Police officers have wages reported on a W-2 form sent to them by their departments and also filed with the IRS. Even though their earnings are reported as wages and not miscellaneous income, they are eligible for certain tax deductions provided they are not reimbursed for the items or services by their departments.
Dues and Fees
Police officers with society fees and union dues are able to write off their annual expenses on their income tax returns. However, the initial application or membership fee for joining a social organization cannot be deducted. Union membership fees and strike fund donations are deductible, but contributions specifically related to individual benefits are not.
Police uniforms are typically deductible as patches and other insignia are actually sewn into the material. This makes the garment unable to be converted to street wear. As long as a uniform is not able to be worn as casual clothing outside of policing, it can be written off. Dry cleaning or alteration costs associated with uniforms are also deductible if the uniform requires the service. Shoes, safety glasses and other articles of protective clothing are deductible as well.
If a department requires an officer to have a cell phone, pager or comparative electronic device and does not provide the item, it is deductible. To properly claim this deduction, officers must ensure that their phone is only used for police business or that a call log is maintained. To avoid the paperwork of keeping a call log, officers should opt for an itemized cell phone bill that includes call records.
Automobile and Business Travel
Expenses related to a personal vehicle are only deductible under specific circumstances. Travel between home and the police station is not deductible, but travel from the police station to other work locations is. Officers can deduct travel when seeking new opportunities in another department. When traveling overnight on department related or continuing education trips, the costs are deductible up to a percentage.
Costs are deductible if police must undergo additional training to maintain their current position and rate of pay within the police department. However, if police sign up for a course to obtain a promotion or qualify for an additional job, it is not deductible.
Equipment purchased to do the job in a manner defined by the IRS as "ordinary and necessary" is eligible for deduction. Purchased equipment valued at over $100 is noted separately and not counted as a one-time deduction. Depreciation is claimed on these items over multiple years of tax filings.
Ashley Mott has 12 years of small business management experience and a BSBA in accounting from Columbia. She is a full-time government and public safety reporter for Gannett.