Track mileage automatically
Get started
Continuing Education Tax Deduction Guide
July 10, 2024 - 5 min read

Continuing Education Tax Deduction Guide

Due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes from 2018 through 2025, only small business owners and self-employed individuals can deduct eligible continuing education expenses related to their current work. These include continuing education training programs, courses, and seminars, along with costs such as license fees, training materials, supplies, and transportation.

To take the continuing education tax deduction, you must meet certain IRS criteria, keep good records, and accurately report these business expenses on your tax return.

Requirements for deducting continuing education expenses

The IRS requires that small businesses and self-employed people initially meet at least one of these criteria to be eligible for an education expense deduction:

  • You must complete the training to meet legal, professional, or employer requirements and avoid changes to your work status, such as losing your current salary or position.
  • You complete training that will either improve or keep the skills required for your current work.

Once you qualify based on those rules, the IRS lists these two additional criteria you must meet:

  • The training can’t simply provide the basic required education for your current role.
  • Even if clearly relevant to your job, your training can’t qualify you for a new line of work.

Example of deductible vs. non-deductible expenses

Let’s say you’re a self-employed Certified Public Accountant (CPA). You could deduct the continuing education needed to maintain your license and learn current tax and accounting laws. However, you wouldn’t be able to get a self-employed tax deduction for training you took to qualify for your initial CPA license, or that could lead to a different career.

Driversnote

Mileage tracking made easy

Trusted by millions of drivers

Automate your logbook Automate your logbook

Automatic mileage tracking and IRS-compliant reporting.

Get started for free Get started for free

Which continuing education expenses are deductible?

The IRS lets you deduct a wide range of education-related expenses as a business or self-employed person, including:

  • Tuition for formal courses and programs through colleges and universities
  • Online and in-person professional development courses
  • Professional seminars
  • Lab fees and other required course fees
  • Relevant books and training supplies
  • Subscriptions to industry publications
  • Professional certification and license renewal fees
  • Typing and research costs for your job-related coursework

We recommend checking IRS Publication 970 for the full details on qualifying expenses.

Travel-related continuing education expenses

Eligible transportation and travel costs can qualify if you travel directly to your training from work or return to work after the training.

These include public transportation fees and business mileage either based on the actual expenses method or the standard mileage rate ($0.67 per mile for 2024). Related tolls and parking costs also count. You can use Driversnote to track these costs conveniently.

Note that overnight travel-related expenses aren’t deductible. The same applies to travel experiences for education purposes, such as vacationing abroad to learn another language.

Writing off continuing education expenses

The IRS requires that you have records showing the continuing education costs you deduct against your business or self-employment income. Some examples include:

  • Payment records: Receipts, bank or credit card statements, canceled checks, and invoices
  • Training records: Transcripts, certificates of completion, and course descriptions
  • Travel records: Mileage logs for education-related travel and receipts for various expenses

Using your records, you can deduct the cost of eligible continuing education expenses against your income on your Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business) form. Except for travel expenses; these write-offs normally go in the “other expenses” category on line 27a. You’ll use Part V of your Schedule C to detail each expense and amount specifically.

Continuing education tax deduction for employees

The IRS doesn’t currently let most employees deduct continuing education expenses even if employers don’t reimburse them. However, the following types of employees are eligible:

  • Qualified performing artists
  • Fee-based local and state government officials
  • Armed Forces reservists
  • Disabled workers with education expenses related to impairment

The training must meet the same criteria as for small businesses and self-employed people. This means it can’t prepare you for a new role or just make you eligible for your current job. You can mostly deduct the same types of eligible education expenses, though travel between your home and training location can qualify for a deduction if the training is deemed temporary.

If you’re not currently employed, your continuing education expenses can still count if your temporary absence from work is for no longer than one year. In that case, the training must be necessary to keep or improve your existing job skills.

You’ll need records of your eligible employee continuing education costs to take the deduction. Writing off these costs requires completing Schedule A to itemize your expenses and completing Form 2106 (Employee Business Expenses).

FAQ

While professional development courses usually aren’t tax deductible for employees, you can write off eligible online and in-person courses as business expenses as a small business or self-employed person. Make sure the courses are necessary for your current work and don’t qualify you for a new career.
You can deduct work-related education expenses – such as training courses, fees, materials, and travel – if you are part of an eligible employee group, own a business, or work for yourself. The expenses must qualify per the IRS rules, and special rules apply if you receive employer reimbursements.

Tired of logging mileage by hand?

Effortless. IRS-compliant. Liberating.

Auto-track trips
Classify trips
IRS compliant reports
Latest posts
Automate your mileage logbook
Effortless and compliant mileage tracking
Get started for free Get started for free

Related posts

IRS Mileage Guide
IRS Mileage Guide

January 15, 2024 - 10 min read

Mileage reimbursement in the US — rates and rules for employees, self-employed and employers in the US.

IRS Mileage Rates 2024
IRS Mileage Rates 2024

January 2, 2024 - 2 min read

The standard mileage rate for business will be 67 cents per mile, effective Jan. 1st, 2024 - up 1.5 cents from the 2023 rate of 65.5 cents.

Self-Employed Tax Deductions
Self-Employed Tax Deductions

July 11, 2024 - 5 min read

For the self-employed, every tax deduction counts. Check out the top self-employed tax deductions to reduce what you owe the IRS.