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Need a job? Try the IRS

Times are tough and likely to get tougher for many folks. But there is a ray of hope for some job seekers: the IRS.

"Benjamin Franklin said that nothing in this world is certain except death and taxes. When death is not an option and the world is maximizing the uncertainty, taxes look like an intriguing career alternative," writes New York Times reporter James Barron.

In his article "In Bleak Times, the I.R.S. Looks Good," Barron reports on a job fair this week at the federal office building in Manhattan:

"An hour before the fair was scheduled to begin, the crowd began lining up — recently laid-off Wall Street types in charcoal-gray pinstripe suits and trench coats; less formally dressed people; a woman with a new accounting degree on her résumé and a 14-month-old baby in a stroller."

OK, the kid wasn't there for a job, but work-life balance apparently was one of the pitches made to encourage people to become IRS employees.

It's not just in New York that the IRS is seeking new personnel. As the postcard below, sent to Austin-area residents, indicates, my local IRS office is looking for seasonal employees.

IRS jobs postcard-a

Such solicitations aren't new. A couple of years ago, I blogged about the IRS' local recruiting effort.

Working for the IRS might not be your dream job. And it might not be one you want to talk about at social gatherings. But for some folks, it could be a welcome employment option.

And it certainly works out well for Uncle Sam, who's assured of getting back a chunk of your paycheck.

Tax_tip_icon_pencil_point Today's Tax Tip: If you're looking for new work, keep track (and associated receipts) of your job-hunting expenses. They could pay off as deductions at tax time.

Of course, there are a couple of strings attached.

First, your job search must be for work in the same field. The IRS isn't going to subsidize your career change.

I know, that standard doesn't seem quite right, especially in this economy. With so many jobs having been eliminated in various sectors (cough, cough, banking, cough), there are only so many openings to go around. Maybe if we all point this out to the IRS and our members of Congress, that rule might eventually be changed.

But for now, deductible expenses must be incurred while searching for a job in the same area.

Also, you have to itemize. Even then, you might not have enough job search expenses to deduct.

These costs are reported as part of the miscellaneous expenses section of Schedule A. You can only deduct the amount of these expenses that are greater than 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.

That means if you have an AGI of $30,000, your miscellaneous expenses must be more than $600. And only that amount in excess of $600 counts.

If, in this case, your miscellaneous expenses come to $599, you're out of deduction luck. If they come to $605, you can only deduction $5.

The good thing here is that there are lots of other miscellaneous items you might be able to add so that you get a decent deductible amount. Things like subscriptions to professional journals and training seminars you paid for at your previous job.

This story has more deductible job-hunting expenses. And this one has details on general miscellaneous deductions.


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Denesia-Need a graduate job

I wouldn't mind working with the IRS but it is so discouraging when you think about wages and opportunities for advancement within government sectors. In my graduate career search, I am trying to find that first job that will be a ladder. In your experience, how challenging is it to advance within government sectors?


Hopefully many people will heed your advise and apply for a job at the IRS. More employees at the IRS means shorter hold times for those of us that spend our days calling the IRS and waiting on hold for up to an hour before someone finally picks up.

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