Quote from Angie O'Plasty, RN
What can I deduct that's work-related?
My books, education expenses, stethoscopes and other equipment, uniforms?
How about my Internet access since I do so much that's related to nursing?
Or am I stretching it?
Many, many years ago I did a short stint with H & R Block, after taking their tax prep course.
You CANNOT deduct education which prepares you for a new occupation. Years ago the tax courts decided that, for instance, a real estate agent could not deduct classes which prepared him to become a real estate broker. (Not a big difference, at all.) So, can you deduct education to become a CCRN? Not sure. To become an NP, CNS or CNRA -- doubtful -- but check with your tax adviser. Over 16 years, my enrolled agent has always asked me -- since I have had some large educational deductions -- to make sure that the education I did not prepare me for a new occupation.
You cannot deduct your computer, in general, unless you can show that the primary (only?) use that you use it for is for your occupation. I bought a Macintosh years ago when I started working at Apple, and she thought that was a fairly gray area. I also deducted my computer & equipment when I said that I used it for learning more about computers (I was a programmer) and for daytrading (many, many hours). Why you can deduct expenses related to investments but not education for a new profession is one of the great puzzlers.
Unfortunately for many people, many of these deductions are unavailable to them unless they itemize deductions because they have to be deducted in the "miscellaneous expenses" part of schedule A--which has a "floor"--you have to have deductions over a certain % of your adjusted gross income ("AGI"). You can deduct uniforms as long as they are required for work and cannot be worn anywhere else. Professional journals, organizations, conferences, test fees, etc., are all game; any education for maintaining your skills (all those CEU expenses can be deducted. Travel to conferences is deductible, but if you also vacation afterward, your travel expenses are proportional to the amount of time spent conferencing vs. vacationing--AND there is a limit to how much vacation you can take, or you may not be able to deduct it at all.)
Charitable deductions. You can deduct expenses directly for contributions that you make, obviously. But you can also deduct expenses for travel to and from any charitable work; any special uniforms (I volunteer with the Red Cross and have a couple of red cross polos and a "gimme" cap that would have been deductible.) Since I am an EMT, and volunteer at that level, any expenses to maintain my EMT (e.g., CEUs) are deductible, but not the initial costs of the EMT education itself.
For those of you in high state income tax states, like California, you most likely can itemized deductions just from deducting the state income taxes. I am happy to pay because my tax person does not really charge that much (I've always paid less than $200+, even with some complicated taxes--and I always file Sched A--and the fees are deductible!) The tax person, then, not me, is keeping up with changes in the tax law--well worth the time I save!
If I recall, the granddaddy publication is something like "Pub 17A". Yes, you can do your own taxes, but if you have any complexity at all, anything that is a grey area, it pays to get them done. There has been a rumor that you are far less likely to get audited if you have your taxes prepared -- except if you have them prepared by someone who has already had several clients audited (ask before hiring!).
One thing you might look at, if you are working and are planning to get your CRNA or CNS or NP is to make use of the educational IRAs. You can use them for yourself. But don't quote me on it.
As always -- caveat emptor -- I am NOT a tax professional and what I am giving is not tax advice. You should always consult with a professional tax advisor before implementing any suggestions.