For those of you who are not self-employed but instead work for a company, are you able to write off purchases such as programming books, hosting services, etc? For example, I work as a front-end developer. I'm now fortunate enough that Uncle Sam wants me to pay more taxes. I spend a certain amount periodically on programming books in order to keep myself sharp. I also spend money on some hosting to maintain my portfolio and generally keep a sandbox for testing and experimenting. None of this is directly related to any of my work projects but rather its related to my profession as a whole. It's all for the sake of keeping myself on top of my game.
Any opinions on whether I can write off these sorts of purchases?
I noticed that you have not put your geographical location in your profile. That's fine, but keep in mind that tax laws vary considerably from one country to another. Unless you tell us which country you are in, it's going to be difficult to give a firm answer. (You did mention "Uncle Sam", which might suggest you are in the US. But I'm not sure if everybody here will realise that.)
Havng said that, I suspect your issue is not whether programming books, hosting services, etc. are themselves deductible. But, rather, whether an employed person can make such deductions. But, again, the answer will depend on your location.
Yes, I am in the U.S. Sorry for not clarifying that. Do you know if an employed person can make those deductions?
No, sorry, I don't know the situation in the US. But I'm sure it's a common question. Have you tried searching the IRS site? Or can you check with your company's HR or payroll department?
I just did a quick search myself, and I found this article, which suggests that you can deduct expenses for work-related education under some circumstances. But the article is not from an official source, so don't take it as the last word on the subject.
I hadn't seen that site (although I found others). Thanks for pointing that out. If any one in the U.S. has deducted purchases like books and hosting, let me know. I just want to avoid any hassles with the IRS.
Qualifying Work-Related Education
You can deduct the costs of qualifying work-related education as business expenses. 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 work-related 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 costs of qualifying work-related education as a business expense even if the education could lead to a degree.
Education Required by Employer or by Law
Education you need to meet the minimum educational requirements for your present trade or business is not qualifying work-related education. Once you have met the minimum educational requirements for your job, your employer or the law may require you to get more education. This additional education is qualifying work-related education if all three of the following requirements are met.
It is required for you to keep your present salary, status or job.
The requirement serves a business purpose of your employer.
The education is not part of a program that will qualify you for a new trade or business.
When you get more education than your employer or the law requires, the additional education can be qualifying work-related education only if it maintains or improves skills required in your present work.
Education to Maintain or Improve Skills
If your education is not required by your employer or the law, it can be qualifying work-related education only if it maintains or improves skills needed in your present work. This could include refresher courses, courses on current developments and academic or vocational courses.
Look at that twisted idiocy. :sick: So, what's the answer? Maybe, maybe not. If you need the skills to meet the minimum job requirements, it is not a business expense. Why not? If you want to improve yourself to increase your income, it is not deductible. The tax code is encouraging people to stay right where they are and go no further. This is absurd.
Well, I'm in no way an expert in US tax law (or any other tax law). But the requirement you quote seems reasonable to me. It's saying that if you study for a qualification to get a job, or to qualify in a certain profession, that's considered part of your education, so it's not deductible. But if the study is to improve your standing in your existing job or profession, then it's presumably something the government want to encourage, so they give you a tax break.
I make no comment on whether that's a good or bad policy. But the statement you quoted is perfectly clear as to its intents. I don't see how it can be described as "twisted idiocy".
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