Attorney-at-Law

“SUMMER’S LEASE HATH ALL TOO SHORT A DATE”

In Uncategorized on 02/03/2014 at 16:43

Top Ten claimant among the Bard’s most famous sonnets (no. 18) gives me the segue into today’s small-claimer from the word processor of Judge Daniel A. (“Yuda”) Guy, Roj Carl Snellman and Patricia Snellman, 2014 T. C. Sum. Op. 10, filed 2/3/14.

Roj was employed away from home for part of the year at issue, but was he indefinite or temporary? And that, as another poet has said, made all the difference. Roj, living with wife and children in Florida, was employed for a single-shot project by an outfit called U. S. Fidelis, Inc., headquartered in Missouri, whence Roj was required to hie himself to work. While he was told he had an annual salary, he was hired in May for a term to end no later than December 31.

Well, rough winds did shake the darling buds of May, and Roj got canned November 2.

Roj claims he stayed in a local hotel from May 25 to June 10, but can produce neither credit card slip nor hotel bill. But from June 10 until he was discharged on November 2, he leased an apartment. And he negotiated an “early-out” clause in the lease, “which stated that if he lost his job with Fidelis and provided the landlord with 30 days’ written notice, he would be permitted to terminate the lease without having to pay a ‘lease break fee’”. 2014 T. C. Sum. Op. 10, at p. 4. So even though the lease term was through 12/31, Roj could walk sooner for free.

Judge Yuda: “Section 162(a)(2) allows a taxpayer to deduct travel expenses, including expenditures for meals and lodging, if the expenses are reasonable and necessary, incurred ‘while away from home’, and made in pursuit of a trade or business. Although the term ‘home’ (or ‘tax home’) in section 162(a)(2) normally means a taxpayer’s principal place of employment (and not the taxpayer’s personal residence), an exception to this rule arises when a taxpayer accepts employment away from his or her personal residence and the employment is temporary rather than indefinite. The purpose underlying this exception is to relieve the taxpayer of the burden of duplicate living expenses while at a temporary employment location, since it would be unreasonable to expect him to move his residence under such circumstances.” 2014 T. C. Sum. Op. 10, at p. 9 (Citations omitted).

See my blogpost “Home Is Where The Heart Is”, 7/21/11.

Temporary employment may cross the line and become indefinite employment “if it is expected to last for a substantial, indefinite, or indeterminate duration or due to changed circumstances or the passage of time.” 2014 T. C. Sum. Op. 10, at p. 10 (Citation omitted).

It’s time to march to Sir Eddie Elgar’s unwritten masterpiece, facts and circumstances. Well, Roj was temporary, as both the short term of his lease and the time he was engaged to work show, so he gets his lease rent, and some of his car mileage and meal expenses (using Fed standards for both), but loses out on his car log (concocted after the fact) and unsubstantiateds.

Still, if you’re temporary, make sure your employment terms, and your lease, summer or winter, “hath all too short a date”.

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