- He was a motor hand on an oil rig, meaning that he took care of the motors on the rig.
- The uncertainty of his job made it unreasonable to relocate the family.
- Which meant that he had to travel for work.
- The Code allows a taxpayer to deduct ordinary and necessary expenses, including traveling expenses while away from home.
- Which means that one has to determine the location of the taxpayer's home.
- Which is not what you would immediately think. The Code considers your tax home to be where you work, not where you live. For most of us, that is one and the same, but that was not the case for Collodi. He lived in northern California but worked in southern California.
COMMENT: It is odd to think of one's tax home that way, but it makes more sense if you consider that the term "home" is being used in an income-tax context. If one's purpose to tax your income, then it makes sense that “home” would be redefined to where you earn that income.
- Collodi immediately had a problem, as his work-home was in southern - not northern - California. He cannot be away from home under this definition.
- But there is an exception: if you can expect to start and end that out-of-town job in a year or less, the IRS will consider you to be temporarily away from your home, now defined to mean where your wife and kids are. That would cover, for example, the consultant constantly on the road.
- The flip side is that - if you expect to be there more than a year - then you are hosed. You are considered "indefinitely" away from home, meaning your tax home moved with you and there are no travel deductions.
OBSERVATION: The professional should have known better, though. While not said, I wonder whether he/she drew a preparer penalty.