Deducting Subscriptions

Find out all the ways subscriptions may be deductible.

Subscriptions to magazines, newspapers, journals, newsletters, and similar publications can be a deductible expense. This includes Internet-based subscriptions for websites. Subscriptions can be deducted in various ways, depending on your purpose for the subscription.

Business Expense

If you own a business, subscriptions to professional, technical, and trade journals that deal with the business are deductible as a business expense. Make sure the subscription is related to your business. This is a matter of common sense. For example, an accountant could deduct the cost of subscribing to the CPA Journal, but not to a daily newspaper or general interest magazine. On the other hand, a freelance journalist could deduct subscriptions to newspapers and magazines to which he or she has, or wishes to, sell articles.

Investment Expense

If you subscribe to investment newsletters or magazines, the cost is deductible as an investment expense. Many investment publications are quite expensive, so this can be a good deduction.

However, such expenses are deductible only as miscellaneous itemized deductions. This means that an investment subscription is deductible only if, and to the extent, it along with your other miscellaneous itemized deductions exceeds 2% of your adjusted gross income.

Employee Expense

If you work as an employee and you subscribe to publications useful for your work and your employer does not reimburse you for the cost, you may deduct the cost as an unreimbursed employee expense. As with investment expenses, these expenses are deductible only as miscellaneous itemized deductions, subject to the 2% of AGI floor.

Job Search Expense

If you're looking for a job and you subscribe to publications that aid you in your search, you may deduct the expense as a job search expense. These expenses are deductible only as miscellaneous itemized deductions, which means they are also subject to the 2% of AGI floor.

Hobby Expense

If you have a hobby for which you subscribe to a publication, the cost is deductible only against any income you earn from the hobby. For example, a painter who subscribes to an art publication can deduct the cost only from any money he or she makes from selling paintings.

Subscriptions Extending Over One Year

If you prepay for a subscription for more than one year, you must prorate the cost for each year. You can do this by determining what you pay per month for the subscription. For example, if you pay $240 for a two-year subscription that starts in July, you may deduct $10 per month over the life of the subscription. You would get a $60 deduction the first year, a $120 deduction the following year, and a $60 for the final six months of the subscription.


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