To figure your taxable income, you must subtract either your standard deduction or your itemized deductions from adjusted gross income. For information on the standard deduction, see Publication 501.
Itemized deductions are figured on Schedule A (Form 1040). This chapter discusses miscellaneous itemized deductions of particular interest to members of the Armed Forces. For information on other itemized deductions, see the publications listed below.
- Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.
- Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.
- Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts.
- Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses.
You must reduce the total of most miscellaneous itemized deductions by 2% of your adjusted gross income. For information on deductions that are not subject to the 2% limit, see Publication 529. taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176241
Deductible employee business expenses generally are miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% limit. Certain employee business expenses are deductible as adjustments to income. For information on many employee business expenses, see Publication 463.
Generally, you must file Form 2106, Employee Business Expenses, or Form 2106-EZ, Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses, to claim these expenses. You do not have to file Form 2106 or Form 2106-EZ if you are claiming only unreimbursed expenses for uniforms, professional society dues, and work-related educational expenses (all discussed later). You can deduct these expenses directly on Schedule A (Form 1040). taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176242
Generally, to receive advances, reimbursements, or other allowances from the government, you must adequately account for your expenses and return any excess reimbursement. Your reimbursed expenses are not deductible.
If your expenses are more than your reimbursement, the excess expenses are deductible (subject to the 2% limit) if you can prove them. You must file Form 2106 to report these expenses.
You can use the shorter Form 2106-EZ if you meet all three of the following conditions.
- You are an employee deducting expenses related to your job.
- You were not reimbursed by your employer for your expenses. (Amounts included in box 1 of Form W-2 are not considered reimbursements.)
- If you claim car expenses, you use the standard mileage rate.
For 2009, the standard mileage rate is 55 cents a mile for all business miles driven. This rate is adjusted periodically.
You can deduct unreimbursed travel expenses only if they are incurred while you are traveling away from home. If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces on a permanent duty assignment overseas, you are not traveling away from home. You cannot deduct your expenses for meals and lodging while at your permanent duty station. You cannot deduct these expenses even if you have to maintain a home in the United States for your family members who are not allowed to accompany you overseas.
A naval officer assigned to permanent duty aboard a ship that has regular eating and living facilities has a home aboard ship for travel expense purposes.
To be deductible, your travel expenses must be work related. You cannot deduct any expenses for personal travel, such as visits to family while on furlough, leave, or liberty. taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176245
Home is your permanent duty station (which can be a ship or base), regardless of where you or your family live. You are away from home if you are away from your permanent duty station substantially longer than an ordinary day's work and you need to get sleep or rest to meet the demands of your work while away from home.
Examples of deductible travel expenses include:
- Expenses for business-related meals (generally limited to 50% of your unreimbursed cost), lodging, taxicabs, business telephone calls, tips, laundry, and dry cleaning while you are away from home on temporary duty or temporary additional duty, and
- Expenses of carrying out official business while on "No Cost" orders.
You cannot deduct any expenses for travel away from home if the temporary assignment in a single location is realistically expected to last (and does in fact last) for more than 1 year. This rule may not apply if you are participating in a federal crime investigation or prosecution. For more information, see Publication 463 and the Form 2106 instructions.
These expenses include the ordinary and necessary costs of:
- Getting from one workplace to another when you are not away from home,
- Going to a business meeting away from your regular workplace, and
- Getting from your home to a temporary workplace when you have a regular place of work.
These expenses include the costs of transportation by air, bus, rail, taxi, and driving and maintaining your car. Transportation expenses incurred while traveling away from home are travel expenses. However, if you use your car while traveling away from home overnight, see the rules in chapter 4 of Publication 463 to figure your car expense deduction.
If you must go from one workplace to another while on duty (for example, as a courier or to attend meetings) without being away from home, your unreimbursed transportation expenses are deductible. However, the expenses of getting to and from your regular place of work (commuting) are not deductible. taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176248
If you have one or more regular places of business away from your home and you commute to a temporary work location in the same trade or business, you can deduct the expenses of the daily round-trip transportation between your home and the temporary location.
Generally, if your employment at a work location is realistically expected to last (and does in fact last) for 1 year or less, the employment is temporary.
If your employment at a work location is realistically expected to last for more than 1 year or if there is no realistic expectation that the employment will last for 1 year or less, the employment is not temporary, regardless of whether it actually lasts for more than 1 year. If employment at a work location initially is realistically expected to last for 1 year or less, but at some later date the employment is realistically expected to last more than 1 year, that employment will be treated as temporary (unless there are facts and circumstances that would indicate otherwise) until your expectation changes.
If you do not have a regular place of business, but you ordinarily work in the metropolitan area where you live, you can deduct daily transportation expenses between your home and a temporary work site outside your metropolitan area. However, you cannot deduct daily transportation costs between your home and temporary work sites within your metropolitan area. These are nondeductible commuting costs.
A meeting of an Armed Forces reserve unit is a second place of business if the meeting is held on a day on which you work at your regular job. You can deduct the expense of getting from one workplace to the other. You usually cannot deduct the expense if the reserve meeting is held on a day on which you do not work at your regular job. In this case, your transportation generally is a nondeductible commuting expense. However, you can deduct your transportation expenses if the location of the meeting is temporary and you have one or more regular places of work.
If you ordinarily work in a particular metropolitan area but not at any specific location and the reserve meeting is held at a temporary location outside that metropolitan area, you can deduct your transportation expenses. If you travel away from home overnight to attend a guard or reserve meeting, you can deduct your travel expenses. See Armed Forces Reservists
under Adjustments to Income
You usually cannot deduct the expenses for uniform cost and upkeep. Generally, you must wear uniforms when on duty and you are allowed to wear them when off duty.
If military regulations prohibit you from wearing certain uniforms when off duty, you can deduct the cost and upkeep of the uniforms, but you must reduce your expenses by any allowance or reimbursement you receive.
Expenses for the cost and upkeep of the following articles are deductible.
- Military battle dress uniforms and utility uniforms that you cannot wear when off duty.
- Articles not replacing regular clothing, including insignia of rank, corps devices, epaulets, aiguillettes, and swords.
- Reservists' uniforms if you can wear the uniform only while performing duties as a reservist.
You can deduct dues paid to professional societies directly related to your military position. However, you cannot deduct amounts paid to an officers' club or a noncommissioned officers' club. taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176255
Lieutenant Margaret Allen, an electrical engineer at Maxwell Air Force Base, can deduct professional dues paid to the American Society of Electrical Engineers.taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176256
You can deduct the costs of qualifying work-related education. This is education that meets at least one of the following two tests.
- The education is required by your employer or the law to keep your present salary, status, or job. The required education must serve a bona fide business purpose of your employer.
- The education maintains or improves skills needed in your present work.
However, even if the education meets one or both of the above tests, it is not qualifying education if it:
- Is needed to meet the minimum educational requirements of your present trade or business, or
- Is part of a program of study that will qualify you for a new trade or business.
You can deduct the expenses for qualifying work-related education even if the education could lead to a degree.taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176257
Lieutenant Colonel Mason has a degree in financial management and is in charge of base finances at her post of duty. She took an advanced finance course. She already meets the minimum qualifications for her job. By taking the course, she is improving skills in her current position. The course does not qualify her for a new trade or business. She can deduct educational expenses that are more than the educational allowance she received.taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176258
Major Williams worked in the military base legal office as a legal intern. He was placed in excess leave status by his employer to attend law school. He paid all his educational expenses and was not reimbursed. After obtaining his law degree, he passed the state bar exam and worked as a judge advocate. His educational expenses are not deductible because the law degree qualified him for a new trade or business, even though the education maintained and improved his skills in his work.taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176259
If your work-related education qualifies, you can deduct the costs of travel, including meals (subject to the 50% limit), and lodging, if the main purpose of the trip is to obtain the education.
You cannot deduct the cost of travel that is itself a form of education, even if it is directly related to your duties in your work or business. taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176260
If your work-related education qualifies for a deduction, you can deduct the costs of transportation to obtain that education. However, you cannot deduct the cost of services provided in kind, such as base-provided transportation to or from class. Transportation expenses include the actual costs of bus, subway, cab, or other fares, as well as the costs of using your car.
If you need more information on educational expenses, see Publication 970.taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176261
If you had to repay to your employer an amount that you included in your income in an earlier year, you may be able to deduct the repaid amount from your income for the year in which you repaid it. taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176262
If the amount you repaid was $3,000 or less, deduct it from your income in the year you repaid it. If you reported it as wages, deduct it as a miscellaneous itemized deduction on Schedule A (Form 1040), line 23.taxmap/pubs/p3-005.htm#en_us_publink1000176263
If the amount you repaid was more than $3,000, see Repayments in Publication 525.