately find yourself among the 6.7 million individuals who have lost their jobs since the recession officially began in 2007, here is some information you should know about the tax effects of your job loss.

Severance pay and unemployment compensation are taxable. Payments for any accumulated vacation or sick time are also taxable. You should ensure that enough taxes are withheld from these payments or make estimated payments. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits an individual receives in 2009 are tax free. This provision applies only to benefits received in 2009: Normally, unemployment benefits are taxable. Also, you may request that taxes be deducted from your unemployment benefits so that you do not wind up with an unexpected tax bill during tax time.

You can deduct certain expenses you have in looking for a new job in your present occupation, even if you do not get a new job. You cannot deduct these expenses if:

  • You are looking for a job in a new occupation,
  • There was a substantial break between the ending of your last job and your looking for a new one, or
  • You are looking for a job for the first time.
Employment and outplacement agency fees. You can deduct employment and outplacement agency fees you pay in looking for a new job in your present occupation.

Employer pays you back. If, in a later year, your employer pays you back 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.

Employer pays the employment agency. If your employer pays the fees directly to the employment agency and you are not responsible for them, you do not include them in your gross income. This one you do not have to worry about since fees paid to the employment agency are not disclosed.

Resume. You can deduct amounts you spend for preparing and mailing copies of a resume to prospective employers if you are looking for a new job in your present occupation. This includes the cost of typing, printing and mailing your resume.

Travel and transportation expenses. If you travel to an area and, while there, you look for a new job in your present occupation, you may be able to deduct travel expenses to and from the area. You can 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 in looking for work is important in determining whether the trip is primarily personal or is primarily to look for a new job.
Even if you cannot deduct the travel expenses to and from an area, you can deduct the expenses of looking for a new job in your present occupation while in the area.
You can choose to use the standard mileage rate to figure your car expenses. The 2008 rate for business use of a vehicle is 50½ cents per mile (58 ½ cents per mile after June 30, 2008).

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