9

I am a software engineer and I find myself more productive and less fatigued with certain equipment: a mechanical keyboard, an IPS monitor and noise-cancelling headphones.

My employer does not require me to purchase these but I purchased them for my own work-only use. I purchased them in the current tax year and they are used 100% at my office.

Can I deduct them?

2

No, you cannot. You can only deduct expenses that the employer required from you, are used solely for the employer's (not your!) benefit, you were not reimbursed for them and they're above the 2% AGI threshold. And that - only if you're itemizing your deductions.

  • 5
    I don't think required is the right standard. IRS Pub. 529 says you can deduct expenses that are "ordinary and necessary", and that "An expense is ordinary if it is common and accepted in your trade, business, or profession. An expense is necessary if it is appropriate and helpful to your business. An expense does not have to be required to be considered necessary." – Nate Eldredge Sep 19 '14 at 3:39
  • 1
    @NateEldredge necessary = required. If you cannot work without something - it is required of you to have it. Because it is necessary. Generally, IRS audits these expenses at much higher standard that business expenses of self-employed. I find it hard to believe that the OP's employer doesn't provide him a keyboard, "I find myself more productive" doesn't show necessity, and I doubt noise-cancelling headphones are anywhere near ordinary. – littleadv Sep 19 '14 at 4:06
  • While it is quite common for developers to have their own keyboards and headphones I don't know if they would pass muster with the IRS guidelines. – Matthew Sep 19 '14 at 17:29
  • 2
    @littleadv The IRS very specifically states "an expense does not have to be required to be considered necessary" in Nate's link. – user253751 Apr 27 '17 at 7:04
  • @littleadv do you mean the IRS has made a mistake in their wording? – Mindwin Apr 27 '17 at 16:17
5

Old question, but in the comments of the accepted answer, I believe Nate Eldredge is correct and littleadv is incorrect. Nate copied the actual quote from the IRS guidelines, quoted below:

An expense is ordinary if it is common and accepted in your trade, business, or profession. An expense is necessary if it is appropriate and helpful to your business. An expense doesn't have to be required to be considered necessary.

Noise cancelling headphones certainly count as "appropriate and helpful to your business" in the software industry, especially with the trend of open office layouts. And because of the ubiquitous distractions inherent in the aforementioned office space, noise cancelling headphones are becoming quite "common and accepted" for use by developers.

I'd be more hesitant about the keyboard and monitor, as presumably the employer is providing those already. As using your own could be said to just be a personal preference over those provided, the argument that providing your own version is "appropriate and helpful" is a little more shaky.

I am not a tax lawyer, so don't come after me if you get audited, but my guess from reading the actual IRS guidelines is noise cancelling headphones: probably, keyboard and monitor: maybe.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.