Thanks to changes in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act that went into effect in 2018, some people who could previously write off cellphone expenses no longer can. Many still can, however, under certain circumstances. If you're self-employed, you can write off business expenses if they are necessary for your work. Reviewing how to claim your mobile phone on tax filings will help you recover some of your expenses for this part of doing business.
Consider Also: Self-Employed Tax Deductions, Benefits & More
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Deductions vs. Expenses
People often use "deduction," "expenses" and "write-offs" interchangeably. Technically, a deduction is something for which you qualify, such as a child care or education credit. You can take the standard deduction each year, or you itemize deductions.
If you have qualifying business expenses, you can claim them on your tax filing, "writing them off" to reduce your taxable income. Make sure to work with a tax professional so you don't make the mistakes many people make when trying to write off a home office, mobile phone, internet, meals and travel.
Consider Also: Form 1040: What You Need to Know
Employees vs. Self-Employed Workers
Prior to the passage of the TCJA, employees who had to spend money for their work but weren't reimbursed by their employers could claim these expenses on their tax returns. That ended with the TCJA. Now, only contractors, freelancers, gig workers, sole proprietors, small-business owners and other self-employed people can claim this expense.
It Must Be Necessary
Any expense you claim must be necessary to do your job. If you're audited and you tell the IRS that you "needed to keep up to date" by checking the internet on your phone, you'll probably lose that argument. If you use your phone to make business calls, check messages left by clients, pay bills, log in to your website, bank account or other tools, post on social media and send business-related texts, your expense will qualify.
Consider Also: What Is a Schedule C Form: Who Needs to File & How to File
Claiming Your Mobile Phone
When you claim business expenses, you'll enter them on Schedule C of your 1040. Enter the expenses under the "Other Expenses" area of the form, in section V. You can only claim the portion of your phone bill that was generated for your work.
For example, if you have a very part-time job (such as working for a food delivery service), you probably use your phone mostly for personal calls and texts. If you use your phone 50/50 for business and work, you can write off 50 percent of the expense of the phone.