The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) eliminated a host of miscellaneous itemized deductions through 2025, including a deduction for job-related education expenses pursuant to Code Section 162. Simple enough.
Except that many employer-provided education benefits are directly tied to the employee’s right to claim a deduction under Section 162. These include tax-free employer payments and reimbursements for college courses and continuing education, as well as an employer’s in-kind provision of such education. If no individual deduction is available for such expenses under Section 162, can the employer still provide, pay for, or reimburse employees for education without it being taxable to the employee?
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892) was signed into law on Feb. 9, 2018. The Budget Act makes several changes to retirement plan rules, both now and in the near future.
Current rule changes
Section 20102: California Wildfire Disaster Victims: Distributions of up to $100,000 from an eligible retirement plan (e.g., a qualified plan, 403(b) plan or 457(b) plan) are allowed on or after Oct. 8, 2017, and before Jan. 1, 2019, without being subject to a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. This rule applies to individuals who sustained losses to a home in a California wildfire disaster area (see below). The home must have been a person’s “principal place of abode” at some time between Oct. 8, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2017. These distributions may be repaid to the eligible retirement plan at any time within three years and essentially treated as rollover contributions.