No Deduction For Unreimbursed Business Expenses of Homeless Trucker.

The petitioner was a truck driver that spent 358 days on the road in 2009.  The company he worked for did not require him to return to base and told him where to go for his next trip after completing the current trip.  The petitioner used his mother's address to get his driver's license, but only stayed at her house rent-free while on jury duty and kept his personal effects in a storage locker.  The petitioner claimed over $27,000 as a deduction for unreimbursed employee business expenses, including over $19,000 for travel expenses while away from "home." The petitioner also claimed over $7,000 for truck stop "electrification" expenses (electricity provided by the truckstop so that the petitioner's truck didn't have to have its engine idle).  The court upheld the IRS denial of the per diem expenses and hotel expenses on the basis that the expenses were not incurred while away from home because the petitioner did not have a tax home.  To qualify as a tax home, the court noted that the petitioner needed to have incurred expenses associated with maintaining the home while away from it.  However the court allowed the deduction of expenses associated with truck stop electrification expenses.  Those expenses were deemed to be the functional equivalent of fuel expenses and were deductible subject to the two percent floor on itemized deductions.  The court, contrary to its own prior opinion in a different case, did not impose the negligence penalty because the petitioner had read IRS publications to determine how to handle the expenses and thus acted in good faith.  The court did uphold the substantial understatement of tax penalty.  Howard v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2015-38. 

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