USA Conference travel for student


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I'm an international PhD student in the United States, and I'm trying to figure out what deductions might be available to me. I receive a reasonable stipend (subject only to federal taxation, not city or state) and pay no tuition.

My by far largest expense in the past year has been conference travel, which has not all been reimbursed. However, I'm not sure if I can deduct it as a business expense. It's certainly contributing toward my career and it is expected of me to attend professional conferences, but I am not currently on the job market. I've spent in total about 25% of my taxable income on conference travel, so being able to make a deduction here would provide me with significant tax savings.

If not as a business expense, could it be deducted as an educational expense? Assuming that is even available to non-resident aliens. (If so, I think I spent more than 2% of my income on textbooks from Amazon, for which I should have receipts. Although not the topic of the thread, maybe I can deduct that as well?)

If I can deduct conference travel from my taxes, I was also wondering if there is any flexibility as to what year I make the deduction in. For example, let's say I made travel arrangements in November of 2011 for a conference in January, 2012. I paid the flight and conference registration immediately (in 2011), but hotel charges not until the next calender year (2012).

Can I deduct the entire expense on my taxes for 2012? Or would I have to deduct the flight and registration fee on my 2011 taxes and the remainder the following year? I understand that, of course, I cannot deduct the expenses twice... but it'd make accounting a lot easier if the former were allowed.

Many thanks in advance for your help! :)
 
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kirby

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If you do not now have a business or are not now employed, then you do not have an allowable business travel deduction. And the deduction for education requires that you have a business or are employed. Sorry.....
 
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Thanks very much for your quick reply!

I do some "work" for my stipend - I'm employed as a research assistant. But maybe that does not count? I believe the university codes it as being a requirement for the degree so that it is not subject to state/city taxation.

I was a part-time employee for another university last year (and I was not enrolled as a student) - however, not during the months of the conference travel.

Would that change anything with respect to allowable deductions?
 
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