Tax Write-Offs for Social Workers

Certain expenses that you incur working as a social worker can qualify as tax deductions. Employed social workers deduct these costs as unreimbursed employee expenses on Form 2106. Self-employed social workers deduct both business revenue and expenses on Schedule C of Form 1040.

Travel Expenses

Any unreimbursed transportation expenses you incur for work are tax deductible. The cost of your normal commute to and from your normal workplace can't be deducted. However, trips to visit your clients or trips for other business purposes can be written off. As of 2015, the IRS allows a standard mileage rate of 57.5 cents per mile to cover gas, maintenance, repairs, registration, licenses and vehicle depreciation. Other transportation expenses like bus fare, taxis, trains and parking fees, can also be written off.

Work Training and Education

If you need to fulfill continuing education requirements for your license or learn new material for your job, the costs you incur can usually be written off. As long as the training or education maintains or improves the skills you need for your job, it's a valid work education expense. Registration fees, tuition, books and materials are all deductible expenses. If you go out of town overnight, you also can write off the cost of travel and hotels. Half of the cost of meals and drinks you purchase are also deductible.

Volunteering

The National Association of Social Workers points out that anything that a social worker contributes on a volunteer basis is also deductible.

Tip

Rather than writing off volunteer-related costs as unreimbursed business expenses, deduct them as charitable contributions on Schedule A.

The fair market value of any goods, property or cash that you donate can be written off. Also, the general expenses that you incur to work at a volunteer event are deductible. For example, any supplies you bought for the event, parking fees or other costs you had are deductible. Mileage to and from the event can also be written off at the standard volunteer mileage reimbursement rate of 14 cents per mile.

Other Expenses

In addition to the expenses mentioned above, self-employed social workers can write off other costs they incur while working. Most expenses are deductible as long as they're ordinary and necessary to run the business. Potential write offs for self-employed social workers include:

  • Business licenses and local taxes paid
  • Professional dues, licenses, membership fees
  • Accounting, legal, marketing, IT and sales expenses
  • Office rent, utilities and insurance
  • A portion of your home's rent, utilities and insurance if you qualify for the home office deduction.
  • Depreciation expense on office computers and furniture
  • Books and reference material
  • Software and website expense