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Career-Life Times, Issue #2 -- Job Search Expenses May be Tax Deductible!
March 06, 2004
Welcome to the second issue of CAREER-LIFE TIMES! I hope you find it to be informative, useful, entertaining, and -- most of all -- worth reading!
If you don't like it, there's an unsubscribe link at the end. But instead of doing that, tell me how I can make it better! My email address is at the end. I greatly value your ideas and suggestions. After all, this newsletter is FOR YOU.
Now let's get on with it. Here's what's in this issue:
* Your Job Search Expenses May Be Tax Deductible!
This article is reprinted by permission of its author, my friend Eva Rosenberg. When it comes to taxes, Eva really knows her stuff! Enjoy...
The Job Hunting Safari"
By Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA
Next to death, divorce ... and OK, taxes, having to look for a job is the most stressful thing you ever face. Especially now, when the economy seems so uncertain. Companies you could count on to have openings, no longer do. So the job search is taking longer and the final results may not offer the kind of compensation you expected at the outset.
To make it all worse, since you don't know when you will be back at work, this is kind of a limbo time. People rarely use it productively, to take some leisure time to re-energize after a tough few years on the last job, or to start a cherished, but long-deferred project. Looking back, if you had known you had that much time coming, you'd have done it all so differently.
Let's talk about just two of those things you must do differently right now. Record-keeping and taxes.
Most people who are out of work get so lost in their misery, that despite having more free time than ever, they just don't seem to be able to get their tax data together -- and they generally don't file tax returns for that year -- and then the problem compounds the next year -- until it takes over your life and your credit for years, once you try to recover . So, get on with it -- NOW!
Enough about that. Let's talk about what you can deduct during your job hunting safari. Aw heck, first let's talk about what you can't deduct and get that out of the way.
The three kinds of expenses you CANNOT deduct are:
1) Costs to land a job in a new career or profession.
That's clear. So, what costs CAN you deduct?
Advisor's Fees -- Career counselors, resume preparers, business coaches, therapists (if they are helping you with your job search).
Mileage -- Driving to/from interviews, to/from all those advisors above, to/from job fairs, trade shows, conventions, any networking, personal marketing events, to/from getting business supplies, tools, materials. Where else did you go that can honestly be interpreted as job hunting?
Parking -- Fees, valets, meter expenses.
Other transportation costs -- Tolls, subways, trains, bus fares, cabs, rental cars.
Supplies -- Paper (especially the good kind for resumes), envelopes printer/typewriter supplies, toner, cartridges, disks, tapes, CDs, other back-up media, files, organizers, appointment books, calculators, cabinets, labels.
Printing costs -- Business cards, resumes, promotional materials.
Equipment -- Be really careful here -- don't expect to write off your computer, printer, etc. for job hunting. Looking for a job is meant to be a short-term function and those are designed to be depreciated over 5 years.
Travel -- Ah! A really popularly abused expense. Only use this expense if the main purpose of your trip was for job interviews. Be prepared to show a list of the companies in that town with whom you met, dates/times. It would help if you had letters either setting up the interview or following up after the fact (preferably from them). You can also write off travel to continuing education, to enhance your skills, and to network with peers who can hire or recommend you.
Meals and Entertainment -- another seriously abused expense. But, let's face it, the really good jobs, the ones in the 6+ figures, generally come about because of WHO you know, not what you know. Clearly, the best jobs come about due to schmoozing. Sometimes, it's a matter of hanging out at the right restaurants and being there to catch the eye of the key executive you want to meet. Sometimes, it's a matter of taking the right person to lunch, dinner, a sporting event or play. So, don't overlook these costs just because they've been abused. But do use them, so that they make sense.
The Keys to Keeping Deductions
The key to writing off these costs -- and any costs, really -- is documentation. If you WRITE down who, what, when, where and WHY this is a business deduction, you won't lose it during an audit.
Remember, the IRS knows that not all of your interviews will result in a job. And they know that in this economy it may take more creativity and cleverness to get a good job. So, they count on you to tell them why your expenses really are job expenses. Do it right, and you'll save yourself a fortune on your taxes. And let's face it, while you're out of work, you'll need the money!
