The term "professional counseling" can refer to a variety of services. Whether the expense of professional counseling is deductible from your taxable gross income depends on the type of service received -- that is, the reason for the counseling -- as well as the context.
If the counseling is intended to help either in your present line of work or provide guidance for a career change, it is a business expense and therefore tax-deductible. Such counseling can be for improving your resume or enhancing your interview skills. Fees for a meeting with a career coach to discuss what types of firms and positions you should seek also are deductible.
Professional counseling can also be a direct business expense if the bill is paid by a corporation. Form example, a company may hire a professional counselor to help employees cope with the stress of corporate relocation, a merger or a traumatic event, such as a fire in a warehouse. Other professional consulting and counseling fees intended to improve employee productivity or to help the business in any way are also considered business expenses and directly deductible from the company's net taxable income.
If the counseling is medical in nature, the fees may be tax-deductible. Fees paid to psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health counselors are considered medical costs. The portion of medical expenses for you and your dependents that exceed 7.5 percent of your taxable gross income are tax-deductible. You must itemize your deductions and fill out Schedule A to take advantage of this provision in the tax code. Costs incurred in getting to and from medical facilities, which would be the counselor's office in this case, as well as the cost of the medicines also count as deductible expenses. You may not deduct any medical expense for which you have already been reimbursed, whether by an insurance company, your employer or a governmental agency.
All expenses you incur for filing your tax return are tax-deductible. This includes the counseling fees paid to tax attorneys who help you determine which of your expenses are tax-deductible or who prepare and file your taxes on your behalf.
The cost of professional counseling services that do not fall into any of the aforementioned categories is not tax-deductible. The fees for such things as marriage counseling, for example, or the hours you spent with a professional golfer to improve your stroke are not deductible expenses.
Hunkar Ozyasar is the former high-yield bond strategist for Deutsche Bank. He has been quoted in publications including "Financial Times" and the "Wall Street Journal." His book, "When Time Management Fails," is published in 12 countries while Ozyasar’s finance articles are featured on Nikkei, Japan’s premier financial news service. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Kellogg Graduate School.