Tax Breaks

A Tax Break for Moving

You may be able to write off the cost of a job-related move.

I graduated from college in May and am about to move across the country to start a job in San Francisco. Are my moving expenses tax-deductible?

Congratulations on your first job! As long as your employer didn’t pay for the full cost of the move, you should qualify for the deduction. To be able to write off moving expenses, you must be taking a job at least 50 miles farther from your home than your old job was. For your first job, the job must be at least 50 miles from your current home. Because you’re moving across the country, you’ll have no trouble meeting the distance test.

You can deduct the cost of hiring movers to pack and transport your possessions or renting a moving van; travel expenses (lodging but not meals), including 23 cents per mile if you drive; and storing your stuff for up to 30 days between moving and delivery. You don’t have to itemize to take the deduction; just submit Form 3903 when you file your 2013 taxes. For more information, see IRS Publication 521.

Some people starting a new job can deduct job-search expenses, too, although not for a first job. To qualify, you must be looking for a job in the line of work you’re already in, whether or not you get the new job. The cost of printing and mailing résumés counts, as well as employment and outplacement agency fees, the cost of posting on job-search sites, and travel expenses if the trip is primarily to search for a job. Job-hunting expenses are a miscellaneous itemized deduction (like employee business expenses and investment-related expenses), which are deductible only if you itemize, and only to the extent that all of your miscellaneous write-offs exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income. For more information, see IRS Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions.

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