Attorney-at-Law

THE HELICOPTER PARENT

In Uncategorized on 10/07/2019 at 16:34

No, this is not an essay on the overbearing micromanaging forebear of some innocent infant. Today we have the story of the helicopter pilot whose younger son is a keen tennisplayer, so off to GA he and family go from ME. But the pilot is flying off-again, on-again Medevacs on contract in Saudi Arabia (hereinafter “The Kingdom”), and wants Section 911 treatment.

You see where this one is going in Joseph S. Bellwood and Jacqueline E. Bellwood, 2019 T. C. Memo. 135, filed 10/7/19. Joe never had the 330 days in The Kingdom, so the enhanced scrutiny of “tax home” in The Kingdom is then applied.

Judge David Gustafson tries to be obliging, but Joe has too much density altitude to get his case off the ground. Joe’s “abode” was back in the U.S.A.

“One’s ‘abode’ is where he ‘abides’.  Acone v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2017-162, at *12.  However, an individual’s abode cannot be determined by simply identifying the location where he spent the greatest number of days during  a given period, especially if a location where he spent fewer days was his family home where he spent those days with his wife and youngest son.  This Court and at least one Court of Appeals have recognized a domestic-vs.-vocational distinction for determining one’s ‘abode’ under section 911….” 2019 T. C. Memo. 133, at p 17. (Citations omitted).

They key test, though trite, is simple: Home is where the heart is.

“Consequently, when one of the locations with which an individual is connected is in the United States (e.g., when during the relevant periods the taxpayer owns a home in the United States and spends numerous days at that home, and when the taxpayer’s spouse and youngest child live at that home during the relevant periods), we consider the domestic or vocational nature of the time spent in each location in addition to counting the number of days. Accordingly, we compare the domestic and vocational qualities of Mr. Bellwood’s respective dwellings, and the time he spent at each, to help determine whether his ‘abode’ remained in the United States.” 2019 T. C. Memo. 133, at p. 18.

Of course, the fact of home ownership in The Land of the Free, and the presence of one’s nearest and dearest there (as opposed to exiling them to “stronds afar remote”), do not negate Foreign Earned Income Credit.

Except.

“During the time Mr. Bellwood spent in Saudi Arabia, his regular activities were primarily vocational.  Mr. Bellwood testified that his non-work-related activities in Saudi Arabia were limited because of the demanding nature of his work–he went to the barber or grocery store as needed and visited the occasional restaurant, but most of his time in Saudi Arabia was spent either working or resting and preparing for his next shift.  That is true, but only because when Mr. Bellwood had spare time, he did not wish to spend it in Saudi Arabia.  Rather, during his days off duty, Mr. Bellwood returned to his home in the United States where he spent time with his family, pursued his hobbies, and managed the day-to-day affairs of his personal life.  In Georgia he maintained his registration to vote, received his mail, updated his driver’s license, and registered his vehicle.  Thus, the nature of Mr. Bellwood’s respective dwellings and the manner in which he spent his time at each indicate that his ‘abode’ was in the United States, and that he traveled to Saudi Arabia for work only.” 2019 T. C. Memo. 133, at p. 20.

Besides, his employment contract said that when his tour was over, he would be repatriated.

Unreimbursed employee expenses go by the boards. as does reliance on Turbotax. One again, “(A)lthough this Court has not held that TurboTax or other tax preparation software would qualify or fail to) qualify as advice of a ‘competent professional’, we have held that ‘[t]ax preparation software such as TurboTax is only as good as the information the taxpayer puts into it.  The misuse of tax preparation software, even if unintentional or accidental, is no defense to accuracy-related penalties under section 6662.’  Langley v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2013-22, at *9-*10 (citations omitted).” 2019 T. C. Memo. 133, at p. 33.

And Joe’s inputs were replete with what Judge Gustafson characterizes as “foot faults.”

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