If you own a business, the dues you pay to professional, business, and civic organizations are deductible business expenses as long as the organization’s main purpose is not to provide entertainment facilities to members. This includes dues paid to:
- bar associations, medical associations, and other professional organizations
- trade associations, local chambers of commerce, real estate boards, and business leagues, and
- civic or public service organizations, such as a Rotary or Lions club.
IRS regulations specifically list the Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, and Civitan clubs as civic or public services organizations. Other organizations can qualify as well so long as their principal purpose is to help communities rather than providing their members with entertainment.
You get no deduction for dues you pay to belong to other types of social, business, or recreational clubs—for example, country clubs, athletic clubs, airline clubs, hotel clubs, and clubs organized to provide meals to members.
It’s best not to use the word “dues” on your tax return, because the IRS may question the expense. Use other words to describe the deduction—for example, if you’re deducting membership dues for a trade organization, list the expense as “trade association membership fees.”
You may also deduct as a business expense subscriptions to professional, technical, and trade journals that deal with your business field. For example, a waste management expert could deduct a subscription to the Waste Management Magazine.