Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tax Benefits For Job Seekers

Job search expenses can be deducted as miscellaneous itemized tax deductions if you look for a job in the same field at the same level as the one you left. The job search expenses are deductible even if you don't get the job.

You can deduct job-seeking expenses as long as the amount of all miscellaneous itemized tax deductions is more than 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). To figure your tax deduction, subtract 2% of your AGI from the total amount of these expenses. Job search expense deductions are also subject to the overall limitation on itemized deductions based on income threshold amounts.

To qualify, your job search must be for a job in your current, or most recent, trade or business and should be at a similar level of responsibility with duties similar to those of your most recent job.
  • If you haven't held a job in that trade or business for an extended length of time, your job search will be considered for a new trade or business, and your deductions may not be allowed.
  • If you held a college internship or valid job while in college and your search is for a job in the same trade or business, you will be able to deduct job search expenses.
  • If you're just out of school and had no paying jobs while in school that were related to your trade or business, your deductions won't be allowed.

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. Also, 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.

You can deduct amounts you spend for preparing and mailing copies of a resume to prospective employers as long as you are looking for a new job in your present occupation. Cost for preparing resumes includes typing, printing, postage, long-distance charges, advertising, and photographs required for your resume.

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.

If you are receiving unemployment compensation, these amounts are considered taxable income. You will receive Form 1099-G showing the amount you were paid and any federal income tax you elected to have withheld. If you did not elect to have any taxes withheld from your unemployment compensation you may be faced with an unexpected tax burden.

To minimize the pain felt by taxpayers who lost their jobs, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act temporarily changed the taxation of unemployment benefits in 2009. The first $2,400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009 is tax free. Any amount over $2,400 will be subject to federal income tax. Individuals who receive unemployment benefits this year should check their withholding to ensure they are not having unnecessary tax withheld.

If you were employer either filed bankruptcy or went out of business here is some information you should know. Your employer must provide you with a Form W-2 showing your wages and withholdings by January 31 of the following year. You should keep up-to-date records or pay stubs until you receive your Form W-2. If your employer or its representatives fails to provide you with a Form W-2 by February 15, contact the IRS in order to obtain a substitute Form W-2. If your employer is liquidating your 401(k) plan, you have 60 days to roll it over to another qualified retirement plan or IRA.

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