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Mathews v. Commissioner (T.C. Memo. 2021-28)

On March 9, 2021, the Tax Court issued a Memorandum Opinion in the case of Mathews v. Commissioner (T.C. Memo. 2021-28). The primary issue presented in Mathews was whether the petitioner was entitled to car and truck expenses which were incurred driving from his residence to the location of his employer, a trucking company.

General Rule

As a general rule, expenses for traveling between one’s home and one’s place of business or employment are commuting expenses and, consequently, nondeductible personal expenses. See IRC § 262(a); Fausner v. Commissioner, 413 U.S. 838 (1973); Commissioner v. Flowers, 326 U.S. 465 (1946); Feistman v. Commissioner, 63 T.C. 129, 134 (1974); Bogue v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2011-164, *5.

The petitioner testified that the reported mileage was for his commuting expenses…which begs the question, why has the court even bothered issuing a memorandum opinion in this case… I think that simply popping the petitioner on the nose with a newspaper, or rubbing his nose in the shit that was his argument would have been perfectly sufficient.  Further, this approach would have saved your fearless editor from having to summarize this opinion.

Prior Supervisory Approval

Apparently, the IRS also believed that the case was so open and shut that no evidence needed to be presented as to prior supervisory approval of the initial penalty determination. This was, it turns out, an error in judgment. In rather summary fashion, the Tax Court observes that “the record contains no evidence of the requisite supervisory approval” for the accuracy -related penalty of IRC § 6662.  As a consequence, the IRS failed to meet the burden of production, and the petitioner is not liable for the accuracy-related penalty at issue.  See Oliveri v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2019-57; Platts v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2018-31; Ford v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2018-8, aff’d, 751 F. App’x 843 (6th Cir. 2018).

Until shown otherwise, I choose to blame Felicia for yet another penalty approval cockup.

(T.C. Memo. 2021-28) Mathews v. Commissioner

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