If you itemize deductions, you can deduct the amount of the dues you pay for union membership on your federal income tax return. Generally, your employer will withhold your union dues from your pay; therefore, your pay stubs provide proof that you paid your dues. However, there are certain costs you can't write off as union dues, even if the receipts you get from the organization lists them as dues.
Unreimbursed Employee Expenses
For an expense to qualify as an unreimbursed employee expense, you must incur or pay the expense during the tax year in which you are claiming the deduction. According to IRS guidelines, the expense must be an ordinary and necessary expense related to being an employee. Otherwise, you can't deduct it. Expenses common to your trade or profession -- including union dues -- are deductible.
Union dues are among the many types of expenses you can use to itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A. The IRS considers the dues you pay for membership in a union as an unreimbursed employee expense that falls under the category of miscellaneous itemized deductions. You must itemize deductions when you file your income tax return to deduct union dues as an allowable employee business expense.
Two Percent Limit
Before you can deduct any employee-related expenses on Schedule A, the total of all your itemized deductions must be more than the standard deduction. You can only claim the amount of your total miscellaneous itemized deductions that exceeds 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. To determine how much of your unreimbursed employee expenses and other miscellaneous deductions you can deduct, add them all up and subtract 2 percent of your adjusted gross income from the total. The result is what you report on Schedule A.
Nondeductible Union Expenses
You may not deduct any part of the contributions you make to a pension fund as an unreimbursed employee expense even if your union requires you to. You also can't deduct any part of the union dues you pay that goes toward sick, accident or death benefits that are paid out of union benefit funds. Nor can you deduct money you pay to the union to be used for lobbying or political activities. Any contribution that the union uses to campaign for new legislation, influence public opinion in regard to the law or participate in political campaigns is not deductible.
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