Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Working Camping

Q.   I have questions on what I can and cannot deduct on my taxes while work camping.  My wife and I use our trailer full time and started work camping in 2013.  My first job was a host and remuneration was a full hook up site.  This lasted for 120 days (4 week). I went on an interview for an Asst Manager position and was hired with remuneration a full hook up site plus $150.00 credit towards propane and electric.  My question is can I deduct mileage for the trip to the interview and moving to the new park, any overage costs over the $150 credit and since I am required to own and live in my RV at this job any upkeep expenses?  Both jobs are in California where we are California residents.  Sorry for the length of the question and thanks for your time.

A.  The RV lifestyle as wonderful as it is, is not viewed favorably in the eyes of the IRS who doesn't acknowledge our existence.  Although job seeking expenses are deductible on Schedule A as a miscellaneous itemized deduction, making your trip for the interview deductible, the actual cost of getting there is considered a commuting expense. You simply don't stay long enough to qualify under the moving expense deduction.

The good news is that since you are staying there for the convenience of your employer, the fair market value of the site and your credit is not taxable income. Any out-of-pocket costs for additional utilities are considered personal. Wish I had better news, but enjoy your stay and keep healthy!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Taxing Out-of-State Visiting RVers

Q.  We travel extensively in our RV since retirement a few years ago, but are not yet truly declared FT'ers, since we still maintain our residence address in Texas.  However, today while we are visiting old friends in Florida for a few weeks, we received our current Dish Satellite TV services bill which had two new Tax items labeled "Communications Services Tax" and "Video Gross Receipts Tax" which we had never seen before.  So I questioned these new taxes, and was told by Dish these are "Florida taxes required by the FCC".  Although we have been been in the state less than 2 weeks and visited 3 different FL addresses since we crossed the border, I can almost rationalize these taxes as a FL sales tax on services obtained while in this state.  I am most concerned with my vague recollection of a generally related article published last year in one of our many RV magazines, about a couple who visited Florida for some extended but temporary period and ultimately received an irrefutable LARGE Tax Bill of some sort, I think based on the RV book value. 
So my questions are, and on behalf of all us RV visitors to Florida and/or any other applicable state:
  1. Are there any other Florida state "Billable" taxes (other than the expected OTC sales taxes, etc.) we may be liable for when visiting here; and by what authorization/justification/statutes, etc. are these based?
  2. Are there any other states that have or are currently contemplating such a new source of taxation on us RV'ers?
Many Thanks for your quick reply, since it will have a definitely influence any future time we plan to be in the sunshine state.

A.  This reply has been anything but quick since I am at a total loss. We have visited Florida a few times, but have never received such a bill.  Apparently there is some type of GPS tracking device on your Dish antenna. We use Direct TV, and it's possible when last there, Direct TV hadn't caught up with the current laws and or technology. I realize most states are hurting for revenue and are trying anything to bring in additional revenues. This is a prime example of taxation without representation! I do my best to keep up with income tax laws, but now I am totally above my pay grade with your question - sorry!

So, this seems like a perfect opportunity for our readers to jump in and tell us your experience. If anyone has further information on this, I will be delighted to post it for all to read. Thank you for your help.