Tax Deductions for Impairment-Related Work Expenses

by Fraser Sherman Google

    If your disability makes working for a living tougher, the IRS may cut you some slack. The write-off for impairment-related work expenses lets you deduct some of the extra money you have to spend to hold down a job. The impairment deduction gives you a better deal than if you claimed the costs as a medical expense.

    Qualifying

    The IRS has more than one definition of disability. For impairment-related work expenses, the agency defines you as disabled if you have a physical or mental problem such as blindness or deafness that limits your job options. You also qualify if you're not disabled but you're impaired to the point you can't perform one of the "major life activities." Those include walking, speaking, learning, breathing, working and performing manual tasks.

    Expenses

    If your disability forces you to spend money to keep or get a job, that expense is deductible. For example, if you're blind and you pay someone to read you information at work, that can qualify. So might costs for transportation to work, or the use of a service dog. The work expense has to be necessary for you to do a good job. It also has to be spent on something you don't use away from work.

    Claiming

    With the regular medical-expense deduction, your medical bills have to be more than 10 percent of your adjusted gross income before you can take a write-off. With the impairment credit, there's no such restriction. You can claim all of your expenses that qualify as a deduction. If you pay for services for your disabled spouse or dependents, that counts too. Keep records of costs and service providers and details of why you needed to spend the money, in case the IRS asks.

    Deducting

    If you're self-employed, you report the write-off as a business expense on Schedule C. If you're an employee, you have to itemize to take the deduction. First, calculate your unreimbursed employee expenses on Form 2106. Then you report your figures on Schedule A, separating impairment expenses from the rest. Most employee expenses are only deductible when they exceed 2 percent of your AGI, but you can take 100 percent of impairment costs. If you choose to take the standard deduction, you lose the impairment write-off.

    About the Author

    A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.

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