Tax Deductions for High School Coaches

A high school football coach watching his team play.
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With the changes created by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2018, many, if not most, write-offs for high school coaches have been eliminated. Depending on your employment status, you might be able to claim some business deductions. Even if you can claim certain coaching-related expenses, these technically aren't deductions, they are expenses you can write off.

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Reviewing the TCJA changes and how they affect your ability to write off coaching expenses will help you qualify for all of the deductions to which you might be entitled.

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Consider Also:Self-Employed Tax Deductions, Benefits & More

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Are You An Employee?

The main change brought about by the TCJA regarding tax deductions relates to employment status. Beginning ​January 1, 2018​, employees may no longer deduct business-related expenses that aren't reimbursed by your employer. This means that if you buy a whistle, coaching notebooks or take a trip to a conference related to your school coaching, if your school doesn't reimburse you for these expenses, you can't claim them as expenses when you file your taxes.

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If you work for the school as a non-employee consultant, contractor, freelancer or other self-employed worker, you can claim your business-related costs as expense reductions. This can include expenses such as certification, continuing education and sports equipment.

Consider Also:Non-Employee Compensation: Definition & Compensation Reporting

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What About Outside Work?

If you run a summer sports camp as a private business person, you should be able to deduct those expenses on your taxes. For example, even if your school lets you use your school or mascot name for your camp, if you are not working for the school and you're running the camp on your own, you can claim your expenses as write-offs.

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If you run the camp on school property and call it the Spartan football camp, you are still a private entity if the school does not pay you to run the camp or include it as part of your job duties. If you rent school facilities or pay the school for the use of the school or mascot name, that still doesn't make you an employee.

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If you run a side business providing coaching services, you might be able to claim any expenses that are necessary for running that business, even if the expense also relates to your school coaching. For example, if you go to a strength and conditioning workshop, you can probably write that off because you will use that knowledge for your summer sports camp.

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Let's say you are an employee high school tennis coach, but as a contractor teach private tennis lessons during the summer. If you attend a high school tennis coaching workshop that includes information on making team lineups, fundraising and group drills, that information isn't necessary for your summer private lesson business, and you might not be able to write off all of that workshop. Talk to your tax advisor about these types of scenarios.

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Consider Also:Form 1040: What You Need to Know

Use Schedule C

When you claim business expenses as part of your tax filing, you will enter them on Schedule C of your 1040 form, unless you have set up a corporation for your side-coaching business activities and file a separate, business tax return.

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Look at Depreciation

If you purchase assets that more than erase your income tax liability for a particular year, you might want to consider depreciating those assets over a number of years so that you get the maximum benefit. For example, if you are a tennis coach who purchases a ​$4,000​ ball machine and you use it to run a tennis camp each summer, you can spread the expense over several years to reduce your tax liability each year.

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Instead of claiming the entire expense for one year, you can depreciate the asset by ​$1,000​ over the next four years. Work with a tax professional to make sure you get the timing of your depreciation correct.

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