If you work in construction, whether as an employee or an independent contractor, there are several work-related expenses you may be able to claim as a tax write-off. These include the cost of work clothes, tools and transportation, among others. The IRS allows you to deduct such items only if they meet IRS guidelines.
If your employer requires you buy specific clothes for the job, you may be able to write off the cost. Safety gear, such as a hard hat, work boots or gloves, is a legitimate deduction. If your boss requires you to wear specific clothes beyond that -- a blue T-shirt and jeans, for example -- the deduction depends on whether you could wear them off the job. If they're acceptable off-duty wear, you can't claim a deduction, even if you only wear them while you're at work.
If you buy your own tools, you can deduct them or claim depreciation on them. If you join a union, you can deduct most of your membership dues but not any money that goes toward your pension or your benefits, however. You can claim any insurance premiums you pay as a deduction -- not including any part of the premium your employer pays -- and any medical costs resulting from job injuries that aren't covered by insurance or workers' compensation.
If you travel from your boss's office to the work site, or between two work sites in a single day, you can either write off a percentage of your vehicle's annual costs or claim a per-mile deduction. If accept temporary work on a project outside your "metropolitan area," in the IRS' words, you can deduct the costs of traveling to the project location. If your employer reimburses you for any costs, you cannot claim them as a deduction.
If you work as an independent contractor, you can deduct any unreimbursed expenses on Schedule C, the form where you report self-employment income. You can also deduct one half of your self-employment tax and 100 percent of your health insurance premiums on your 1040 form. If you're an employee, you can only claim unreimbursed expeses if you itemize deductions. Add up your expenses and deduct 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. Whatever remains is your write off.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.