What Can Nurses Deduct from Their Taxes?

Deborah Chiaravalloti - 01/29/19

It’s tax time again and knowing what you can deduct can save you some money. The rules change each year and this year is no exception. In addition to our blog post that teaches you How to Write Off Your Nursing CEUs When You File Your Tax Returns, here is some information you need as you prepare your 2019 tax filing (for the calendar year 2018).

Nurses can have business deductions 

You may not have your own business, but you may still have business deductions. Nurses can deduct certain business expenses from their 2019 taxes, given you have receipts for the purchases. Here are some examples of deductions you may be able to take:

  • Fees for professional memberships and union dues
  • Uniforms: If you are required to wear specific clothing for your work, including uniforms, protective equipment, and/or uniforms with a logo you may be able to deduct those costs, and the costs of laundering them. However, to be deducted, wearing the uniforms must be mandatory.
  • Stationary: Workbooks, log books, and planners purchased for the specific purpose of work use may be deductions
  • Computer/laptop: If your computer is used only for work, you can claim depreciation of the technology based on legitimate work use
  • Mobile phone: You may be able to claim the percentage of phone use for work related calls. You cannot deduct costs for a phone that is paid for by your employer.
  • Subscriptions: If you subscribe to trade magazines, books and journals that help to maintain current skills, you can deduct the costs
  • Home office expenses: If you have to work from home you can claims a percentage of internet and phone costs. However, claiming home office expenses can be tricky and is regulated very strictly by the IRS. Make sure you follow the letter of the law here as the IRS pays very close attention to home office expenses and has focused on it specifically in recent years.

Travel expenses 

If you are a travel nurse, tax changes implemented by the Trump administration impact you directly when filing your taxes for 2018. The changes do not affect per diems and stipends. However, for other travel nurses, some of the deductions may have a major impact on your taxes. reports the following changes for travel nurses:

  1. Employee expense deductions no longer exist under the new law. Therefore, travel nurses can no longer deduct travel-related expenses, mileage, CEUs, licenses, etc.
  2. If your agency gives you less than the GSA allowable amount for per diems (meals, incidentals) you are no longer permitted to deduct the remaining amount.
  3. With the previous tax law, for example, if you received $35 a day for meals/incidentals and you were working in a $74 per day area (in regards to the GSA guidelines), you could deduct the additional $39 per day on your tax return. As of January 1, 2018, this is no longer allowed.
  4. As a second example, if you drive 2,000 miles to a new travel nursing assignment and only get $300 in travel pay, you cannot deduct the difference. recommends checking the website for a very detailed look at what is allowed, and we agree. They cover everything from the difference between a tax home and a permanent residence to wage issues and the “50 mile rule”. It’s worth perusing the site and making sure you know what can, and cannot, be deducted as a travel nurse.

There can be many other deductions you can take based on your specific employment and work activities. It is best to check with a tax professional to make sure that you are taking full advantage of deductions and filing taxes properly. Check with your professional association for recommendations on local tax experts who are familiar with the nursing profession and healthcare deductions.