Firefighter Meals and Cell Phone Income Tax Deduction

by T-bone
(Chicago, IL, USA)

Firefighter Income Tax Deductions

Firefighter Income Tax Deductions

Hi there,

First, thanks for helping all of us who would be lost otherwise. Onto the question...I'm a full-time firefighter at a municipal dept. My schedule is 24 hours on/48 hours off. There are a few guys at the station that go to a "great tax guy" who basically deducts money each time one of the guys says the word "firefighter". The big things that they seem to deduct are:

-Clothing upkeep ($x / load - which is once a duty day - approx 110 days per yr -assuming 10 days of reduction / vacation)
-Cell phone (we do receive emergency pages via text message, and calls for overtime, so we do need a phone for work...however, we all use the phone for other purposes)
-Meal deductions (we pay $10 each day into a meal fund, then shop at the local grocery store...then prepare lunch and dinner at the station. This is NOT mandatory and we can choose to bring in our own meals...only one or two people at the department bring their own)

Anyway - at least one person deducts...

**Clothing: $5 x 110 =$550 (even though he washes his clothes at the station and has no receipt of using a laundromat

**Cell phone: $100 x 12 = $1200 (even though he uses his phone for personal use as well)

**Meals: $10 x 110 = $1100

Is ANY of this legit? I do see "meals" on your worksheet, but in researching, it looked like those can only be deducted if they are a mandatory condition of employment. Any guidance you could provide would be greatly appreciated!!!!!

Comments for Firefighter Meals and Cell Phone Income Tax Deduction

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Apr 03, 2016
Firefighters Cannot Deduct Meals
by: Firefighter CPA

I am a firefighter and CPA. There are many tax practioners that deduct the cost of firefighter meals.

They are wrong! Will they get caught? Probably not, but they are wrong.

Meals can only be deducted if they are "required as a condition of your employment"

Sep 22, 2015
Shift Meals
by: William Jack

I think that if there is a set quantity per shift for meals, it is a measured part of station duty, a tax guy knows fire fighter tax regulations inside out and he has a set quantity per shift that he considers obligatory meal cost and it is part of station dues.

Jul 02, 2015
Firefighter Per Diems?
by: Anonymous

Firefighters are NOT entitled to deduct per diem allowances on their taxes. Their meals on the job, whether on a 24 hour shift or not, are treated the same as any other regular worker's meals during the work day. Stop spreading misinformation and check the tax court decisions on this!

Mar 28, 2011
Legitimate Firefighter Deductions
by: Steph


Typically, all three of these deductions are legitimate unreimbursed firefighter expenses reported on schedule form 2106 which flows through to schedule A Itemized Deductions subject to 2% limitation.

According to the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), travelers are entitled to 75% of the prescribed meals and incidental expenses for one day travel away from your official station if it is longer than 12 hours.

Firefighters may qualify for the per diem meals and cleaning expense deductions as their work keeps them away from home overnight but the rules vary and the per diem rates are different depending upon where you are located.

The cell phone is considered listed property which means it is used for both business and personal use. Therefore the cell phone expense should be limited to the portion of business use only.

For more information regarding per diem rates and deductible unreimbursed business expenses see Publication 529 and Federal Travel Regulation on the website.


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