Ask the tax adviser
Are there deductions for merchant mariners licensed by the Coast
Guard and who haul hazardous materials, work Department of Transportation
hours and stay on the boat day and night? I understand there is
a special tax break for this type of work, but I can't find it in
the tax literature I have. Your help is appreciated in clearing
up this situation.
You've heard right. There is a special tax break for individuals
whose work hours are limited by Department of Transportation hours
of service limits. The DOT imposes limits on the hours certain individuals
can work; this includes pilots, truckers and, I guess in your case,
merchant marines. The DOT regulates these individuals so that they
don't create safety risks.
The special break, however, only applies to the unreimbursed
costs of meals incurred. For example, if you work on the boat and
your meals are provided without charge, there is no special tax
break since you don't incur any expenses.
Typically, most business-related meals are only 50-percent
deductible, the theory being that you have to eat anyway. However,
if the DOT regulates your hours, the deduction is 65 percent of
the costs of the meals.
In reality, it's only a little-something-special tax
break, but I guess you guys have a good lobbying group.
-- Posted: Feb. 13, 2003