Doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers and many other professionals join associations to further their skills and communicate with peers. In many cases, dues paid to these associations are deductible expenses. The Internal Revenue Service sets guidelines for qualified expenses and requires that you itemize these and other employment-related deductions in order to write them off.
Paying Your Qualifying Dues
According to guidelines published by the IRS, dues paid to a professional association are tax-deductible if membership in the association assists you in performing your job. A doctor, for example, could claim his membership dues to the American Medical Association, as the AMA routinely provides important information on health care delivery. A lawyer could deduct his bar association dues, as state bars keep their members up to date on important court decisions and offer continuing legal education.
Claiming Miscellaneous Deductions
Professional association dues are noted under the general heading of Unreimbursed Employee Expenses. Claim these expenses on Schedule A, the form for listing all itemized deductions. Add these and other miscellaneous deductions together, and deduct only that amount that exceeds 2 percent of your adjusted gross income, showing on Line 38 of your Form 1040. If your employer reimburses you for any professional association dues, you can't deduct them.
You can not claim professional association dues if they're not related to your job, or to the earning of taxable income. If you are an amateur pilot and have joined a local pilots club or association, you don't have an unreimbursed employee expense. On the other hand, if you're a self-employed freelance writer, you would be able to claim membership in a writer's group, since that's related to a source of income.
Businesses and Clubs
A business may deduct its professional fees, but the IRS does not allow a company to deduct club membership dues, even if the club was organized primarily for business purposes. This includes athletic clubs, airline clubs, golf clubs and hotel clubs. Nor can a business deduct the expenses of an entertainment facility or club that it owns. One-time, out-of-pocket entertainment expenses, however, are deductible if the purpose of the event was primarily an associated business matter. Up to 50 percent of the expense can be deducted on Line 24b of Schedule C.
Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.