Academics Couldn't Deduct Knowledge Expansion Expenses

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By Erin McManus

Aug. 9 — A college professor and his librarian wife couldn't deduct as employee business expenses internet, cellular telephone, computer and satellite television expenses ( Tanzi v. Commissioner , T.C., No. 13603-14, T.C. Memo. 2016-148, 8/9/16 ).

U.S. Tax Court Judge Juan Vasquez ruled Aug. 9 that the expenses claimed by Lawrence and Patsy Jean Tanzi weren't “ordinary and necessary for the trades of being a professor or a campus librarian but rather” were personal, living or family expenses.

Vasquez said the Tanzis didn't show the amount of business use of computer equipment relative to the total or provide any evidence regarding its depreciation. The Tanzis also failed to show the portion of cell phone use that was business or the portion of internet service that Patsy used while working from home.

The court found that Lawrence's internet use, the couple's expenditures for a professional library of DVDs, CDs and books, and their DirecTV subscription were in the nature of personal expenses. The Tanzis' argued that the expenses were “ordinary and necessary to their trades because they must constantly expand their ‘general knowledge' to be effective at their jobs,” Vasquez said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erin McManus in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Cheryl Saenz at

For More Information

Text of the decision is in TaxCore.

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