As a law enforcement officer, you are entitled to a wealth of income tax deductions - if you know where to find them. While most tax preparers will know basic deductions like union dues, a firm that is experienced in the special needs of correctional officers can save you thousands of dollars through less obvious income tax deductions.
Every year, law enforcement officers are faced with substantial out-of-pocket expenses, many of which are tax deductible. Key areas to find income tax deductions include:
- Uniform Expenses
Last year, Malkasian Accountancy started working with a Folsom law enforcement officer who had been paying between $4,000 and $5,000 a year in taxes. By making a few adjustments to his return and taking advantage of eligible deductions, we were able to earn him a several thousand dollar tax return instead.
The following examples are used to educate law enforcement personnel about the depth and variety of income tax deductions they are eligible for. These income tax deductions for law enforcement officers are just the tip of the iceberg, and I strongly encourage you to work with a knowledgeable tax preparation firm to help you make the most of your return.
Uniform purchases and maintenance are a significant expense every law enforcement officer faces. It's also one of the first places to look for income tax deductions for law enforcement officers. Again, most officers will take advantage of the obvious law enforcement deductions like the uniform itself, but to maximize your savings, you need to dig deeper.
From patches to dry cleaning, most expenses associated with your uniform and work appearance are deductible. That includes watches, sunglasses, badges… even haircuts! While these expenses may not be massive individually, when you put them together, they can add up to thousands in law enforcement deductions on your tax return.
Equipment deductions are another area of opportunity that not all law enforcement officers take full advantage of. Are you currently deducting your duty weapons? Probably. But what about your off-duty weapons? Or your rain gear? All of these are eligible law enforcement deductions that will save you money. From your flashlight (and the batteries!) to your PDA, Blackberry or day-timer, the equipment you use on the job and to prepare you for your job are all legitimate write-offs on your tax return.
Like your uniform and equipment, money you invest in training to maintain or improve your job performance is all tax deductible. Did you attend a work-related seminar this year? The seminar itself, plus travel, meal and lodging expenses may be deductible. This same theory applies to any job-related college classes, including tuition, books and supplies.
More "hands-on" training is covered in this area as well. Any range fees (including the ammo) are deductible. Did you purchase any work-out equipment - free weights? Sweats? Even your running shoes may be written off.
As I mentioned, these are just a few of the law enforcement deductions that a tax preparer who regularly works with law enforcement officers can use to save you money. Finding a local tax preparer who understands the specific opportunities law enforcement officers are eligible for may be difficult, but fortunately, the Internet, e-mail and even the post office make it easy for law enforcement officers to work with a knowledgeable preparer, even if they're half a state away.
This tax season, don't just settle for the standard income tax deductions. With a little knowledge and an experienced tax preparer, you can put a nice-sized return back in your pocket rather than giving it to the government.
Gary Malkasian is one of the principals of Malkasian Accountancy, a tax preparation firm with more than 28 years experience working with law enforcement officers across California. We can find the most income tax deductions for law enforcement officers to help you get the return you deserve.
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Call 916.971.9315 / 1-800-598-9646 to schedule a free consultation. We'll discuss your specific needs, what income tax deductions for law enforcement officers are available and how Malkasian Accountancy can help you achieve your objectives.