Being a nurse can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a career. While the shifts are long and the work can sometimes feel grueling, nurses have one of the most important jobs on Earth – taking care of people when they need it the most!
As a nurse, taxes are the last thing you want to think about. You may be asking questions like “Can I write off my scrubs?” or “What tax deductions can a nurse take?” Taxes can truly be a pain when all you want to do is provide care so we wanted to make an easy-to-read list of tax deductions for nurses and other healthcare professionals so you can go back to what you do best – helping people.
Tax Deductions For Nurses
Let’s first clarify something. There are 2 types of classifications; employee and self-employed that you have to be concerned with when it comes time to take deductions.
For those that are employees (W2)
According to Intuit: Employee business expenses are a limited deduction. You can claim them only if You can itemize deductions, and they exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income.
As an employee, if you’re looking to deduct anything you should speak with a licensed tax professional and consult this FAQ on the IRS website that talks about Pub 529 miscellaneous deductions – https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-publication-529
For those that are independent contractors; self-employed (1099)
The world of business deductions open up a bit more for those nurses that are self-employed. Just like any other self-employed individual you have a host of options available to you that ordinary employees do not.
For the full list of what is and isn’t allowed please check out this link from the IRS – https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/deducting-business-expenses
Common Tax Deductions For Nurses
- Work Clothes (Uniform Only, i.e. scrubs)
- Education & Training
- Licensing & Union Dues
- Vehicle Mileage & Travel Expenses
#1: Work clothes
Most people do not have the opportunity to write off their work clothing, but nurses do to an extent. Why? Because scrubs are considered uniforms and according to the IRS, the cost of uniforms can be deducted as an expense.
In fact, the IRS attempted some humor here in a PDF document titled “Is This Deductible?” – If you scroll down to Uniforms you will clearly see that along with airline pilots, state & federal workers like postal carriers and policemen you’ll find nurses.
After all it makes sense. Scrubs are 100% work-related attire. Yes, you might be stopping by the grocery store after work in your scrubs, but you’re definitely not wearing them for fashion – it’s all function, and a required article of clothing in your profession.
There is one caveat, though. You are only allowed to expense non-reimbursable uniforms. This means that even if you paid for your scrubs yourself, if your employer reimbursed you for the cost of the scrubs you can’t deduct them. Makes sense right? That would be double-dipping and the IRS isn’t too fond of that.
While it would be nice if every worker in every profession were allowed to expense clothing, the reality is that it’s just not allowed. Nurses aren’t required to wear $10,000 Italian suits and neither are bankers – it’s a choice. Imagine if the IRS were to allow to clothing expenses?!
Hello Jimmy Choo!
But, seriously. Let’s talk about shoes for a second.
As a nurse you’re going to be on your feet all day. Long shifts that require a lot of back-and-forth also require shoes that can keep up with the demand.
Sadly, it depends.
There are some instances where if a particular shoe, like clogs, are mandated by your place of work then it could be deductible, but just any shoe you desire for work – no.
There are also a number of resources out there that claim that nurses can write off scrubs, shoes & stethoscopes. Quite frankly, deducting everything you use in the course of a day for work is a slippery slope and it’s important to check with a licensed tax specialist before attempting to deduct these or other items as they may not be allowed.
Always err on the safe side when it comes to the IRS!
#2: Education & Training
You can deduct continuing education (CE) programs that are required to keep/renew your license or continued employment. Educational expenses that prepare you for a new occupation are not tax-deductible; which means nursing students are not permitted to deduct the cost of their tuition in a nursing program.
Interested in seeing some government programs that provide education credits? As always, there are strict rules that apply to acceptance.
#3: Licensing & Union Dues
Pay union dues? Renewing your RN registration? What about unreimbursed background check fees or fingerprinting? If these were out-of-pocket costs for you and were required to be accepted or keep a a nursing job – they may be deductible.
#4: Vehicle Mileage & Travel Expenses
Do you make house calls? Travel to events? You may be able to deduct $0.54/mile in addition to other business expenses incurred during these trips.
Did you know the IRS standard deduction for mileage is $0.54/mile? If you’re driving for work and you’re not using an app like Everlance to automatically track your business mileage and expenses (such as all of the expenses listed above!) then you absolutely need to check it out.
Everlance is the perfect tool for traveling nurses. Every time you drive the app runs silently in the background tracking your mileage. When you’re done you can swipe left or right, for personal or business and the trip will be classified for later use.
After each trip you’ll also be able to see just how much money you can deduct! It’s pretty amazing how well Everlance works without much input. You’re busy enough, right?