Professional Fees and Dues:
Dues paid to professional societies related to your occupation are deductible. However, the costs of initial admission fees paid for membership in certain organizations or social clubs are considered capital expenses.
Deductions are allowed for payments made to a union as a condition of initial or continued membership. Such payments include regular dues, but not those that go toward defraying expenses of a personal nature. However, the portion of union dues that goes into a strike fund is deductible.
Uniforms and Upkeep Expenses:
Generally, the costs of your uniforms are fully deductible. IRS rules specify that work clothing costs and the cost of its maintenance are deductible if: (1) the uniforms are required by your employer (if you’re an employee); and (2) the clothes are not adaptable to ordinary street wear. Normally, the employer’s emblem attached to the clothing indicates it is not for street wear. The cost of protective clothing (e.g., safety shoes or goggles) is also deductible.
Your auto expense is based on the number of qualified business miles you drive. Expenses for travel between business locations or daily transportation expenses between your residence and temporary work locations are deductible; include them as business miles. Expenses for your trips between home and work each day, or between home and one or more regular places of work, are COMMUTING expenses and are NOT deductible.
Document business miles in a record book as follows: (1) give the date and business purpose of each trip; (2) note the place to which you traveled; (3) record the number of business miles; and (4) record your car’s odometer reading at both the beginning and end of the tax year. Keep receipts for all car operating expenses – gas, oil, repairs, insurance, etc. – and of any reimbursement you received for your expenses.
Expenses accrued when traveling away from “home” overnight on job related and continuing-education trips are deductible. Your “home” is generally considered to be the entire city or general area where your principal place of employment is located. Out-of-town expenses include transportation, meals, lodging, tips and miscellaneous items like laundry, valet, etc.
Document away-from-home expenses by noting the date, destination and business purpose of your trip. Record business miles if you drove to the out-of-town location. In addition, keep a detailed record of your expenses – lodging, public transportation, meals, etc. Always list meals and lodging separately in your records. Receipts must be retained for each lodging expense. However, if any other business expense is less than $75, a receipt is not necessary if you record all of the information in a timely diary. You must keep track of the full amount of meal and entertainment expenses even though only a portion of the amount may be deductible.
Equipment & Repairs:
Generally, to be deductible, items must be ordinary and necessary to your job as a peace officer and not reimbursable by your employer. Record separately from other supplies the cost of business assets that are expected to last longer than one year and cost more than $100. Normally, the cost of such assets are recovered differently on your tax return than are other recurring, everyday business expenses such as flashlights, batteries and other supplies.
The basic local telephone service costs of the first telephone line provided in your residence are not deductible. However, toll calls from that line are deductible if the calls are business-related. The costs (basic fee and toll calls) of a second line in your home are also deductible if the line is used exclusively for business.
Educational expenses are deductible under either of two conditions: (1) your employer requires the education in order for you to keep your job or rate of pay; or (2) the education maintains or improves your skills as a peace officer. Costs of courses that are taken to meet the minimum requirements of a job, or that qualify you for a new trade or business, are NOT deductible.
Generally, meals consumed during hours of duty by peace officers are nondeductible.
Expenses of looking for new employment in your present line of work are deductible – you do not have to actually obtain a new job in order to deduct the expenses. Out-of-town, job-seeking expenses are deductible only if the primary purpose of the trip is job seeking, not pursuing personal activities.