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I'm new to tax returns as well as this site. I'm filling my tax returns, and last year I've been taking lunch at this restaurant. I don't have the receipts but the charge is listed in my bank statement. Will that work?

The question is in more context of producing evidence in case of audit. I don't have the receipt but if I show them my bank statement to back it up, will that work?

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    Meals, while working, are only a deduction if it was in the context of a business meeting. – JoeTaxpayer Apr 16 '18 at 12:34
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    @App2015 if you are a W-2 employee, you are not a business in the eyes of the IRS. As such you cannot have any kind of business expenses. You may be able to deduct some unreimbursed expenses if you itemize, but individual meals are not included there. – Pete B. Apr 16 '18 at 13:12
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    I suggest you read irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/… - As I read it, I don't see how you can take the home office deduction. Other members may differ in my interpretation. – JoeTaxpayer Apr 16 '18 at 14:08
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    From the linked IRS pub, I don't see how you can claim an area that's just for business use. The equipment is different. As a W2 employee, why are you responsible for your own equipment? – JoeTaxpayer Apr 16 '18 at 14:18
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    @App2015 my advice would be to see an accountant. You have a some large misconceptions about deductions and that person can educate you and go over how to minimize your taxes. The education you receive will be worth the small fee paid. I say accountant, not a drone from a well known tax service. – Pete B. Apr 16 '18 at 14:36
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Employees can't deduct ordinary commuting from your home, or meals taken before, during or after the workday. There is an exception if you are traveling but the litmus test there is that where you sleep that night is a significant distance from your home. There is also an exception for lunches which are bona-fide business meetings, but this is so widely abused that IRS has picayune rules to keep you from gaming that exception, and they can bite you at audit time.

Office space needs to be an exclusive room used only for office. As far as equipment, you can't deduct equipment that is dual-use -- work and also non-work (being a student is non-work unless it's an employer-required course). It needs to pass a "duck test" -- does it look, walk and quack like this is exclusively for work? That can be hard to do in tight quarters.

Suppose you're a draftsman and you own an expensive 42" plotter "for work". But your model railroad room is lined with intricate drawings of model trains obviously printed out on that same 42" plotter. Whoops.

Also, expensive equipment needs to be depreciated - you can't buy a $3000 PC and then boom, take $3000 off your taxes in year 1. Weird, I know.

Generally, if you are getting inventive about how to take deductions, IRS staff and Congress has already been inventive about catching that particular scheme.

  • thanks for the comprehensive answer. In context of trainings, these are not college degree etc. so I'm not a full time student but I do these trainings to meet the demands of the work. – App2015 Apr 16 '18 at 16:34
  • for the computer and other equipment, I'm using turbo tax and it's calculating all the depreciation automatically. – App2015 Apr 16 '18 at 17:03
  • My office space is not an exclusive room, it's a studio and I've allocated portion of it towards my work but I've measured the area taken up by my desk, chair, side table, tv (for work - app development, trainings, presentations) and book stand. – App2015 Apr 16 '18 at 17:05
  • @app in such close quarters, it's tough. Do a "mock court" on the matter, but don't "Mary Sue" the narrative to suit yourself, earnestly play both sides, e.g. think like the IRS agent would. You'll need to know the applicable IRS guidance so read it all, and it helps to follow IRS case law. If in doubt IRS tends to decide in their own favor and say "sue us, here's how". Which I have done successfully. – Harper Apr 16 '18 at 17:37

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