In Uncategorized on 05/25/2023 at 15:34

Joseph Michael Ledbetter and Ashley Jones Ledbetter, T. C. Sum. Op. 19, filed 5/25/23, kept excellent records “detailing Mr. Ledbetter’s daily travel, including times, locations, and business purpose.” T. C. Sum. Op. 19, at p. 5.  Mr. Ledbetter was a lead foreman on sheet metal jobs, which he got from his union, and worked at a Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear power station, on and off, for the same employer.

He would get furloughed (short time) or laid off (indefinite time) when contracts ended or funds ran short, but no break was more than four (count ’em, four) months, and during the two years at issue, no break was more than nine days. His daily round trip to work was 184.2 carefully documented miles. He claims unreimbursed employee business expense, claiming work was temporary, hence not commuting.

Judge Elizabeth Crewson Paris has this one.

“Petitioners rely primarily on the fact that work assignments from the union were indefinite in duration, contingent on the availability of funding, and prone to work stoppages. In support of their position, petitioners provided a copy of Mr. Ledbetter’s Temporary Employment Agreement with [employer], as well as a letter from [employer], stating that ‘[a]ll contract work is considered temporary assignments.’” T. C. Sum. Op. 19, at p. 7.

The employer and the union may think so, but not Judge Paris.

“While it is true that Mr. Ledbetter’s work assignments were indefinite in length, it cannot be said that his employment at the … Nuclear Plant was ‘temporary’ as that term is defined by the caselaw. Mr. Ledbetter was continuously employed at the … Nuclear Plant from 2012 until 2019, albeit with different contractors. From 2012 through 2019 he faced no period of layoff exceeding four months. During the years at issue specifically, Mr. Ledbetter worked 235 days in 2015 and 252 days during 2016. The longest break between workdays during either of those years was 9 days. Mr. Ledbetter’s employment at the … Nuclear Plant was consistent throughout the years at issue, and at no point during 2014 through 2016 was Mr. Ledbetter not employed at the plant.” T. C. Sum. Op. 19, at p. 7.

Construction work is by nature impermanent, and workers often have to travel substantial distances from home as the worksite changes. But the law and Tax Court make no distinction between construction workers and all others.

Taishoff says, everybody is equal until 2026: nobody gets to deduct unreimbursed employee expenses.

  1. The most notable detail about this decision is that the trial was held on February 3, 2020, and briefing closed in May 2020.


  2. Mr Kamman, indeed, a very quick timetable. But sometimes haste makes cliché. “On brief, respondent additionally asserts that petitioners’ entitlement to the residential energy credit for 2016 is at issue. Respondent’s assertion appears to be based on a misreading of the Notice of Deficiency; the credit was not disallowed. To the extent respondent seeks to increase the deficiency by disallowing the claimed credit, this issue represents a new matter raised for the first time on brief, and the Court will not consider it.” T. C. Sum. Op. 19, at p. 4, footnote 3.


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