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6 Common Miscellaneous Expenses Examples | Tax Deduction Tips for Small Businesses

Miscellaneous expense examples include clothes, a computer, equipment, a work uniform and work boots, with some exceptions. Miscellaneous expenses are defined by the IRS as any write off that doesn’t fit into one of their tax categories. Small business owners can claim these expenses to reduce their taxable income.

Miscellaneous expenses must be itemized in your taxes; you can’t take the standard deduction for them. Use Schedule A to claim them. Below are six common examples of miscellaneous expenses, how they can be written off and what exceptions apply. The IRS has a complete miscellaneous expense list.

In this article, we’ll cover:

Can You Write off Clothes for Work?

Yes, you can write off clothes for work as long as they’re necessary for your job and you can’t wear them in your everyday life, according to the IRS.

  • For example, a musician or entertainer can write off the cost of theatrical clothing they can’t wear in their day-to-day life.

Any clothes your employer requires can be written off, as well, as long as your regular clothing isn’t a suitable replacement.

Any safety items can definitely be written off. This includes safety boots or shoes, work gloves, hard hats and safety glasses. Here are some professions that should be able to write off safety clothing:

  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Cement workers
  • Machinists
  • Chemical workers

Can You Write off a Computer for Work?

No, you can’t write off the cost of a new computer for work. However, you can claim a depreciation deduction for any computer that is needed for you to carry out your work, according to the IRS.

Depreciation is the decrease in value of an item due to regular wear and use.

Many small businesses will absolutely need a computer for work. But, if you have a computer at your office and you use your home computer for work less than 50 percent of the time, then you won’t be able to claim the depreciation deduction for your home computer, only your office computer.

If you use your business computer more than 50 percent of the time in your work, you can claim accelerated depreciation. If you use your computer less than 50 percent of the time in your work, you need to claim the straight line method of depreciation.

  • Important Exception: if you use a computer in what qualifies as a home office, you can claim accelerated depreciation even if you use your computer less than 50 percent of the time in your work. You may also be able to claim a service 179 deduction for the year you started using the computer for work (usually the year you bought it). A home office is a part of your home you use often and exclusively for business, according to the IRS.

Use Form 4562 to claim the depreciation deduction for a computer you began to use for business in 2017 and after, as well as the service 179 deduction mentioned above (if applicable). The instructions for Form 4562 will help you figure out how to calculate depreciation.

If you began to use your computer before 2017, you can report depreciation in Schedule C, the usual form small businesses use to claim deductions.

Can You Write off Equipment for Business?

Yes, you can write off equipment for business. The equipment must be used in your home for business purposes, says the IRS.

Equipment includes computers and any related computer equipment as well as photographic, phonographic and video recording equipment. The rules for writing off computers and other equipment are above.

In a nutshell, computers and equipment used in your home office have different rules for deductions. Other situations, like a home camera you use occasionally for business, can be deducted based on whether you use it more than 50 percent of the time for your small business or less.

  • For example, a graphic designer with an out-of-home office uses her personal computer at home 25 percent of the time for work. She can’t claim depreciation of this computer on her taxes. If she uses it 60 percent of the time for work, she can. Form 4562 and/or Schedule C will help her claim this deduction.

You must keep a record of how much you use personal equipment for business use. It is best to keep a log or other such diary. The IRS requires such back-up evidence in order for you to claim depreciation or a section 179 deduction.

People also ask:

Can You Write off Suits for Work?

No, you can’t write off suits for work. You can only write off clothes for work as long as they’re not usable for everyday wear, according to the IRS. Suits are appropriate clothes off the job, unlike safety boots or a fireman’s gear.

  • For example, a musician needs to buy a suit for his performances. Still, he would be able to wear this suit at weddings and other formal occasions not related to his work. So, he can’t write off his suit on his taxes.

Even if your employer requires you to wear a suit, it can’t be written off. This is because the IRS only lets you deduct required clothing as long as your regular clothing isn’t a suitable replacement. A suit is regular clothing, something you might already have hanging in your closet for your non-work life, unlike items like safety goggles or a hard hat.

Can You Write off Uniforms on Taxes?

Yes, sometimes you can write off uniforms on taxes. The same rules governing clothes (see section above) applies to uniforms too, with some exceptions.

Uniforms are only deductible if they’re required by your employer (such as a franchise) and they aren’t suitable for everyday wear.

  • For example, a painter might be required by his union to wear a white shirt and overalls, standard work shoes and a white cap. But there items could easily be worn in day-to-day life. An employee like a welder might be requested to wear blue clothes, but blue clothes could also be worn day-to-day. These clothes can’t be written off on their taxes.

Uniforms for the following profession could be written off, according to the IRS:

  • Delivery workers
  • Fire fighters
  • Health care workers
  • Law enforcement
  • Letter carriers
  • Professional athletes
  • Transportation workers (like a bus driver)

Military uniforms can’t be written off if you’re on full-time duty or you’re a student at a military academy. Civilian teachers or staff can deduct the cost of their uniforms.

Can You Write off Work Boots on Taxes?

Yes, you may be able to write off work boots on your taxes. Safety boots can be deducted if they are necessary to your work and required by your employer (if applicable).

Boots that can be work in your everyday life can’t be deducted. Even if you wear your boots exclusively for your job, if they could be worn off the job, they can’t be written off.


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