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Can I deduct airport parking fees, tolls, crashpad expenses?

Article ID: 17
Last updated: 16 Oct, 2012
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By Jason Watson ()

The short answer is No. These expenses including mileage are considered commuting expenses, and therefore are not deductible. We agree that airport parking fees and crashpads are common, and nearly impossible to avoid if you commute to your flight crew position. However, the IRS will typically label your domicile as your tax home, and those expenses traveling to your place of work within your tax home are not deductible.

If you had a job at Starbuck’s at a downtown location, you would not be able to deduct tolls, parking or subway transportation. These are considered commuting expenses. Sorry. If you still are not convinced, here is a snippet from Tax Court Opinion 2010-127:

The dispute between the parties reduces to their disagreement regarding the location of petitioner’s tax home during the years in issue. According to petitioners, petitioner’s tax home was defined by the location of their residence in Tennessee, and traveling expenses incurred in connection with traveling to, or remaining in, Sterling are deductible under section 162(a)(2). According to respondent, petitioner’s tax home was Sterling, and expenses incurred to travel there and any expenses incurred for meals, lodging, and vehicle expenses while present in Sterling are not deductible because the expenses are personal in nature. For the following reasons, we agree with respondent.

Generally, a taxpayer’s tax home is determined by the location of the taxpayer’s regular or principal (if more than one regular) place of business. Mitchell v. Commissioner, supra at 581; Kroll v. Commissioner, supra at 561-562; cf. sec. 1.911- 2(b), Income Tax Regs.

As an airline employee, petitioner was based at Dulles during each year in issue and his flight assignments began and ended there. It follows that Dulles was petitioner’s regular or principal place of business, and Sterling was his tax home during those years. Consequently, expenses for meals and lodging incurred in Sterling may not be deducted under section 162(a) because those expenses were not incurred while petitioner was away from home. Furthermore, because a taxpayer’s cost of commuting between the taxpayer’s personal residence and place of employment, no matter how far, is a nondeductible personal expense, Commissioner v. Flowers, supra at 473-474; secs. 1.162-2(e), 1.262-1(b)(5), Income Tax Regs., petitioner is not entitled to a deduction for amounts incurred to travel between petitioner’s residence in Tennessee and Sterling, or for vehicle expenses incurred while in Sterling.

The long answer is Perhaps. If your domicile is COS, but you drive to DEN for a training event, the airport parking fees and tolls, for example, would be deductible expenses. Another example is a temporary duty assignment (TDY)- if an assignment is temporary (under one year), and the term is not indefinite you may deduct those expenses associated with traveling to work. In the eyes of the IRS, a term that is not defined (indefinite) is considered the same as permanent. Attempting to deduct commuting expenses under the auspice of a TDY will hinge on the length of the temporary assignment.

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