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I’m going on a business trip to New York City this summer. What can I write off for tax purposes? I work for a small company, I’m not self-employed.


Your question is puzzling. If you’re going on a trip for work, won’t your employer pick up the tab? If you’re stuck paying the bills for a trip made at the company’s request, I hope you at least win employee of the month. If your employer pays directly or else reimburses your expenses in a somewhat formal way – there should be a procedure in place in which employees turn in receipts and file reports indicating what they spend and for what purpose – then you have nothing to deduct because you’re not left out of pocket. If you do cover some or all of the costs of the trip yourself, then by all rights you should be able to write them off. You may be out of luck, however.
Your employee-related expenses are indeed deductible, but only if you itemize all of your deductions using Schedule A of federal tax Form 1040; if you take the standard deduction, as most taxpayers do, there will be no write-off. What you may find really disappointing is that even if you do itemize, you can deduct only the expenses that exceed 2 percent of adjusted gross income. If your AGI is $100,000, for instance, you can’t claim a deduction for the first $2,000 in un-reimbursed employee expenses. You can deduct the amount beyond that, but remember that the saving will only work out to a portion of your expenses, based on your marginal tax rate, not the whole thing. Unless you’re dying to see the Big Apple this summer, you might want to maneuver a colleague into going in your place.
-Conrad de Aenlle