When is a main residence a tax home?
Taxpayers 1 and 2 Say: Travel expenses while away from home in pursuit of business are deductible.
Internal Revenue Service Says: Taxpayer either does not have a tax home or taxpayer’s home is in a different location than his main residence. The travel expenses are not deductible.
From Internal Revenue Code Section 162(a)(2): Allows a taxpayer to deduct traveling expenses, including amounts expended for meals and lodging, if such expenses are: (1) ordinary and necessary, (2) incurred while away from home, and (3) incurred in the pursuit of a trade or business.
From Daly v. Commissioner, 72 T.C. 190, 195 (1979), affd. 662 F.2d 253 (4th Cir. 1981): For purposes of section 162(a)(2) the word “home” generally means the vicinity of a taxpayer’s principal place of work or employment, not the taxpayer’s personal residence.
From Kroll v. Commissioner, 49 T.C. 557, 562 (1968): A taxpayer may be treated as having no principal place of work when the location of his work is always temporary.
From Hantzis v. Commissioner, 638 F.2d 248, 255 (1st Cir. 1981), revg. T.C. Memo. 1979-299: When a taxpayer has no principal place of work, and when the taxpayer maintains a personal residence or family home remote from his temporary jobsite, the taxpayer’s home may be treated as his tax home if: (1) the taxpayer incurs duplicate living expenses while traveling and maintaining the home; (2) the taxpayer has personal and historical connections to the home; and (3) the taxpayer has a business justification for maintaining the home.
THE CAUSE OF THE DISPUTE
You can deduct travel expenses when you temporarily work away from home, as long as the expenses are ordinary and necessary, and not for personal reasons.
Disputes arise because of questions about the definition of “home.” Under the “tax home doctrine”, home is the general area surrounding where you work, no matter where you maintain your family home. However, in some situations, when your work is temporary and you meet three criteria (see Hantzis above), your residence can also be your tax home.
This week, two cases dealt with the question of whether the taxpayer’s residence was also his tax home.
In Glover, the taxpayer, a union merchant marine, lived with his spouse in Missouri and worked on tugboats and barges for a company headquartered in New York. He regularly traveled to New York to work, and his pay began when the tug or barge left the local dock there. For the years at issue (2004 and 2005), he went on 23 voyages, 18 of which originated in New York. He says he does not have a regular place of employment because he works in the transportation industry performing jobs of temporary duration, so his residence is his tax home and the travel expenses are deductible.
The IRS says his tax home is New York, because that is where his main place of work is located, and the travel expenses are not deductible.
In Lyseng, the taxpayer, a union contract laborer, lived in Minnesota with his father and his fiancé. He regularly accepted temporary work assignments from his local union for maintenance jobs at nuclear power plants and other utility sites around the US (including Minnesota). The various utilities paid his wages. He says his living expenses were duplicated by his travel, and he received job assignments from his union in Minnesota. He believes his residence in Minnesota, where he lived since childhood, is his tax home and the travel expenses are deductible.
The IRS says he does not have a tax home because his work was always temporary, and the travel expenses are not deductible.
WHAT WOULD YOU DECIDE?
Make your selection, then see “The Court’s Decision” below for a full explanation
THE COURT’S DECISION
HL Carpenter, an experienced investor and a CPA, specializes in reader friendly articles on taxes and investing for individuals and small businesses, and publishes two newsletters: Taxing Lessons and Top Drawer Ink. Visit TaxingLessons.com and HLCarpenter.com.
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