Monday, February 12

A Tax Benefit you never knew you didn't get

As Firefighters and Paramedics the tax laws gave us certain benefits when purchasing equipment, uniforms, mileage between stations and all sorts of other little perks we could deduct when tax time rolled around.
Heck I made a spreadsheet with the mileages from each firehouse to each other firehouse (we have 42) and each January the wife would make me print out my work history and plot all my details to other stations.  Turned out that mileage was deductible that year.

That's all changing this year because of the new tax laws, but I wanted to focus on a deduction many firefighters have been taking for years and not realizing they can't:

Meals.

We've all been there at the dinner table and had someone spout out about how, because we aren't given breaks the meals are deductible.  Nope.

There's also the guys who live more than 50 miles away who read the tax law and said, "Well, I'm 50 miles from home and it says we can deduct meals that far from home!"  Nope.

Still more will argue they are allowed to take a certain percentage of the per diem rate published by the IRS because they are on a work related task.  Nope.

Believe me, I used to be all 3 of those guys.  Then I got a tax pro who set me straight on the law.

Here's an article that can explain more about deducting meals on duty.  The short answer is no, you can't.

If you have been doing so you need to get in touch with a tax professional ASAP.  That link above (full disclosure) goes to my tax preparer, who actually knows their stuff.

Lots is changing this year as to what we can deduct, if anything at all, so you'll not only need a hand with this year's filing, but perhaps the last couple of years and set a plan for next tax season.

We don't listen to the divorced guys when they try to give us relationship advice, why listen to them about taxes.  Get a pro.

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