Teacher's Unreimbursed Business Expenses Denied

A recent Tax Court case serves as a reminder that taxpayers bear the responsibility of proving the business nature and amount of any claims for unreimbursed business expenses.

In this case, Eliana Farias' primary job was teaching elementary school fitness, health and nutrition classes. She also worked part time as an aerobics instructor/personal trainer and school liaison. Some of her claimed deductions that were disallowed included:

Costs of health and beach volleyball courses – Farias did not establish that the health class related to her jobs, and there was no proof that she was required to acquire beach volleyball skills as a condition of her employment.

  • Supply costs for student incentives – Farias did not show that student incentives, which included things like candy and savings bond gifts to students, were required by her employer or otherwise necessary to her jobs.
  • Cost of computer – Farias failed to offer sufficient substantiation of the computer's business use.
  • Specialty chair – A specialty chair, which Farias purchased to alleviate a back injury sustained while moving her class from one room to another, was not an ordinary and necessary teaching expense.
  • Fitness items and aerobics clothing – Farias did not show that these items were unsuitable for general wear outside of her work environment.
  • Mediterranean cruise – Although Farias offered expense receipts for the cruise, during which she went on things like sightseeing and spa visits, she failed to prove business vs. personal purpose for the trip.
  • Field trips – Farias did not prove that field trips, which included outings to movies and Disneyland, were ordinary and necessary expenses of her employment.
 
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