Can I Deduct My Cell Phone Bill on My Taxes?

by Jordan Meyers, Demand Media
    Deduct business cell phone expenses on your tax return.

    Deduct business cell phone expenses on your tax return.

    If you're like many people, you use your cell phone more than your home telephone service. It just makes sense that something you use so much should be tax deductible. If you use your phone for business, either your own or an employer's, you can deduct expenses related to it. Unfortunately, personal calls don't count.

    Strictly Business or Just Personal

    Much to the dismay of people across the country, the IRS will only allow a tax deduction for a cell phone if the cell phone is used for business. If you use your cell phone to text your sweetheart or call your Aunt Martha, there's no hope of a tax deduction. If, however, your cell phone is necessary for conducting your business, you can deduct related expenses on your tax return.

    Mixed Use

    You may use your cell phone for both business and personal use. In such a case, you won't be restricted from deducting cell phone expenses on your tax return as long as it is primarily used for business. Instead, you'll have to deduct the portion of your cell phone expenses that are tied to your business. For example, if your cell phone is used for your business 60 percent of the time, you can deduct 60 percent of your expenses.The 40 percent you spend communicating with friends and family is off limits.

    Deductible Cell Phone Expenses

    You can deduct the total amount of your cell phone bills, including any activation fees, on your tax return as long as the calls were business related. Include calls in which you spoke with customers, employees and co-workers, inquired about supplies and handled business-related disputes. Calls made to talk to potential clients, set up meetings, check your business account balance and learn about new business opportunities count as well. In addition, you can even deduct the money you paid for a new cell phone.

    Employee Use

    You can also deduct the business use of a cell phone if you are an employee rather than a business owner. You will only qualify, however, if your employer requires you to maintain a cell phone for business use. Calls you make after normal business hours do not count toward this deduction.

    Audit Proof

    In the event of an audit, your cell phone expenses may be scrutinized. In such a case, you will need to show that your expense deductions were legitimate. Maintain copies of your cell phone bills and keep receipts for new cell phones, cell phone accessories, batteries and chargers as well. In addition, keeping an itemized call list may help you prove you were dialing a customer rather than ordering pizza.

    About the Author

    Jordan Meyers has been a freelance writer, specializing in health, education, business and parenting topics for more than a decade and a copy editor since 2008. Meyers has written Web and print copy for hundreds of businesses, including many Fortune 500 companies. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Maryland and is studying for a bachelor's degree in psychology.

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