Bill Gates reads hundreds of books a year, most, if not all of which are books that directly help him with his work. In his case, it probably doesn't matter, but for the rest of us, buying hundreds of books a year is not easy.

Assuming the books being purchased are honestly intended to help you at work, could one write them off as business expenses or education related?

  • 2
    Are you self-employed or an employee?
    – Hart CO
    Oct 29 '19 at 14:21
  • 6
    One of the easiest way to save on hundreds of books is to use library. Oct 29 '19 at 14:23
  • I'm an employee. Company reimburses for a lot of books, but I'm wondering what all I can do for myself. Oct 29 '19 at 14:24
  • I also visit my county library network, but they're not as up-to-date as Barnes and Noble Oct 29 '19 at 14:24
  • 1
    @SZCZERZO KŁY: Typical public libraries, at least in my experience, don't usually have the sort of technical books that would be useful at work.
    – jamesqf
    Oct 29 '19 at 17:46

Assuming you are in the US, based on some things you have said.

If you were self-employed, then expensing books related to your business is a no-brainer and would not cause you any problems with the IRS.

As an employee, before 2018 you could deduct "unreimbursed employee expenses" as long as they were normal and "necessary" subject to a few restrictions. I suspect the IRS would not argue with you about whether textbooks related to your job qualify.

However, this is one of the deductions that is gone (due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act). Going forward you will not be able to deduct unreimbursed employee expenses. The exception is K-12 teachers (up to $250), certain military and government employees, certain performing artists, and expenses related to a handicap. So that's a no on your books. Sorry.

IRS Guidance

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