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Firefighters have some very specific deductions they can claim (some laundry, watches, meal allowances, etc.) All the guys go to a couple "tax specialists" that do a lot of firefighter's taxes. But they charge over $200. We want to do our own taxes. Is their a good resource out there to help us find all the possible deductions for this type of work?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions or advice!!!
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Hunnypot1,

I'm surprised you haven't received any responses on this question/issue. It's a valid post, so I'll bite.

In my mind the "firefighters tax specialists" can't do any better than an experienced preparer. You must be sure that your situation, in the first place, needs special help.

By that I mean:
1) Are you itemizing your deductions? Do you have mortgage interest, property taxes, state taxes paid, and charitable donations that add up to over the $9,500 STANDARD deduction?

2) Is your income on the low side, where 2% of your gross, doesn't sufficiently reduce or totally negate any miscellaneous deductions (to where job expenses are added)? EX: You may gross $100,000 (two incomes) and must subtract $2,000.00 off of any misc. deductions. Your tax saving becomes little to none. And,

3) If the specialist goes "overboard" (to prove his worth), you may get called into the IRS to explain/prove the large employee job expenses. Time, hassle, for a small net benefit.

I understand you're going to want to prepare your own return. I'm trying to find a resource for you to research firefighter deductions yourself. If you post your general situation, I can probably confirm whether you need a "specialist".

Good luck,
Sc
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Found a site, reviewed it quickly, looks okay:

http://www.avrh.com/FIREFIGHTERS.htm

Sc
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I suspect that no one responded to the original post because no one is aware of any special firefighter-related tax breaks. I didn't see anything in a quick look thru the IRS site, nor did a google search turn up much. What's more, the site located by Steve39C doesn't appear to offer anything out of the ordinary for firefighters. The stuff about cost of uniforms, continuing education, equipment, some travel expenses, etc. are not unique to firefighters - the same things would apply to policemen, UPS drivers, nurses, and so on. If that's the case, I suspect the OP could do just fine with something like TurboTax, reading up carefully on miscellaneous deductions.

Lorenzo
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<<I suspect that no one responded to the original post because no one is aware of any special firefighter-related tax breaks.>>

I should have said this directly. "Specialists" for police, firefighters, truckers, teachers, etc. do a bit of false advertising. Dare I say the tax code is clear (???) on most employee expense issues. You're paying extra for nothing.

Thanks,

Sc
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Well, I would never say that the tax code is clear... But I agree: a "specialist" who claims he can get something extra for firefighters is engaging in a bit of puffery. OP is paying $200 for something he could likely do just as well himself, for free. (Or maybe for the nominal cost of a package like TurboTax.)

Lorenzo
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I'm a firefighter as well. I have found the most talked about firefighter "tax break" is the expensing of meals. Most of us work 24 hour shifts and can not leave for lunch or dinner. The tax law will not let us write it off unless we are "required" to pay in to a house fund.

This is where definitions get stretched a little.

Some east coast big departments may require you pay in to a fund but most smaller departments don't. The guys may all pitch in $5-$10 for a group dinner and some people might feel presured in to contributing but thats it.

Some firefighters will flock to a tax guy if they know he'll put down your meals as a write off no matter what. They probably feel tha tax guy takes all the responsability so might as well give it a shot.

I have wanted to take this deduction for a long time and have researched the hech out of it to try and find a way.

I always come to the same conclusion. My integridy is more importent than saving a few bucks.
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We do itemize as our mortgage interest and charitable giving exceeds the standard deduction. Also, my DH has to buy his own uniforms and some equipment. For example, we spent 1% of his gross annual pay just on a class uniform and dress shoes this year. We have also purchased other work clothes/shoes. He has also been allowed to deduct expenses for cleaning his uniforms, watches, sunglasses, unreimbursed mileage.

Prior to getting this job, I used to do our taxes each year. But my DH wanted to go to the specialist to be sure we got every deduction we qualified for. So we plunked down $220 for this person. I did not like that they would only allow us to deduct 1/2 of his hotel expenses he incurred while attending the fire academy in another city. They seemed to struggle with this decision - sending it up to the manager for an opinion. I know of no such limit (50%) for this unreimbursed expense. As a matter of fact, when other ff's have traveled to attend special classes they have always written off their expenses. I figured if I read up enough about our tax situation, I could confidently do it myself and save the $220. Any suggestions?

Thanks for taking an interest in my situation :-)
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I have also been told that they can deduct a certain dollar amount for food allowance for each shift they work. $15 a day for meals and $3 a day for house dues. As they work 10-12 days a month, this adds up.

I am hoping you are able to direct me to a resource for more info about this. Thank you so much!
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Thanks for the link Sc!!!
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I did not like that they would only allow us to deduct 1/2 of his hotel expenses he incurred while attending the fire academy in another city.

Are you sure it wasn't 1/2 of the meals for the overnight trip?

--Peter <== Has done returns for a couple of firefighters over the years. <grinning> Believes the time spent between runs is spent entirely on discussions of odd ways to make money and save taxes.
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Wow. thanks for the info. I will research this more. Where did you get your info?
I asked DH and he said the tax preparer simply asked how many shifts he worked and multiplied it by $15. Then $3 per shift for house dues. No other questions asked.
Lots to learn. Thanks!
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Oh no, it was the hotel expenses she was balking at. I do not understand how she could have a problem with it.

They also talk football...
:-)
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