Are Cable and Phone Services Considered Utilities for the IRS?

Depreciation on a cell phone used for work can be a deductible expense.

Itemizing deductions can be one of the trickier aspects of filling out your taxes, as the tax booklets do not always spell out what can and cannot be deducted. One common question is whether cable TV and telephone expenses can be considered deductible utilities.


Home Business

IRS regulations state that taxpayers who use a portion of their home as a work area or home business can deduct certain expenses related to their home, utilities included, provided those expenses are exclusively related to that business use. However, you cannot deduct expenses that pertain to personal use as well as business purposes.


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Home Telephone

Applying these home business regulations to telephone service, the IRS deems that the basic service charge for the main telephone line and related taxes are considered a nondeductible expense. However, the taxpayer can deduct the cost of business-related long distance calls from that line, as well as the cost of a second, business-only telephone line and its related expenses. The same also applies to the use of a cellular phone.


Cable Television

Using the same regulations, and their exclusion of expenses that are not strictly business-related, cable television service would not be considered a valid deduction, as the IRS would argue that this is mainly a home entertainment expense. However, any specific channels, programming tiers or other cable TV costs that could be proved to be directly and solely tied to your business could be allowed. Paying extra for Bloomberg or CNBC might apply.