Are you wondering, “What can police officers claim on tax forms?”
Well, the question is worth considering if you happen to be in the police force. Like other taxpayers, you have the right to enjoy any available tax write-offs for police officers to reduce what you owe the IRS. So, it helps to know how to report your income and what you can write off on your taxes.
The 1099 and Law Enforcement Side Hustles
As a police officer, you could work in other jobs off-duty as an independent contractor or self-employed business owner. The jobs available include security jobs, crime scene cleanups, dog training, gun instructor jobs, etc.
When you perform some of these side hustles, you may be issued with a Form 1099-NEC for law enforcement work outside your normal employment. The form is usually issued for earnings greater than $600 in any given year and enables you to report your income on Schedule C.
However, if a law enforcement salary is the only income you have, you would receive a W-2 form to help you out when filing taxes.
Read More: How Does a 1099 Form Work?
Credits and Tax-Deductible Expenses for Police Officers
As a police officer, you are in a much better position to claim tax-deductible expenses if you have a second job where you're an independent contractor. That's because employees usually can't claim unreimbursed costs. However, you can also look into some general tax deductions not tied to your employment status.
Some of the expenses you might include in your police tax checklist are:
- Safety equipment
- Union dues
- Continuing education
- Books and publications
- Charitable donations
- Car-related expenses
1. Safety Equipment, Uniforms and Union Dues
Can a police officer write off a gun? Yes, they can if it's a business expense rather than unreimbursed cost as an employee.
If you have a side hustle that requires safety equipment, such as a gun and ammunition for a security job, you could deduct them if they are part of the ordinary and necessary expenses required for conducting your business or trade.
So, a gun is one of the firearms instructor tax write-offs you can enjoy based on how you use it to further your trade or business. And uniforms too, may qualify for tax write-offs if you're self-employed because you cannot wear them for personal purposes.
In addition, you can also claim required electronic devices, such as phones if you use them for business, and your union dues and fees as part of your self-employed business expenses. Also, strike funds payments are deductible.
2. Seminars and Continuing Education
The IRS provides a Lifetime Learning Credit of up to $2,000 per return for anyone studying in eligible institutions while paying for qualified educational expenses.
Also, if you're self-employed, you can deduct work-related education expenses if the educational courses you are undertaking help to maintain or improve your present work or are required by law. In this case, you can deduct some travel and transportation costs, the costs of books, tuition, lab fees and research and typing costs, among others.
3. Car-Related Expenses
You can deduct your car-related expenses if you use your car for business purposes. In fact, if you have a car dedicated only to your side hustle, you could deduct its entire cost of purchase and operation over several years. However, if you also use it for personal purposes, you can only deduct its expenses partially based on how much you use it for business.
When deducting the transportation expenses, you could use the standard mileage rate or the actual expenses method. The latter itemizes all the costs associated with operating the car, such as insurance, oil and repairs. And the former is based on the $0.56 per mile for business use in 2021 and $0.14 per mile for charitable use for the 2021 tax year.
4. SALT Deductions
The state and local taxes (SALT) are worth claiming especially if you live in state with high rates of local taxes and you tend to itemize deductions. These taxes include state and local income taxes or sales taxes, as well as property taxes.
You can claim up to $10,000 if you itemize your deductions as a married person filling separately and up to $10,000 if you file with other statuses.
5. Standard Deductions
If you prefer not to itemize, you can claim standard deductions. For the 2021 tax year, the deductions are $12,550 for married but filing single and singles, $18,800 for heads of households and $25,100 for those filing joint returns. And those limits will increase to $12,950, $19,400 and $25,900 respectively for the 2022 tax year.
6. Charitable Deductions
As stated above, you can claim standard mileage deductions of 14 cents per mile if you use your vehicle for charitable purposes. But you can also claim up to $300 as a single taxpayer in 2021 if you make qualified charitable cash donations while claiming standard deductions.
Also, you can claim up to 100 percent of your adjusted gross income as an individual or up to 25 percent of your corporation’s taxable income if you make qualified donations.
To accurately write off expenses on your taxes, it would be wise to hire professionals in tax preparation for police officers. That way, you will only claim what you should and thus, avoid getting into legal trouble in case of an IRS audit.
- IRS.Gov: Form 1099-NEC
- Law Enforcement Today: Every cop needs to read this before doing their taxes
- IRS.Gov: Is this Deductible? My barber seems to think so!
- IRS.Gov: Lifetime Learning Credit
- IRS.Gov: Topic No. 513 Work-Related Education Expenses
- IRS.Gov: Here’s the 411 on who can deduct car expenses on their tax returns
- IRS.Gov: IRS issues standard mileage rates for 2022
- IRS.Gov: Topic No. 503 Deductible Taxes
- IRS.Gov: IRS provides tax inflation adjustments for tax year 2021
- IRS.Gov: IRS joins leading nonprofit groups to highlight special charitable tax benefit available through Dec. 31
- IRS.Gov: Charitable Contribution Deductions
I hold a BS in Computer Science and have been a freelance writer since 2011. When I am not writing, I enjoy reading, watching cooking and lifestyle shows, and fantasizing about world travels.