French Vacation

Today TaxMama hears from Sue in Maine who asks: “Is there any way I can deduct any portion of my 3-week trip to France last summer? I am a H.S. French teacher. My CPA said yes, but I am not convinced.”

Hi Sue,

Will your CPA stand behind you in the event of an audit?

Yes, I can see why you’d be skeptical. And IRS isn’t too happy when teachers and others take deductions like this. However, I have won on this point in audits for various clients – who did their homework.

For instance, one woman was a set decorator. We were permitted to deduct over $7,500 for her trip to the Orient and Hawaii. 100% of her expenses. Why? She had detailed albums with photos of all the room arrangements, art, sculptures, pottery, fabrics, etc. to use in the film she was going to work on. Even though the film was canceled, the deduction was sustained due to the obvious attention to her craft.

So, how does that apply to you? You’re a French teacher. What did you bring back to help you teach your class better? Did you bring back recordings of the way the French presently speak? Perhaps recordings of TV shows in French? Or American shows dubbed in French? Examples of modern French culture, etc.?

Did you visit any French schools and meet with any French teachers to see how school is being taught in France? Or did you even visit classes to see how the French teach English, and exchange notes?

My first high school French teacher was a woman with such a pronounced American accent it was literally painful to hear her speak. I still shudder from the memory! So, if you’re not a native French speaker, did you at least improve your accent?

ARE you using what you learned or brought back from your trip in your classroom? And how are you using it?

These are all important issues in the event you’re audited. Of course, if you’re never audited, who cares? The odds of your being audited? About 1%.

So discuss this carefully with your CPA. And perhaps if you cannot deduct this trip, lay the groundwork for the next trip.

Document your business purpose for anything – you win the deduction AND you improve your business or professional standing – and earnings.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about deducting travel, and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At TaxMama.com

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