Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pipeliner challanges

Q.  We really need some help.  Several family members are pipeliners and live in their RV or hotels in different states for different companies throughout the year. We reside in the midwest..

1.  Can we just take the standard daily living allowance and meals deductions instead of keeping up with receipts and using expenses of RV maintanence/depreciation/supplies?  Life would be simpler and we would have more deductions.  I cannot find where it says we have to use receipts instead of daily allowance.  All of our RVs' are not expensive so deprecation is not great.

2.  We use as deductions:  business/medical miles, donations/membership/contributions, wireless, union dues, property taxes, work related/clothes, hotels, RV rent, RV repairs/supplies, laundry, ATM fees, satellite charges, and work miles. Are there others deductions?  If we used the standard daily allowance, the list above would be shorter.

We use CPAs' but I don't think we are getting the proper refunds.  We make a lot of money BUT we spend a lot of money on the road.

Thank you in advance for you help.

A.  You ask some very reasonable and sensible questions, but if you are working as contact labor (self-employed) without benefit of W-2 forms, you will not be eligible to use the per diem rates. They were designed for employers and or the government to simplify their bookkeeping! For your convenience, I am linking Pub. 1542 for your perusal. 

Unfortunately we taxpayers are saddled with massive amounts of record keeping in order to keep the IRS auditors at bay. If you are full time RVers you have the additional challenge of changing your tax home as you move from state to state.  Most likely you don't stay long enough to qualify for the moving expense deduction. I wish I had better news for you, but can only tell you what the regulations currently allow.

If by chance you are employees and not independent contractors, then it is up to you to contact the level of management necessary for your employer to agree on some type of compensation or per diem allowance to compensate you for your expenses. Good luck & stay safe!