TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Non-Deductibility of Expenses of Getting a J.D. Degree

Philip Rukosuev, The Non-Deductibility of Juris Doctorate Degree Expenses Under Treasury Regulation 1.162-5, Ill Bus. L.J. (2013):

[I]n cases where concrete educational and examination requirements to become legally eligible to practice in a field must be met, the courts apply an objective approach to determine the deductibility of such expenses. The facts and circumstances of each case are not considered, rather, courts simply disallow a deduction exclusively because the education objectively qualifies the taxpayer in a new trade or business. Thus, the expense of obtaining a JD degree is never deductible under the present-day regulation since an individual may only practice in the legal profession by obtaining the compulsory education and passing the requisite bar examination.

(Hat Tip: José Gabilondo.)

Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink


Professor Rukosuev is incorrect. J.D. tuition dollars are deductible, but only if you itemize and complete Form 4684, subject to the 10 percent threshold.

(Ha! Casualty and theft losses, get it? Tax and scamblog humor.)

Posted by: Modest Proposal | Feb 18, 2014 12:17:04 PM

In contrast, getting a LLM after you have the JD is deductible, since you are not entering a new field, but getting additional credentials for your current field.

Posted by: Robert Gould | Feb 19, 2014 5:56:48 AM

And how is this different from business start-up expenses that can be amortized?

Posted by: Bob Kamman | Feb 19, 2014 11:03:07 AM

Maybe someone who qualifies for the NY bar by undergoing one year of law school then four years of apprenticeship could later deduct tuition for completing the JD after bar admission? Would it matter whether they complete the JD within the 7-year window specified the ABA or beyond it? What if they start the degree all over again, after the 7-year window, to have a more transferable credential across states?

Posted by: Jimmy Kaplowitz | Feb 22, 2014 6:23:21 PM