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Getting tax deductions from your job search

Gerri Willis tackles reader questions tax deductions for job searched, U.S. savings bonds and appraising memorabilia.

By Gerri Willis, CNN

NEW YORK ( -- Question 1: I plan to travel to a professional job fair in Washington, DC next month and interview with potential employers. Can I deduct the travel and conference expenses? - Patrick

Answer: Yes. But there are conditions. The jobs you're interviewing for must be in the same field as you've held. For example, you can't be a lawyer trying to become a chef.

You have to use the same skill set, according to Donna LeValley of J.K. Lasser.

Your expenses while job-hunting must exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. Don't forget to keep your own records, like a list of the attendees or your registration.

You can also deduct miscellaneous items from your taxes, like stamps or newspaper subscriptions. There are some exceptions. If you've just graduated from college, you can't deduct job-hunting expenses.

Question 2: Are U.S. bonds still a good investment vehicle? - Michael, Illinois

Answer: Savings bonds can be a good investment if you're really afraid of taking risks in the market.

Bonds are backed by the credit of the government, and it's one of the safest investment vehicles out there.

The interest rate you'll get on a U.S. Savings Bond is low - right now it's 3.4 percent.

Just think, with just a little more risk you can get rates of 5 percent or higher on a money market fund, a certificate of deposit (CD) or an online savings account.

To find out more about how to invest in bonds and what your interest rate may be, check out

Question 3: I received some souvenirs from President Nixon during his stay in office. I'm not sure where to go to get an appraisal. I'm seeking some direction on getting a value for these items. - Charles

Answer: Go online and check out some of those online auctions, like eBay. This way you'll get a sense of what the value could be. You may want to scan the local newspapers to see if there are any "free appraisal days" in your area.

Here are other resources if you want to hire a professional appraisal: The National Association of Professional Appraisals or the Appraisers Association of America.

In the meantime, remember to keep your collectibles in good condition. An item in mint condition is going to be worth a whole lot more than something that shows its age.  Top of page

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