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Posted: 2/9/2006 6:00:06 PM EDT
I would like to know if there's a listing somewhere of the tax deductions LE officers can take relating to work expenses.

I currently deduct:

Modern Firearms after qualifying with them
Ammunition purchased in calibers for said firearms
Washing Uniforms
Personal cell phone since used for work related issues


The one area I'm most interested in is membership in Fraternal organizations. My wife gets to deduct union dues but I'm not union and was wondering if FOP membership qualifies and also membership in the FOP's Legal Defense Fund.

If anyone knows an answer to this question I'd appreciate a response and if a list of deductible items exists somewhere I'd also appreciate a link.

Thanks guys,
Scott
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 8:08:30 PM EDT
Yes your FOP dues count. I deduct anything I purchase for work. It doesn't matter if it's a gun or a paperclip. If it's used for work it gets deducted. There was a form that listed all kinds of things deductible to L.E.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 8:14:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Scotter260:
I would like to know if there's a listing somewhere of the tax deductions LE officers can take relating to work expenses.

I currently deduct:

Modern Firearms after qualifying with them I believe you may deduct one firearm a year
Ammunition purchased in calibers for said firearms Not deductable but many cops do so.
Washing Uniforms Deductable
Personal cell phone since used for work related issues Not deductable again many cops do


The one area I'm most interested in is membership in Fraternal organizations. My wife gets to deduct union dues but I'm not union and was wondering if FOP membership qualifies and also membership in the FOP's Legal Defense Fund.

If anyone knows an answer to this question I'd appreciate a response and if a list of deductible items exists somewhere I'd also appreciate a link.

Thanks guys,
Scott



I have heard of cops deducting haircuts because you must stay well groomed. (Not deductable)
Home telephone bill because they are required to have a home phone (Not deductable)
Suit for court (Not deductable you can wear it to a wedding, Church or for any other reason)
Some people deduct a lot of things and exagerate the amount on things that are deductable it is not worth it if you ever get audited.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 8:29:25 PM EDT
My CPA is the way telling me I can deduct ammo, range fees, guns for work, cell phones for work, etc. If I get audited, he'll be right there with me
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 8:32:58 PM EDT
Well good luck!
I have been told several times that the cell phone deduction is no good.
Department gives you ammo to qualify so I have also been told the ammo thing is a no go.
I have always been told "one gun a year" I am not sure if you can deduct more than one, but I thionk no.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 9:49:01 PM EDT
So according to that I couldn't write off training I fund myself, the supplies to go with it, etc. Nor could I buy any duty gear since my department already gives that to me. Correct?
Link Posted: 2/10/2006 4:16:05 AM EDT

Originally Posted By NCPatrolAR:
So according to that I couldn't write off training I fund myself, the supplies to go with it, etc. Nor could I buy any duty gear since my department already gives that to me. Correct?



Correct! You can only deduct what is required in order for you to do your job. If, for example, all your duty gear is issued to you, that fancy hi-speed holster you've always wanted instead and bought is not deductible. Why? Because you chose to buy it rather than your Dept requiring you to buy it.

Same issue with the ammo and training. Unless your Dept requires you, in writing or in policy, to go to the range xxxxx amount of times a year (while off duty), your range time, ammo, and related fees are not deductible.....

Link Posted: 2/10/2006 11:33:55 AM EDT
So only if your dept requires something is it deductible? That would eliminate attending schools and /or seminars that are related because technically it's not required that you go. What's the opinion on milelage and gas for xtra duty assignments?
Link Posted: 2/10/2006 1:45:07 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/10/2006 1:46:21 PM EDT by ChrisLe]

Originally Posted By Juntau:
So only if your dept requires something is it deductible? That would eliminate attending schools and /or seminars that are related because technically it's not required that you go.



Not exactly. If these schools will assist you in being promoted, then they are tax deductible. You have to read the tax codes for the exact wording.


What's the opinion on mileage and gas for extra duty assignments?


Deductibility of mileage is more a factor of where you travel for work rather than why you travel to work. Commuting between your regular place of employment and home does not allow for deduction of mileage. However, driving form home to an alternate (temporary) work location does qualify for mileage deduction. For example, your boss calls you and tells you to report directly to an alternate work site (another station or location other than your regular station house), then the mileage from home to that alternate location is deductible. Also, traveling via POV from one work location to another is also deductible. Please be aware that the IRS requires that you keep a meticulous log book indicating starting mileage, ending mileage and locations in order to prove the deduction.....

ETA: Always read the IRS Pubs and consult a CPA......
Link Posted: 2/10/2006 4:24:05 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/10/2006 8:45:17 PM EDT by Scotter260]
Dang, the reason I deduct the stuff I do is because my CPA advised me that these were legitimate deductions and he does all the cops in my area.

Very interesting,
Scott
Link Posted: 2/10/2006 4:32:18 PM EDT
A couple more that most in my area deduct.

With take home cars, most will deduct storage fees. I mentioned it to my CPA, and they said it was legit.

