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Home is where the job is

July 29, 2009

The tax law doesn't allow you to deduct your communting expenses. You can only deduct business travel if it is "away from home."

A barge crewman living in Florida learned yesterday that your "home" is where you work, as far as the IRS is concerned. Jess Canterbury worked on barges working out of New York serving ports along the east coast. He deducted his travel expenses from his Jacksonville, Florida on his tax reuturn. The Tax Court said that doesn't work:

Petitioner testified at trial that he took the job with Reinauer because he received more pay for less work. Indeed, he earned twice as much working as a barge mate in New York compared with working in Jacksonville; moreover, following a 2-week work period, petitioner received 2 weeks off rather than only 1 week. Petitioner's daughter also lived in Jacksonville. The rate of pay, the time off, and the proximity to his daughter suggest that it was personal choice and not business exigencies that dictated the decision by petitioner to maintain his residence in Jacksonville and commute to New York.

Consequently, because petitioner's position with Reinauer lasted more than 1 year, and further because most of his assignments originated in New York, his principal place of employment, and therefore his tax home, was in New York for the relevant period.

The Moral? You may not live at work, but as far as the tax law is concerned, your home is where your job is.

Cite: Canterbury, T.C. Summ. Op. 2009-118

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