Learn about employee business expenses

You may deduct trade, business, and certain other business expenses. Learn more.

Please note beginning in the 2018 tax year, miscellaneous itemized deductions that are subject to the 2% adjusted gross income limitation are suspended. Deductions that are suspended include expenses:

  • For travel, meals, and lodging while away from home, or expenses for transportation paid or incurred by the taxpayer in connection with the performance of services as an employee; or
  • That are attributable to a trade or business carried on by the taxpayer, if such trade or business consists of the performance of services by the taxpayer as an employee are no longer allowed as federal deductions

General Rules and Qualifications

For federal purposes prior to 2018, taxpayers my be allowed to deduct trade, business, and certain other expenses as allowed under IRC (Code) Section 162, namely expenses that exceed 2% of federal AGI.

Massachusetts uses this as a starting point for calculating its own deduction.

The Massachusetts deduction is limited to the deductions allowed by Part VI of the Internal Revenue Code which:

  • For an employee, include unreimbursed expenses of travel, meals, and lodging while away from the tax home over a sleep period or expenses of transportation paid or incurred by the employee in connection with the performance of services as an employee
  • For a salesperson, are federally deductible unreimbursed employee expenses if they are attributable to a trade or business in which the employee is a salesperson who solicits business for an employer away from the employer's place of business

50% of qualified business meals and entertainment expenses may be claimed as a deduction. This limited deduction is also subject to the Massachusetts restriction that the business meal expenses and entertainment must be incurred while away from tax home.

To qualify for the Massachusetts employee business expense deduction, the following 3 conditions must be met:
  1. The taxpayer must itemize deductions on the federal return
  2. If filing a joint U.S. return, a joint return must be filed in Massachusetts; and
  3. Unreimbursed business expenses combined with the other miscellaneous itemized deductions (reported on U.S. Form 1040, Schedule A*) must exceed 2% of the federal adjusted gross income reported on U.S. Form 1040, Schedule A*

* Prior to 2018

Please note: Unreimbursed travel and transportation expenses of a handicapped employee which are also impairment related business expenses are not subject to the 2% floor.

Unreimbursed expenses in item 3 above are limited to:
  • Travel and transportation expenses for work
  • Expenses for lodging and meals that are incurred on overnight business travel
  • Transportation from a first job to a second job
  • Job-seeking expenses if travel related and only if incurred seeking employment in the same field
  • Expenses of a qualified performing artist as defined under the Code
  • Impairment-related expenses of a handicapped person
  • Operating expenses  incurred for automobiles used in a trade or business such as:
    • Expenses for gasoline
    • Oil
    • Tires
    • Repairs
    • Insurance
    • Depreciation
    • Parking fees and tolls
    • Licenses
    • Garage rent
    • Travel/transportation cost necessary for allowable education expenses

Outside salespeople may claim other unreimbursed expenses in addition to the items listed above. An outside salesperson may also claim non-travel expenses such as an office in:

  • The home
  • A home computer
  • Telephone expenses
  • Non-travel meals

Massachusetts adopts the federal treatment for Employee Business expenses, under the Code, as amended and in effect on January 1, 2005, and automatically adopts any future changes to the Federal provisions for these expenses.

Qualification for Employee Business Expenses Deduction is determined by completing the following worksheets:

  • For residents, the Schedule Y, Line 1* - Massachusetts Employee Business Expense Deduction Worksheet;
  • For nonresidents and part-year residents, the Schedule Y, Line 1* - Massachusetts Employee Business Expense Deduction Worksheet

* Prior to 2018

The amount to be reported on this worksheet is for only those expenses that are directly related to taxable income reported on Form 1 NR/PY.

No Tax Status and Limited Income Credit Calculation

This deduction impacts the calculation of No Tax Status and the Limited Income Credit as it is treated as an adjustment to arrive at Massachusetts adjusted gross income on the Massachusetts AGI Worksheet and Schedule NTS-L-NR/PY.

Disallowance of Travel, Meals, and Entertainment Expenses

Travel expenses can’t be claimed as business deductions for a spouse, dependent or other individual who accompanies the taxpayer on a business trip unless the following 3 conditions are met:

  1. Such person is an employee of the person who is paying for such expenses
  2. The travel of such person serves a bona fide business purpose
  3. The expenses of such person are otherwise deductible

Reporting Expenses on Your Original Tax Return - Prior to 2018

Residents must complete the Schedule Y, Line 1* - Massachusetts Employee Business Expense Deduction Worksheet, Form 1 Instructions.

  • If qualified, enter the amount from Line 8* of the worksheet on Form 1, Schedule Y, Line 1*

Nonresidents and part-year residents must complete the Schedule Y, Line 1* - Massachusetts Employee Business Expense Deduction Worksheet, Form 1-NR/PY Instructions.

  • The amount to be reported on this worksheet is for only those expenses that are directly related to taxable income reported on Form 1 NR/PY. If qualified, enter the amount from Line 8* of the worksheet on Form 1-NR/PY, Schedule Y, Line 1*

* Prior to 2018

Submitting an Abatement or Amended Tax Return

If you're submitting an abatement or amended return fo ra tax year prior to 2018, you'll need to include the following:

  • Copy of U.S. Form 2106 - Employee Business Expenses, or U.S. Form 2106 EZ* - Unreimbursed Employee Business Expenses with U.S. 1040, Schedule A* if the deduction was taken federally
  • Amended U.S. Form 2106 or 2106 EZ* with U.S. 1040, Schedule A* if the deduction was not taken federally
  • Massachusetts Form 1* or 1-NR/PY, Schedule Y, Line 1* - Employee Business Expense Deduction Worksheet

* Prior to 2018

Additional Resources

Massachusetts References

Federal References

  • I.R.C. §§ 62(a)(2); 162(p); 274(m), (n)
  • Military Family Relief Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-121)

 

Page updated: April 22, 2020

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