If you're a professional carpenter -- and even if you do it just as a side job -- you can write off business expenses. As an independent contractor, you take deductions on Schedule C. If you're an employee, you can take them as miscellaneous itemized deductions. If you're a hobbyist who takes an occasional paying gig, you deduct expenses against your carpentry income on Schedule A.
If your job requires safety gear, your protective gear is deductible. That includes hard hats, safety gloves, protective boots, vests and safety glasses. The IRS specifically lists carpenters as professionals who get the write-off. Non-safety work clothes are only deductible if your client or employer requires them and they can't be worn off the job. That's "can't," not "won't." Even if you'd never be caught dead in jeans away from work, you still can't deduct your work pants.
Tools and Supplies
All your carpentry equipment is a write-off -- saws, planes, drills, hammers and anything else you use to work with wood. If you buy your own wood, nails and lacquer, your supplies are all deductible too, including sales tax and shipping. Don't forget equipment you use away from the job site. If you buy a computer for managing your business, it's deductible. Office furniture for doing paperwork is deductible too.
Business driving -- to job sites, or to drop off a new table to the buyer, say -- is tax deductible. You can take a straight per-mile write-off, 56.5 cents per mile as of 2013. The alternative is to figure what percentage of your driving is for business and deduct that percentage of your driving expenses, including gas, oil, maintenance, insurance and depreciation. If you have a company car used 100 percent for business, you can write off all your costs.
If you're self-employed and you buy health insurance for yourself and your family, you can write off 100 percent of the cost on your Form 1040. You can include coverage for an adult child under age 27 in this. If you have to hire a babysitter or put your child in day care so that you can work, you get a tax credit for some of the costs. Care for an adult who can't care for himself is also deductible.
A Durham, NC resident, Fraser has written about law, starting a business, balancing your budget and fighting evictions, among other legal and financial topics.