Whether you're a nurse, a bartender or an accountant, the deduction options for employees are limited. You have to itemize deductions, and even then, unreimbursed employee expenses are what's known as a "2 percent" write-off. You add all the items in this category together, subtract 2 percent of your adjusted gross income and deduct what's left. If you're self-employed, you write off all your expenses on Schedule C.
The IRS rule is that work clothes you could wear off the job -- suits for an attorney, say -- aren't deductible, even if the attorney never wears them away from work. However, protective clothing -- scrubs, latex gloves, face masks -- is a justifiable write-off. If you work for a hospital that requires a nursing uniform, uniforms are a valid deduction too. Buying supportive shoes because you're on your feet so much probably wouldn't qualify.
Training and Professionalism
If you're not a nurse yet, nursing school isn't deductible. Training for a new career never is. Once you're in the profession, mandatory continuing education or training to increase your skills is fully deductible. So are subscriptions to professional journals, license fees, dues to professional nursing groups and union fees. Deductible education doesn't have to relate purely to health care. In one tax court case, the court decided that a nurse's MBA was a deductible way to improve her business and management skills.
All sorts of transportation and travel costs are potentially deductible. Business driving is a write-off, as of 2013, at 56.5 cents a mile. You can't deduct the drive from home to the hospital, but going from one hospital to another, a doctor's office to a patient's house or driving from your house to a hospice patient's home would all be deductible. Driving to class from work is deductible, and so is driving from your home if your studies last less than a year.
If you're an employee and your boss reimburses you for your spending, you don't get the deduction. Refusing reimbursement if the tax cut's a better deal won't work: just qualifying for a reimbursement disqualifies the write-off. If you're self-employed and a client reimburses you, the same principle applies. If your employer only reimburses you for part of the expense, you can still write off the part you didn't get paid for.
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.