Can You Deduct Tax Penalties?

Many federal, state, and local government taxes are not deductible because they do not fall within the categories discussed earlier. Other taxes and fees, such as federal income taxes, are not deductible because the tax law specifically prohibits a deduction for them. See Table 22-1.

Taxes and fees that are generally not deductible include the following items.

  • Employment taxes. This includes social security, Medicare, and railroad retirement taxes withheld from your pay. However, you can take a deduction in 2011 for the deductible part of self-employment tax. See the instructions for Schedule SE (Form 1040) for details. In addition, the social security and other employment taxes you pay on the wages of a household worker may be included in medical expenses that you can deduct or child care expenses that allow you to claim the child and dependent care credit.
  • Estate, inheritance, legacy, or succession taxes. However, you can deduct the estate tax attributable to income in respect of a decedent if you, as a beneficiary, must include that income in your gross income. In that case, deduct the estate tax as a miscellaneous deduction that is not subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit. For more information, see Publication 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators.
  • Federal income taxes. This includes income taxes withheld from your pay.
  • Fines and penalties. You cannot deduct fines and penalties paid to a government for violation of any law, including related amounts forfeited as collateral deposits.
  • Gift taxes.
  • License fees. You cannot deduct license fees for personal purposes (such as marriage, driver’s, and dog license fees).
  • Per capita taxes. You cannot deduct state or local per capita taxes.