When Job-Search Expenses Are Tax-Deductible

You can’t write off expenses to search for a first job, but you may be able to deduct some moving costs.

My daughter graduated from college in the spring and started her first job last month. She spent a lot of money on travel and other costs for her job search over the past few months. Are those expenses tax-deductible?

Job-search expenses for a first job aren’t tax-deductible, but your daughter may be able to get a tax break if she had to move to take the new job. To qualify to deduct moving expenses, the new job must be at least 50 miles farther from your home than the old job was, and a first job must be at least 50 miles from your current home. Your daughter can deduct the cost of hiring movers to pack and transport her possessions or the cost of renting a moving van. She can also deduct travel expenses to her new home, including 23.5 cents per mile, if she drives, plus lodging (but not meals), and the cost of storing her possessions for up to 30 days between moving and delivery.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.