As a plumber, you are responsible for reporting your income to the IRS, and paying any applicable income tax. If you work for another company, you will receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from your employer. However, you may work for yourself, doing odd plumbing jobs or even as your own business. In these cases, the IRS considers you to be self-employed, and you may receive a Form 1099-MISC from anyone you provide service to. Self-employed taxpayers with a net income greater than $400 need to pay self-employment tax on a Schedule C. Its possible estimated tax payments may be required to cover the tax amount reported on Schedule C.
If you claim deductions for unreimbursed job expenses, you will have a lower tax liability. Many of these deductions can be claimed on Schedule A as miscellaneous itemized deductions. As with all deductions you claim at tax time, you should ensure you have significant documentation to back up your expenses. You can deduct a variety of costs you may have incurred, as long as they are directly related to plumbing and are not reimbursed by any third party. This can include:
- Union dues or trade association fees
- Insurance costs for liability protection
- Fees for trade publications and journals
- Any equipment specialized to the trade and replaceable within a year
- Certain safety equipment like steel-toed shoes
- The cost of maintaining, purchasing, and cleaning uniforms, provided they are unsuitable for everyday wear
- Any licensing charges, as long as it’s not assessed for initial certification
If work has been hard to come by, you can deduct job hunting expenses as long as you continue to look for plumbing specific jobs. If you do other work while unemployed, it doesn’t automatically disqualify you from deducting job search expenses.
Educational courses can be deducted as long as the classes meet certain requirements. Refresher courses, vocational classes, and those necessary to understand new developments are generally covered, although classes that qualify you for a new position or trade are generally not deductible.
Self-employed plumbers may be able to deduct additional expenses via a Schedule C. These are:
- Bad business debts
- Car or truck expenses to drive from site to site
- Legal fees or accounting charges related directly to the plumbing business
- Rental costs for certain items, such as storage trailers
- Certain traveling expenses, provided they meet the standard qualifications for deducting business trips
- Advertising costs
- Repairs and maintenance on equipment
- Necessary supplies
- Personal property or excise taxes