Also, many have deducted snowblowers if they have take home cars, not sure what percentage they used though. They said that since they were considered necessary personnel, that they had to keep their driveway clear to get out with the squad. I haven't tried this one yet.
Link Posted: 2/10/2006 4:59:51 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Scotter260:
Dang, the reason I deduct the stuff I do is because my CPA advised me that these were legitimate deductions and he does all the cops my area.

Very interesting,
Scott



Same here... my guy also has a history as a former IRS agent and local po-po guy
Link Posted: 2/10/2006 8:44:55 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/10/2006 8:45:43 PM EDT by Scotter260]
Here's my reasoning for some of my deductions. I realize this is personal and obviously if the IRS doesn't agree then my personal opinion doesn't matter.

Long guns-My department does not provide me with a long gun, therefore, I deduct the cost as I qualify and am therefore allowed to carry a personally owned or purchased long guns.

Hand guns-My department does not issue me an off-duty firearm. Any suitable handgun that I purchase I qualify with and am also therefore allowed to carry it off-duty.

Ammunition-My department does not provide me with practice or duty ammunition for the above and it's up to me to obtain and utilize suitable practice and duty ammunition.

It seems like common sense to me but I'm not any kind of expert hence my question.

Are any of you that responded that these are not legitimate deductions accountants? I'm not implying if you're not that you're wrong, I'm just wondering.

Thanks for all the replies so far,
Scott
Link Posted: 2/10/2006 9:33:31 PM EDT
I deduct for clothing (and thier care) I wear specifically for work. The place I work doesn't issue uniforms, but does have a clothing/appearance policy. I have to buy clothing larger than I would normally wear to accomidate/conceal my gear. That clothing is also altered to have thicker linings and such for the hard points of my stuff so they don't wear holes in them. If I wear the stuff without my gear I look like I'm wearing my dad's clothes. I have other clothing in smaller sizes and tailored differently for going to weddings, fancy dinners etc. in.
Link Posted: 2/11/2006 3:16:47 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/11/2006 3:35:58 AM EDT by ChrisLe]

Originally Posted By Scotter260:
Are any of you that responded that these are not legitimate deductions accountants? I'm not implying if you're not that you're wrong, I'm just wondering.
Scott



Scott,

I have one accountant who works for the IRS and an IRS Special Agent in the family....That's where my information comes from. Let’s just say when I told my brother (the IRS agent) about the snow blower deduction above, he found it so ridiculous he nearly hit the floor he was laughing so hard...

Also, just as an FYI, here are his responses (the IRS agent) when I emailed him your post:


Originally Posted By Scotter260:
Long guns-My department does not provide me with a long gun, therefore, I deduct the cost as I qualify and am therefore allowed to carry a personally owned or purchased long guns.



Is he required to qualify on and carry a long gun as a contingency of his employment? Yes= deductible. No=nondeductible. Read IRS rules on misc/business expenses......


Hand guns-My department does not issue me an off-duty firearm. Any suitable handgun that I purchase I qualify with and am also therefore allowed to carry it off-duty.


Same as above. Is he required by Dept policy to purchase an off duty firearm or can he use his duty firearm when off duty? If he is allowed to carry his duty firearm off duty,, then it is not deductible..........


Ammunition-My department does not provide me with practice or duty ammunition for the above and it's up to me to obtain and utilize suitable practice and duty ammunition.


Same as above. The only way range time/ammo is deductible is if 1.) Your Dept does not provide you with duty ammo, or 2.) Your Dept specifically requires you to fire 'xxxx' amount of rounds or go to the range xxxxxxx amount of times per year on your own time/nickel...


Not trying to be a pain in the ass, but if you take the time to actually read the IRS codes you'll see a lot of the deduction we (including me) take are not allowed.


Link Posted: 2/11/2006 5:32:59 AM EDT
tag
Link Posted: 2/13/2006 4:23:57 PM EDT
ChrisLe:

I appreciate you taking the time to let me know.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go delete all my previous posts in case are watching.

Scott
Link Posted: 2/13/2006 5:39:31 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Scotter260:
ChrisLe:

I appreciate you taking the time to let me know.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go delete all my previous posts in case are watching.

Scott



Scott,

It’s no problem at all. I'm sure you realize that, like every other piece of Gov’t gobblygook ever written, the IRS code is open to interpretation. As such, some CPAs are more liberal than others insofar as allowable deductions (based, of course, on their interpretation of the code).

The only true way of knowing if the marginal or 'questionable' deductions are allowable, is by looking at past IRS rulings resulting from audits. The good CPA will be able to reference past IRS decisions when deciding what is and isn't deductible rather than basing ones deductions on his interpretation alone.
Link Posted: 2/13/2006 11:23:23 PM EDT
As a survivor of three IRS audits where business expenses were specifically targeted, I can offer some comments from the trenches of having been there and done that. I have always done my own taxes, not used a CPA, did my own legal research on the tax code and defended my own tax returns at the audits. I won two audits outright and the third one cost me ~$80.00 (included 3 years of interest) and that was only because my Wife had a strange job as both an inside and outside sales person and the laws on deductions changed that year.

