Tax Time: How To Write Off Your Job Hunt

Dreaded tax time is here once again. If you’re like most, you are trying to find receipts for everything and anything you can use for a tax deduction.

If you happened to look for a job last year, I'm happy to report you can write off your job hunt! While I'm certainly not a CPA and encourage you to double check whether or not the specifics of what you want to write off are allowed, I’ll cover the basics of what is an isn’t allowed as a write off to get you started!

Outplacement, Career Coaching And Skill Building

If you hired an outplacement firm, sought training or career coaching to improve interview skills, networking skills or job hunt coaching, you'll likely be able to write off these expenses. The primary catch is you have to be able to prove the activities were related to a job search. For most people this is pretty straightforward and easy to detail.

Resume Preparation

Let’s face it, most people don't know how to write a compelling resume. The time it takes to write a resume, rewrite it, and write it again,  is frustrating and disappointing for most. A professionally written resume allows you to relax, stop stressing and feel confident when you submit your resume for consideration.

Understanding you'll most likely need help writing a great resume, Uncle Sam gives you the thumbs up to deduct this expense as well! From paying a Certified Resume Writer to create your resume to the ink, paper and other marketing expenses related to submitting your resume, you can breathe easy knowing this is an expense that not only makes professional sense but also gives back at tax time!

Travel And Meals

You can deduct any travel related expense connected to your job search. Yippee!

This includes airline tickets, mileage, car rentals, taxi rides, parking expenses, hotels, and food. Taking someone out for lunch to network? Keep the receipt. Headed to a local chamber meeting to share your resume and network? Swing through Starbucks on the way and write it off!

Keep in mind, much like writing off the fees associated with networking events, club memberships or career coaching, you have to be able to show how your travel and dining expenses related to your job search.

Internet Fees

Because using snail mail is no longer an effective way to job search, Uncle Sam says you can deduct internet related fees. Wi-Fi costs, memberships to job boards, online training and services like LinkedIn’s premium membership can all be deducted! Sweet!


Taking care of the kiddos while you’re out interviewing can get pricey. Because you can’t take a child to an interview, costs associated with babysitting while you are job hunting are also deductible!


If your dream job lands you in a new city, the costs associated with moving can be deducted! Whether you pay a moving company or rent a U-Haul for a little DIY nightmare, make sure to save your receipts associated with relocation.

The rules surrounding relocation expenses can be a little wacky with things like meeting a specific job time requirement and moving at least 50 miles from your current home. Just double check the guidelines to determine what is and isn’t allowed. You can check out the IRS 521 for details on moving-related expenses.

What Is Taxed

Severance pay, unemployment pay and any payments you received from benefits, unused vacation time and unused sick time are all taxable. If any of the above expenses, such as relocation and outplacement services,  are paid by your employer or someone else, you cannot deduct the expenses. Personal items like a new suit, briefcase, dress shoes or a haircut are typically are not allowed as deductions either.

Also, all job hunt expenses must be relevant to your current line of work and relevant in timing. For example, let’s say you’re a VP of Sales but you decided you want to work as an astronaut, that doesn't count. All expenses to look for a job in a new industry or field are not covered. If you’ve been a stay at home Dad for two years and are ready to get back into the rat race, your timing won’t be considered relevant and therefore the expenses are not deductible in most cases.

The government wants to encourage you to find employment quickly, so if you’ve been out of the market or a chasing a career move that will be hard to navigate, you may not be able to write off all the expenses. Keep your receipts anyway, because you may still have a few items you can toss in as a write off.

At the end of the day, take all the deductions you're legally allowed. If you’re currently looking for a job or plan to do so this year, be rigid about saving all of your receipts. If the IRS says you can write it off, do it! If there is any confusion about what you can and can’t include, seek out professional tax help. Happy taxes! - Jeanna

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About The Author

Recognized nationally as an industry leader in resume writing and career coaching, Jeanna McGinnis, CPRW is the Director of Client Triumph at Mentor Happy and a recognized Career Coach for Forbes Coaches Council. Jeanna previously held the position of AVP, Career Strategy with our parent company, A Players Executive Search Group Inc. where she remains a board member and active leader. Leveraging more than 16 years of experience directing hiring practices, career development and outplacement programs for multiple Fortune 100 companies, Jeanna and the Mentor Happy team are refreshing how busy professionals brand, market and drive their careers. Please connect with Jeanna on LinkedIn or the Mentor Happy team on Twitter to manage your career on your terms!