Tax Deductions for Traveling Union Workers

Tax Deductions for Traveling Union Workers
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When you work under a union employment agreement, you ensure that your fellow employees are looking out for your interests. Some union workers have to travel regularly for their employers as part of their jobs. If you fall into this category, you may hope you can deduct some expenses on your tax return. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Unless you're self-employed or work as a contractor, you'll now have to push harder to make sure your employer covers every dime of your own money you spend on business expenses. Legislation has been proposed that may put the right to claim those expenses back in place, however.


  • Due to chances implemented in the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the federal government will no longer allow deductions for out-of-pocket travel expenses unless you are paid as an independent contractor.

Understanding Travel Expenses

When you travel for work, you may incur some out-of-pocket travel expenses. At one time, these expenses could be deducted once they reached the 2 percent threshold, but the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated that deduction. You will need to have your employer reimburse you for those expenses. One exception to this is if you are paid as an independent contractor. Those who are self-employed or work as contractors can deduct expenses they incur during the course of building their own business, even if that business remains consistently with the same employer.

Exploring Union Expenses

When you work as part of a union, you most likely have to pay union dues to be a part of the labor union. This allows you to join the group and to be entitled to all the benefits that come with being in the union. Until recently, you could also claim those dues once they exceeded the 2 percent minimum. Unfortunately, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cut the ability to claim union dues along with other reimbursed expenses. This means that if you pay union dues, you will no longer be able to claim those dues on your taxes. If you receive income from being in the union, though, you will still have to include it as part of your taxable income and pay taxes on it.

The Tax Fairness for Workers Act

Some legislators are still fighting to reinstate the deductions for workers. The Tax Fairness for Workers Act was introduced to ask that the deductions be put back in place. In addition to asking that mileage, food and other unreimbursed expenses be reinstated, the piece of legislation also asks that union dues be claimable as an above-the-line deduction. This means that even for employees who aren't itemizing their deductions, they can claim union dues as a tax deduction.