In Uncategorized on 12/13/2018 at 15:46

When a newly-minted colleague announces gleefully that s/he has “passed the bar,” my invariable reply is “My condolences.” I’m speaking only partially tongue-in-cheek (although how one can speak at all with tongue in cheek is a good question).

This can be an exhilarating profession, an intriguing life’s work, a ringside seat on the Human Comedy; it can also be stress-inducing, relationship-destroying and dehumanizing.

All that to one side, it can also destroy one’s business tuition deduction. I’ve blogged this before (see my blogpost “Moaning of the Bar,” 11/5/18).

Today’s candidate is another bright, hardworking voyager who comes from away to our shores to learn and earn, Serge Raymond Banini, Docket No. 6699-18S, filed 12/13/18. Serge earns a designated hitter from STJ Diana L Leyden, but IRS gets partial summary J tossing Serge’s deductions.

Serge added to his Cameroon BA in chemistry with a Ph.D. at West Virginia University, and signed up as a Patent Technical Adviser (Life Sciences) with a white-shoe. Serge claims the white-shoe wanted him to get admitted to MA Bar to get his job, but when show-and-tell comes around, his acceptance letter from the white-shoe doesn’t mention lawyering, only helping lawyers understand the life sciences.

The white-shoe did lend him the money for his law school tuition at no interest, but that isn’t enough. Neither is it that having his MA admission helped Serge do his work better.

“…petitioner asserts that the deduction of his legal education expenses should be allowed at least in part because some of the law school courses were only taken to maintain and improve his skills as a patent advisor. However, the regulation provides that expenditures for education which qualify a taxpayer for a new trade or business are not deductible even though the education may maintain or improve skills required for his employment. Sec. 1.162-5(b)(1), Income Tax Regs.; see Bodley v. Commissioner, 56 T.C. 1357, 1361 (1971). The undisputed material facts indicate that attending law school qualified petitioner for the new trade or business of a practicing attorney. Therefore, no partial deduction is allowed even if the education may have maintained or improved petitioner’s skills required for his employment as a patent advisor.” Order, at p. 5.

So summary J for IRS knocking off Serge’s tuition deductions.

Another reason why I express my condolences to those newly-admitted to this crazy profession.


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