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Wearing the Wrong Shoes to Tax Court Can Cost You

The TaxProf has blogged a Tax Court case that made me groan. And probably any tax professional worth their salt.

The story is of a welder in West Virgina who was "assertive" when claiming unreimbursed employee expenses on Form 2106. Among other things he claimed $600 in unidentified clothing and gloves. In order for uniforms to be decutible they cannot be suitable for general or personal wear. Painter's pants, for example, are specifically listed in IRS publications as not deductible.

Knowing this, what shoes would you wear to court??

Well, our hapless defendent showed up in court wearing his Rocky Wolverine boots, which were included in the $600 deduction. By wearing them to court, he made the judge's ruling a no-brainer. If he could wear them to court they were suitable for personal use and therefore not dedubtible.

Now I don't know if he had a tax professional prepare his return (I would hope not given the further details in the court, edit version available here). But surely our welder hired someone to represent him in Tax Court? Shouldn't that person have advised him of the actual rules and suggested he not wear any of the deducted clothes, including his Rocky Wolverine boots, to court?!!

The devil is always in the details!