As a police officer, you have expenses that you will incur for your job and a fair amount of them you are not going to be able to have your employer reimburse. Recent tax law updates have reduced the number of expenses that you can deduct unless you are self-employed.
The good news is there are still general deductions for you to take into consideration. These general deductions can still reduce your overall taxable income and significantly reduce your tax bill come April. General deductions can be anything from loan interest to charitable deductions. We’ll dive into that here soon.
In 2018, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took effect. This stopped the tax breaks for the police force on many types of expenses that their employers wouldn’t reimburse, and the main qualifier was if the total amount of expenses were greater than two percent of their adjusted gross income. This meant that police officers were able to deduct many costs like uniforms, association dues, business travel, dry cleaning, protective gear, meals, cell phone fees, continuing education courses, and lodging. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will be in effect until 2025. This means that the police tax deductions listed above cannot be taken as an employee until the 2025 tax year.
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If you are a 1099 worker, that allows you to have different work-related deductions than as a W2 worker because they become business expenses. When you are filing your tax return, you will end up with an extra form to fill out, Schedule C, which is used for reporting necessary expenses you incurred for your 1099 security or law enforcement role. These expenses include equipment, uniforms, travel, insurance, fees, cell phone plans, etc.
NOTE: You can’t write off expenses from your time as full-time law enforcement officers as business expenses for your independent contractor job.
There are also tax deductions that are automatically part of being a 1099 worker. These include deducting half of your self-employment taxes and also getting up to 20% of your business income deducted when your federal government taxes are determined. Your business income tax deductions have a ceiling referred to as income limits. As a single person, the max is $157,500 and if you are married filing jointly it is a higher limit of $207,500.
Maybe you don’t end up qualifying for any of the law enforcement tax deductions available, that’s okay there are still many general deductions for all taxpayers to enjoy. If you are going to use these general tax deductions, you will need to itemize your tax deduction instead of taking the standard deduction. As of 2022, the standard deduction for single filers is $12,950, and married couples filing jointly have a standard deduction of $25,900. Some of the most used tax deductions include: