In Uncategorized on 12/21/2015 at 16:07

No, Tax Court doesn’t specialize in tear-jerkers, but Judge Gerber has a moving tale for us nonetheless. It’s the story of Matthew Thomas Parmeter, 2015 T. C. Sum. Op. 75, filed 12/21/15, as I prepare for the holiday jaunt to the Magnolia City to visit the kinfolks.

Matt is an Army information technology engineer, civilian type, who gets what we who once wore green called at that time a PCS (Permanent Change of Station). Unlike us, Matt’s moving costs were not picked up by Our Uncle in Washington. His fellow civilian schleppers, if I may so denominate the moving companies, wanted between $22K and $30K to haul Matt’s lares et penates the 182 miles from old home to new.

Echoing the famous 1962 commercial for a pain pill, Matt said he’d rather do it himself, and he did. He fired up his trusty pickup truck, hitched up a U-Haul or equivalent, and made 20 roundtrips between old and new, stashing goods in rented storage over two months. Matt also rented a hotel room for two nights, waiting for his new home to be ready.

Matt claimed a Section 217 deduction of $29,527, but claimed on the trial his software did it and he had no idea how that number wound up on his 1040. IRS, technophobic or not, disallowed the whole shebang.

IRS claims Matt gets one trip to bring over his goods, citing Reg. 1.217-(2)(b)(4): “The deduction for traveling expenses from the former residence to the new place of residence is allowable for only one trip made by the taxpayer and members of his household; however, it is not necessary that the taxpayer and all members of his household travel together or at the same time.” 2015 T. C. Sum. Op 75, at p. 5.

Matt can use the standard mileage rate for moving expenses, but Matt wants 20 round-trips and IRS only wants to give him one.

Judge Gerber gives Matt 19.

“Respondent [IRS] cited no cases for his interpretation that the one-trip limitation of paragraph (b)(4) applies to travel to transport personal property to a new residence. Petitioner, confronted with a $22,000 to $30,000 cost to have a moving company move his personal property, transported the property to the new location in anticipation of moving to that residence. The property was stored near the new residence in anticipation of the final move to the new residence.

“Respondent’s interpretation would ignore the actual cost incurred by individuals who move their own personal property and would effectively limit the purpose of section 1.217-2(b)(3), Income Tax Regs., to instances where taxpayers paid to have their personal property commercially moved or moved by someone not a member of the family.” 2015 T. C. Sum. Op. 75, at pp. 5-6.

But to make IRS happy, Judge Gerber says the last of the 20 trips doesn’t count, to preserve the majesty and terror of the one-trip rule of Reg. 1.217-2(b)(4). So Matt gets docked $41.82.

Matt gets trailer rental,  30 days of storage expense (30-day limit on storage expense deduction per Reg. 1.217-(2)(b)(3)), and his round-trip standard-rate mileage minus the one trip.

His hotel bill is out, as Section 217 and its pendant regs do not provide for interim lodging expenses.

And Judge Gerber gives Matt and IRS a holiday present: a Rule 155 bean-count.


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