Background:

- I was an electrical engineer, working full time as such.
- For the first audit, I was attending graduate school for my MBA. That was one big reason for my return to get kicked out for audit the first time. NO expenses were reimbursed by the company and they did not support the idea of employees going for MBAs, so no letter from company to help support my claim at the IRS . . . I was totally on my own.
- For two of the tax years audited, I was also working part-time as a Special Police Officer for the town. We were supplied NOTHING in gear, NO officers were ever given practice ammo (only ammo to qualify with duty weapon 2x/year), no formal policy on off-duty carry at all (rarely practiced even today in the PRM).

I rode the commuter rail into work every day with an IRS investigator, so I tapped him for some advice on the first audit, as of course I was panic-stricken when I got the notice.

Lessons learned:

- If you have a spreadsheet of all your expenses in the category audited (do NOT bring any records not related to specific topics of audit) and give them a copy they are thrilled. Legally they are NOT entitled to a copy, but this falls into the same category of someone being stopped by the police for some small infraction . . . attitude goes a long way! They never asked to see my receipts (true in all 3 audits), but one auditor thanked me because s/he (don't recall which one) told me that s/he would have had to make a list of all the receipts if s/he didn't get the spreadsheet from me, and thus was grateful for my making the job go a lot quicker.
- I deducted everything that was related to my business expenses, gun club dues, ammo on duty gun only, mileage to/from details (we always used our own cars), uniform, equipment, etc.
- On my MBA expenses the auditor apologized and explained that she didn't have authority to approve them, that she had to get her supervisor to approve them. The supervisor came in and was quite arrogant (the auditor was quite pleasant) and said he'd deny the MBA expenses. I showed him the booklet on Misc. Business Expenses where it explained educational deductions and his answer was "I don't agree with that information", to which I responded "It's in an IRS publication. I'll see you in Tax Court" and I spun on my heel and walked away. I appealed to an IRS arbitrator, it took only a few minutes and my entire business deductions were accepted as filed.
- The message here is that if you read the IRS booklet (now online), follow their guidelines, and keep the records required for justification, you'll be in pretty good shape. Some CPAs are aggressive while others are more cautious and will recommend against certain deductions to avoid possible "red flags". Likewise you'll run into some IRS agents who can be real jerks (supervisor noted above) and some that are doing their job and being quite reasonable as long as you come across honest and have your paperwork in order.

Good luck.
Link Posted: 2/14/2006 3:33:58 AM EDT
Don't forget that in order to deduct anything work related, you have to exceed something like 2 % of gross salary. I itemize and have NEVER been able to actually claim anything work related. I came close one year when I went to a couple of firearms schools, but that was it. The dues, the uniform cleaning, the various subscriptions, etc...none of it comes close to 2 %.
Link Posted: 2/16/2006 12:38:56 AM EDT

Originally Posted By SNAFU-M1A:
Yes your FOP dues count. I deduct anything I purchase for work. It doesn't matter if it's a gun or a paperclip. If it's used for work it gets deducted. There was a form that listed all kinds of things deductible to L.E.



I believe FOP dues only count if they are your union representation. If they are not it's considered a fraternal oraganization and not deductible. It's only $60 anyway.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 2:13:35 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/19/2006 2:17:50 PM EDT by ColtRifle]
Here's some info on deductible expenses. I owe a little money to the IRS this year and am looking for ways to reduce what I owe. Based on this, I think that you can claim a lot more than some here say.

(I'm not an expert by the way. I just pulled this info from IRS Pub 529. You do still need to reduce it by the 2% of your gross income. Perhaps it's all subject to interpretation)


You can deduct only unreimbursed employee expenses
that are:
1. Paid or incurred during your tax year,
2. For carrying on your trade or business of being an
employee, and
3. Ordinary and necessary.
An expense is ordinary if it is common and accepted in your trade, business, or profession. An expense is necessary if it is appropriate and helpful to your business. An expense does not have to be required to be considerednecessary

You may be able to deduct the following items as unreimbursed employee expenses.

• Business bad debt of an employee.
• Business liability insurance premiums.
• Damages paid to a former employer for breach of an Publicaemployment
contract.
• Depreciation on a computer or cellular telephone
your employer requires you to use in your work.
• Dues to a chamber of commerce if membership
helps you do your job.
• Dues to professional societies.
• Education that is work related.
• Educator expenses that are more than you can deduct on Form 1040, line 23.
• Home office or part of your home used regularly and
exclusively in your work.
• Job search expenses in your present occupation.
• Laboratory breakage fees.
• Legal fees related to your job.
• Licenses and regulatory fees.
• Malpractice insurance premiums.
• Medical examinations required by an employer.
• Occupational taxes.
• Passport for a business trip.
• Repayment of an income aid payment received
under an employer’s plan.
• Research expenses of a college professor.
• Rural mail carriers’ vehicle expenses.
• Subscriptions to professional journals and trade
magazines related to your work.
• Tools and supplies used in your work.
• Travel, transportation, entertainment, and gift ex-
penses related to your work.
• Union dues and expenses.
• Work clothes and uniforms if required and not suitable
for everyday use.
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