This article can be found at Eva's website, www.TaxMama.com , along with many other tax and financial resources. Check out her site, and consider subscribing to "Ask TaxMama," Eva's free weekly tax newsletter about tax issues that affect your life.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics recently announced what it expects to be the fastest growing occupations between the years 2002 and 2012. If you're thinking about making a career change to a field with good growth potential, perhaps you should consider one of these options:
1. Medical Assistants (59% increase expected)
For more information, go to www.bls.gov .
You're at a job interview. You're doing great, answering questions left and right. You're enthusiastic, upbeat, confident. Then they ask, "Why did you leave your last job?" An image of your former boss, red-faced and screaming, pops your head. He was such a jerk! You desperately want to vent your frustrations and tell them why you HAD to quit, but you hesitate, thinking... is honesty the best policy in THIS situation?
There's no better way to present yourself as a whiner than to complain about a former boss or job. Even if you left a job because your boss was an egomaniac who took credit for all of your hard work, verbally abused you in front of others, and poisoned the plant on your desk, don't say anything bad about him/her during an interview. If you do, the interviewer may think you have a problem with authority or can’t get along with others. After all, they don't know you. And as an authority figure, they may more easily identify with your maligned former boss than with you. It's best not to count on them believing YOUR side of the story, even if it IS the truth.
So instead of saying "My boss was an incompetent idiot," choose one of these sample responses, whichever fits your particular situation best:
"My manager and I both agreed that my advancement opportunities were limited there and obtaining another position was the best option for me and my career goals." Be prepared for a possible follow-up question such as "What ARE your career goals?"
"I wanted more challenging assignments." This is a nice way of saying you were bored out of your mind. Prepare to follow it up with a statement that links your desire for challenges with a specific aspect of the position for which you are applying.
"I'm looking for an organization that supports its people." This could trigger the "Can you expand on that?" question, so be sure to have a response planned, such as "All of the incentives were individually based. I think it's more important to reward the entire team for its contributions."
"My career goals have changed." This is a great response if you are going into a new field. However, companies want people who can hit the ground running, so be prepared to explain how your past experiences make you a good candidate for this new job.
One or all of these may be variations of the real story, so you won't really be lying about why you left your last job. You just won't be giving them the whole truth!
We naturally hesitate to tell our boss when we can't do something or are feeling overwhelmed in our job. Bosses don't want to hear that, right? Well, it depends.
In many situations, your boss is so busy that he/she doesn't keep track of how much work you're doing. When your boss gives you a new project, he's not thinking about all the other projects you're already working on. And here's the kicker -- unless you speak up and tell your boss that you can't handle the workload he's giving you, he'll assume everything is fine. This can have bad consequences for you AND your boss. You know what will happen. Eventually things will start falling through the cracks or you'll rush through tasks and start making mistakes. You can only do so much in a day, and deadlines will be missed. While you're stressing out, work that your boss needs you to do is NOT being done.
When this happens, your boss will not appreciate your excuse: "But I had too much to do, I was overloaded with work!" Saying that AFTER the fact will be much worse than telling your boss up front -- before mistakes occur or deadlines are missed -- that you're having trouble with your workload. It is your responsibility to tell him when you are overwhelmed, and there's nothing wrong with doing this. Of course, you don't want to tell your boss, "I can't do that; I'm too busy." But you can say, "I'll be happy to take that on, but I need your help with prioritizing the other projects you've already given me. Which jobs can I put on hold or delegate to someone else while I work on this new one?" That's way better than keeping your mouth shut, trying to do too much, and failing miserably.
If you’re like me, you’ll soon be “Spring Cleaning” your closet -- getting out the warm-weather clothes and storing away the winter duds. I have a couple of nice suits that I no longer wear, and instead of stashing them in a bag for a future garage sale or charity drive, I’m going to send them off for special duty to change someone’s life.
There are thousands of low-income women, many of them single mothers, who are desperate to enter the workforce. They can barely afford to put food on their table, much less buy clothes for a job interview.
A donation of just one suit can empower a woman struggling in a low-income situation to start a new life of self-sufficiency and success. So I’m sending my suits to Dress For Success. This not-for-profit organization provides interview suits, confidence boosts and career development to more than 45,000 low-income women in over 75 cities each year. They’re promoting a special nationwide donation drive (S.O.S. – Send One Suit) during March 14-20, 2004.
