Sketchy Temporary Assignment Tax Deductions

Earlier I highlighted the major deductions available (as misc unreimbursed business expenses) available to me as a result of my temporary assignment for work.

However, there are still lots of other "grey" areas that are on the fence as to their deductibility. Some examples:

  • Bed Sheets - I am renting a furnished room, but still needed to purchase bed sheets for the bed. The bed is not the same size as mine so I spent $21 on bed sheets to fit the bed. I think this is deductible because if I was staying in a hotel these sheets would have been provided for me
  • Trash Can - I purchased a trash can (as well as several other small functional items) for the furnished room I stayed in. Again I think this is deductible since if I stayed in a hotel room one would have been provided for me.
  • Mileage to Grocery Store - I believe this is deductible because its the same as taking mileage to go to dinner at a restaurant. However this may already fall under the incidental allowance that is part of the M&IE daily per diem. I need to do more research.
  • Cleaning Products - ex. Lysol wipes - if I was staying in a hotel, the cleaning would be done for me so I have to think that cleaning supplies is also deductible.

Im not sure how aggressive I should be with these. One could quickly argue either way on these expenses. I probably will not attempt to expense any of these types of items since they don't are not a significant portion of my temporary assignment expenses.

Related in Temporary Assignment:

Wrapped China Assignment, Round 2 (Jan 01, 2014) Hanoi, Vietnam We just wrapped up our temporary assignment in China and arrived back in the US before the end of the year. Its amazing how time flies, it seems like just a few days ago that we began...

Packing Tips for Extended Family Travel (Oct 14, 2013) My young family is on the move - we are currently living in China on a 6 month work assignment. With the exorbitant cost to ship additional stuff to China we were incented to only bring what we could fit...

Survival Guide to Traveling with Young Kids (Jul 28, 2013) We didn't have much experience traveling with our young kids prior to our current assignment in China. We did lots of reading in preparation, but we were unprepared for both how exhausting and rewarding it has been for us. Here...

Comments (1)


The deduction for unreimbursed business expense is hard to qualify. The deduction is only available if you itemize deductions, and only to the extent that the qualified expenses exceed 2% of your AGI. Another blog I read: http://taxplaya.typepad.com/tax_playa/ has good information on unreimbursed business expenses and business travel (look at the topic list on the right side).

That said, as long as you can document a good faith effort to comply with the tax code, go ahead and deduct these items. Worst case scenario, you get audited and those items are disallowed. As long as you are not out to defraud the IRS and you keep good records, you should not be scared by the potential for an audit.

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