Attorney-at-Law

AT HOME ABROAD – IF YOU STAY AWAY

In Uncategorized on 11/16/2020 at 14:28

Overseas contractors in war zones rarely win the Section 911(d) “abode” jumpball. Usually, the offshorenik’s ties to the Land of the Free outweigh their confined existence upon stronds afar remote.  But today, Judge Morrison gives us a small claimer, wherein Patrick L. Duke, Docket No. 25906-17, filed 11/16/20, comes away with the win, despite his confinements to base first at Camp Liberty, Baghdad, Iraq, and later the “U.S. Embassy’s Diplomatic Support Center in Baghdad, Iraq.” Order, Transcript, at p. 5.

Pat had first gone to Iraq in 2006, and only came back in 2020, because the base couldn’t treat a 60-year-old high risk patient for COVID-19. Order, Transcript, at p. 10.

During years at issue, Pat couldn’t leave either base. His life as a heavy-equipment jockey was circumscribed. “Duke lived in a shipping container unit on base. He lived in the same unit the entire time he worked on base. It was a 12 to 14 foot by 40 foot shipping container with two rooms and a bathroom in the middle. Duke lived in one of those rooms and shared the bathroom. He was not allowed to make any modifications to the unit. He did not hang pictures on the walls, for fear of them being knocked off the wall by explosions from incoming enemy fire.” Order, Transcript, at p. 6.

Pat kept his TX driver license, hunting license, and voter registration (although he didn’t vote in either year at issue). During his deployment but before the years at issue, he bought a house in Rosenberg, TX (which you have to visit with your grandchildren, if you are lucky enough to have them; the railroad museum was a blast). But he didn’t stay there much in the two years at issue. He went fishing mostly. Judge Morrison finds Pat and Mrs. Pat were separated during years at issue, and slept in separate bedrooms. Mrs. Pat resented Pat going to Iraq. He rarely interacted with family when home, and rarely Skyped. He kept and funded the US bank account, which Mrs. Pat used to pay the bills.

I’ve blogged a number of cases like this, and petitioner always lost. Not this time, not today.

“Considering the facts and circumstances of this case, we find that Duke’s ties to Iraq were stronger than his ties to the U.S. during the [years at issue]. Duke left for Iraq in 2006 and returned to the U.S. in 2020, some 14 years later. He only moved back to the U.S. because of the pandemic. His communications with his friends and family in the U.S. were few and infrequent. He returned to the U.S. only occasionally. He became estranged from his wife due to his living and working in Iraq for so long.

“We therefore hold that Duke’s abode was not in the U.S. and that his tax home was in Iraq.” ” Order, Transcript, at p. 13.

BTW, Pat and Mrs. Pat reconciled after he came back. Who says Tax Court Judges don’t go for a happy ending?

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