If you’ve got an interview suit you no longer need, consider donating it for this worthwhile cause. Get all the details at their website, www.DressForSuccess.org .
Without work, one finishes nothing.
The prize will not be sent to you.
You have to win it.
The man who knows how will always have a job.
The man who also knows why will always be his boss.
As to methods, there may be a million and then some,
but principles are few.
The man who grasps principles
can successfully select his own methods.
The man who tries methods, ignoring principles,
is sure to have trouble."
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
and the truth shall set you free."
On a plumber's truck: "We repair what your husband fixed."
At a pizza shop: "Buy our pizza. We knead the dough."
At a tire shop: "Invite us to your next blowout."
In a plastic surgeon's office: "Would you like to pick your nose?"
On an electrician's truck: "Let us remove your shorts."
On a maternity room door: "Push. Push. Push."
In an optometrist's office: "If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."
In a podiatrist's office: "Time wounds all heels."
Outside a muffler shop: “No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."
In a veterinarian's waiting room: "Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!"
At the electric company: "We would be delighted if you pay your bill. However, if you don't, you will be."
In the front yard of a funeral home: "Drive carefully. We'll wait."
Tips from TV? Are there any shows that can help us in our quest to progress in the career of our choice?
Let’s consider that so-called reality show, “The Apprentice.” From this series, we can learn about teamwork, leadership, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, ambition, greed, blaming others, scheming, backstabbing, and horribly bad hair. “Survivor” offers many of the same educational opportunities, plus a big lesson on the value of preparation. (How is it that none of this season’s “veterans” learned how to start a fire before being stranded!?!)
The show “24” gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “having a bad day at work.” I get frustrated when I have to attend too many boring meetings, so I just don’t think I could remain in a position where I’m likely to get kidnapped, tortured, shot, bombed, exposed to a deadly virus, betrayed by my favorite coworker, or counseled by my supervisor for shooting somebody who really deserved it – all in the same day. Where are the Union reps?!?
“The Sopranos” offers some great insights into leadership and loyalty, as well as lessons about how a stressful job can adversely affect your health and family life.
One career-oriented TV movie I’d like to recommend is “Door-to-Door.” If you’re into sales (or not) and could use career tips along with a little inspirational boost, check this movie out. It’s the true story of Bill Porter and how he overcame the challenges of being born with cerebral palsy and having to work the company’s worst sales route to become Salesman of the Year. His keys to success? Patience and persistence. And – the ultimate lesson for anyone in sales – building relationships with your customers. Bill is now in his 70s, but instead of being retired, he’s still selling. You can visit his website at www.BillPorter.com .
Is California Cursed? There’s an ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times” (or something like that). Well, I live in a very interesting state – California. What other state has a governor who’s a former bodybuilder, movie star and evil-then-good cyborg? Interesting, huh? We have a basketball star accused of rape, a baseball star accused of using steroids, a football star accused of DUI. (I heard a heart-wrenching story recently that when the 49ers first signed up Jeff Garcia, they could’ve chosen Tom Brady! Oh, the pain!) We have a major city mayor who’s breaking state law to marry gay couples. We have the biggest state economy with the largest state deficit in the country. We’re currently paying about $2 a gallon for gasoline, even though we have our own refineries. Interesting, huh? We have notorious fertilizer-salesman and accused double-murderer Scott Peterson. Oh, and don’t forget Nostradamus’s prediction that we’re going to fall off into the ocean! And those are just a few of the interesting happenings in California. One thing’s for sure, living in California is rarely boring!
What do you want to know about job interviews? I’m writing a book that will provide tons of tips on how to ace the job interview – yes,
even more tips than on my website! So, if you tell me your most burning questions, toughest challenges and greatest frustrations about job interviews,
I’ll do all the research to address those issues and provide solutions for you in my book. Then I’ll sell it to you. Just kidding! I’ll actually give it to you
f-r-e-e if you give me some useful ideas and then agree to “critique” the book for me after it’s done. Send your ideas, questions and
suggestions for the book, and your request for a f-r-e-e copy when it’s written, to me at my email address,
. This is a limited-time offer that expires on April Fools Day. (But it’s not a joke!)
P.S. I apologize for the glitches you may see if you receive this as straight text. If you can receive your email in the HTML format, choose that and it'll look a lot better. Don't worry, I won't have any slowing graphics.
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