to get back on track,
after talking to a few of the "older" guys at work this is how i'm approaching this:
i took out ALL LEAVES and official times from 2011(to include the 3 days for CFS) and came up with about 1668 hours(208 days) actually worked. Of that, i went with 40% swing shifts(+/- 83 days), 40% day shifts (+/- 83days) and 20% mid shifts.(+/- 43 days) that's that's the way my schedule rolls. I multiplied each by their respective lunch/dinner/breakfast rates for my locality and multiplied each by .80, added them, and came up with +/-$3,700. i used breakfast rates for the mids figuring that was the most logical way to do it in-case the IRS hassles me later down the line. I'm sure i could have gone with the dinner/lunch rate for all, but being my first time claiming this, i'm kinda sketchy about how it'll go over with the IRS. $3700 doesn't seem like it'll raise too many flags for the IRS. if it goes through, maybe i get more ballsy next year.
You can NOT file form 2106 and get a tax deduction. Go ahead and ask a tax pro yourself if you don't believe me. I asked two different tax pros at two different firms and both said no for the same reasons.
First being; You are not away from you "tax home" which is defined as; An individual's primary place of work or residence. This is used when determining tax for travel or transportation expenses.
Read more: Tax Home Definition | Investopedia
Secondly; "You are not exceeding your hours of service limits." While at work for 8 hours and going to taco bell for lunch...
Anyone who does file for it is flat out scamming the system.
If that's the case, who would ever qualify? How many CTOs ever leave their "tax home" when working in their tower? With very rare exceptions like temporary tower situations, it's not like we go moonlighting in other towers. That would be covered under normal travel meal rules anyway.
I don't think the deduction is intended as a travel deduction. Its in the same general area as travel deductions because most of the meal rules are based on travel conditions, with few exceptions - including this one. Remember the main rules: DOT hours of work limits, CTO, can be called back to work at any time. Sure sounds like a tower to me. Not sure about going beyond CTOs into other/all controllers.
I'm sure there are thousands of controllers that never get the chance to go to taco bell or anywhere else during their watch. That must be nice. By the way, the line is "Subject to the DOT hours of service limits..." not "Exceeding..."
Hardly a scam. After cutting 20% off the top, a very big chunk consisting of 2% of total gross pay is also subtracted. This isn't really a very big deduction at all. For comparison, the standard deduction will result in a bigger overall deduction for those that don't normally itemize.
Last edited by WatchThis; 01-23-2012 at 09:53 PM.
Just so we're all on the same page, here's an excerpt from the instructions on how to fill out the form that contains meals deductions:
Notice how it addresses "Business Meals... including meals away from home". That sure looks like two different things. In other words, deductable "Business Meals" aren't always "away from (tax) home". Further, regarding the DOT clause, it mentions "any period of duty for which those limitations are in effect". I believe this means that the tax home issue does not pertain for the DOT clause.Line 9. Generally, you can deduct only 50% of your business meal and entertainment expenses, including meals incurred while away from home on business. However, if you were an employee subject to the DOT hours of service limits, that percentage is increased to 80% for business meals consumed during, or incident to, any period of duty for which those limits are in effect.
Employees subject to the DOT hours of service limits include certain air transportation employees, such as pilots, crew, dispatchers, mechanics, and control tower operators; interstate truck operators and interstate bus drivers; certain railroad employees, such as engineers, conductors, train crews, dispatchers, and control operations personnel; and certain merchant mariners.
I'm not a tax lawyer, so believe at your own risk. If you take this deduction, be prepared to show proof of being on duty and the hours of work limitations better have been in effect.
I'll ask again, who would qualify as a person working a tower outside of their tax home that wouldn't be able to deduct unreimbursed meals "away from home" as a normal business expense anyway? I don't think this person or these people exist(s).
Last Edit: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p529.pdf page 7 discusses it even clearer and has the explanation in a section separate from travel expenses.
Last edited by WatchThis; 01-23-2012 at 09:30 PM.
My tax attorney Dr. S. Something Jewish, gives us the meal allowance.
This is my 1st year with him, but he's been doing coworkers taxes for years
I used it last year, I'll be using it again this year.
CPC @ ZAU
Also, many pilots and rail employees use this when try are subject to DOT hours and not necessarily away from their "tax home"
They have a whole website to help them... The only difference is that they have to claim their per diem (which is paid weather or not they are away from home) but still end up getting a couple extra grand from the deduction.
Expert Per Diem Calculation Service Pilots Flight Attendants
You can easily interpret this deduction in the incorrect way if you only read the specific sections that you think will give you the deduction. These people are not reading or interpreting it entirely or in its complete context. This deduction is specifically for travel expenses incurred away from your tax home, regardless of hours of service.. If you leave work on your break for lunch, you did not leave your tax home. This has been verified by my tax pro after a lengthy conversation.
What's the point in even doing this? Seriously. Take a lunch from home instead of buying lunch and then trying to deduct it. I can understand pilots and flight attendants doing this, but anyone who is an air traffic controller, should not be allowed to. Where you work is where you live 9 times out of 10, and if not, you don't live that far away.
and people wonder why our economy is the way it is or why our government is broke.
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