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Washington, DC, Aug. 26, 2020 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), in comments to a proposed rulemaking on the disallowance of deductions for commuting expenses, has asked that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employ a more equitable approach to avoid double taxation and retain critical deductions for business travel.
Before the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in December 2017, certain commuting expenses were deductible by the employer, if, for example, the benefits provided were properly reported as income to the employee or necessary for safety and security. The TCJA enacted a new limitation on deductions for certain commuting expenses, which is the subject of this rulemaking.
NBAA, in response to the TCJA, requested guidance from the IRS and Treasury Department that deductions for commuting expenses should still be allowed in certain situations.
The association also noted that the TCJA’s elimination of employer deductions for commuting where taxable income is correctly imputed to the employee would result in double taxation, which could not have been the intent of Congress in creating this provision.
On June 23, the IRS issued the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking “Qualified Transportation Fringe, Transportation and Commuting Expenses Under Section 274,” detailing its proposed regulatory approach to these critical provisions in the TCJA.
“This is an important step in the regulatory process, and we thank the IRS and Treasury Department for providing us the opportunity to explain how these changes impact business aviation, an industry that is vital to our country’s economic recovery. The proposed regulations require additional clarification and we look forward to working with the IRS to protect taxpayers from double taxation and preserve deductions for commuting benefits necessary to protect the safety and security of employees,” said Scott O’Brien, NBAA’s senior director of government affairs.
In comments filed Aug. 24, NBAA also points to the language used in the IRS’s proposed rulemaking that could unintentionally expose business travel to the TCJA’s limitation on commuting deductions, particularly if an employee works at more than one place of employment.
“There is no indication that Congress intended to apply this disallowance to business travel from an employee’s residence to a secondary place of employment, which is not commuting. This potential effect … should be addressed through regulations to prevent the unintended consequence of disallowing deductible business travel. It seems obvious that such business travel expenses should remain working condition fringe benefits excluded from employees’ income,” said NBAA.
“Accordingly, we request that the regulations clarify that the disallowance … applies only to travel classified as “commuting” and not to otherwise deductible business travel,” the association added.
NBAA also is seeking clarification on the double-taxation implications of TCJA’s fringe benefits provisions. “Disallowing the deduction of employer commuting expenses … while taxing the value of the commuting received by the employee, would result in double taxation,” NBAA noted. “Under the policy of avoiding double taxation, NBAA requests that regulations provide that if the value of the commuting benefit is reported by the employer as compensation to the employee, then the employer should be permitted to deduct the cost of the commuting benefit as compensation expense,” the association added.
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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The association represents more than 11,000 company and professional members and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at nbaa.org.
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