When to Deduct Travel Expenses for Temporary Job Assignments

by | Jul 23, 2016 | Toby Talks Tax | 0 comments

When I hear the phrase “wind whipping,” my tongue flops out, and I start panting.  “What is wind-whipping?” you may ask.  It’s the national sport of dogs, is all. Here’s how I do it:  on a warm day, I go road-tripping.  I beg my master to roll down that car window to my right, and I stick my head straight out.  (Warning:  If you try it, think safety first.  Make sure there’s no oncoming traffic, and you’re secure enough not to fall out!)  Then I bark at my chauffeur to drive fast, and I revel in that rush of brisk air pressing my ears backwards and whipping my luxurious coat into a thousand tiny hair knots.

Imagine my surprise when I recently discovered that I can sometimes enjoy tax deductions at the same time I’m wind-whipping.  When?  When I’m traveling to a temporary job assignment.

Uncle Sam defines a temporary job assignment as one that requires me to travel under the following circumstances:

  • To do the temporary assignment, I must leave my general urban area, such as the Anchorage Municipality (which Uncle Sam refers to as my “tax home”), of my dog house (my physical address, or my “family home”);
  • The temporary job assignment is at a location that I don’t typically commute to for work;
  • I will be working away from the tax home for a period of time expected to last much longer than a usual day’s work, but less than a year; and
  • While away from my home, I will need to catch some puppy zzzz’s overnight, every night, in order to perform my job well enough to meet my master’s exacting standards.

When I meet those standards, here’s what I can deduct:

  • Travel expense, including plane, train, bus, or car costs from my family home to the temporary job assignment;
  • Use of my vehicle during the temporary assignment;
  • Cab fare from work place to work place while on the new assignment;
  • Meals and lodging, including tips;
  • Drycleaning and laundry;
  • Business calls, including faxes;
  • Shipping of baggage and work-related equipment and materials; and
  • Miscellaneous work-related fees, such as rental for office equipment and internet expense.

I can also deduct the expense of travel to my comfy dog house on the weekends, up to the amount it would have cost me to stay at the temporary job site.

Naturally Uncle Sam barks loudly about certain conditions when it comes to temporary work assignment deductions, so my habit is to yap at the Boss before declaring them on my tax return.  If you have questions about the deductions, yelp at us at Law Offices of Christy Lee, P.C.  We’re happy to shake your paw and woof with you about proactive ways to lower your tax liability.


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