BLOG: What to do with your tax return? Invest in your career!

January 22, 2015 - 11:41
Author Name: 
UNLV Ed Outreach

The arrival of the first W2 near the end of January symbolizes the start of tax season at my house. We get out a fresh file folder and begin to assemble forms, receipts, and other documentation.

I love the instant gratification of self-service tax preparation software. Within minutes we can have a sense of whether we owe taxes or if we will get a return.

Sometimes, the news is not great and we bust out our checkbook. On these years we wait until the bitter end to fork money over.

By contrast, if calculations confirm we’re getting a tax return, we happily file early and eagerly await the transfer into our bank account. The obvious next step is to start dreaming about how we’ll spend this unplanned windfall…

We could treat ourselves to items we want but really don’t need. While fun for the short term, I’m afraid this course of action doesn't do us any long term financial good.

But line 21 of my 1040 Schedule A has me thinking of another option for spending a refund: investing in work training! According to the IRS, if I itemize my deductions, training to enhance my current career may be tax deductible! I’m thinking this is a positive financial double-whammy. As my skills improve, so will my value to my employer. Then, on my 2015 taxes, I can write off fees, books, and possibly even mileage and travel expenses.

And now for a shameless plug: did you know UNLV Continuing Education offers more than 25 professional development programs to help you enhance your career skills? How about using your tax return to boost your career in one of the well-performing sectors of the Las Vegas economy, like hospitality, transportation, health, and professional and business services? If you meet all the IRS's criteria, you may even be able to deduct your professional training expenses next year!