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Ed Johnson
Ed Johnson, Tax Preparer
Category: Tax
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Experience:  GPHR Cert; U.S. Treasury Tax Advocacy Panel appointee
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I am a Commercial Diver and work offshore in the Gulf of Mexico

Customer Question

I am a Commercial Diver and work offshore in the Gulf of Mexico most of the year. I have heard that offshore workers get a tax break. Is this true and if so what do I do to receive these tax breaks?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Ed Johnson replied 5 years ago.

Dear mikkejohnson,


Thank you for your questin. I see no one has gotten to you yet.


Can you tell me more about your situation?


There are cetain tax considerations if a person is working beyond the continental shelf.


Many longshoremen, however abuse tax deductions by taking some that they believe they have. Many of those benefits are lore.


Can you tell me what you mean when you say you work offshore in the gulf of mexico?


Here is what I need to know:


1. Do you depart the continental shelf?


2. are you on an oil rig, fishing boat, etc?


3. How many days do you spend at sea, and how many days in a U.S. port?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Sometimes we work off the continental shelf

We work on various platforms oil rig, dive boat, barges, lift boats, jack ups

I worked offshore approx. 297 days in 2008. Length at sea varies from a couple days to a few months.

Expert:  Ed Johnson replied 5 years ago.

Dear XXXXXjohnson,


Thank you for your information.


Based on the information given, these are some of the tax deductions you would be entitled to:

First and foremost by being issued Certificates of Discharges or Letters of Service time; you qualify as a temporary employee.
Also, as a Merchant Mariner there are many tax write-offs available to you. Some of these write-offs include your daily per diem, transportation expenses (between your home and your business destination), and any other ordinary/necessary expenses incurred while you are away from home on business.

    Here are a few examples of write-offs available to transportation workers:
  • Uniforms (used only in employment)
  • Safety Equipment
  • Physical Exams (required by job)
  • Union Dues/Organization Dues (vacation dues)
  • Publications/Log books
  • Maps/Charts
  • Passports
  • Cab Fare/Bus Fare/Rental Cars
  • Phone calls/Cell Phone
  • Computer Software
  • Meals (DOT and Non-DOT hours)
  • Mileage (Standard Mileage Rate)
  • Job Search Expenses to Union Halls or Shipping Companies
    • Mileage Traveled
    • Lodging
    • Meals
  • Continuing Education Expenses
    • Mileage Traveled
    • Lodging
    • Meals
    • Tuition/Books/Supplies
  • Other (expenses incurred from the time you leave your residence until the time you return to your residence)

Special note about meals aboard ship. YOu may not deduct meals from aboard ship. This is lore and holds no truth.


YOu can get a helpful tax organizer form this website:



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Ed Johnson
Ed Johnson
Tax Professional
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GPHR Cert; U.S. Treasury Tax Advocacy Panel appointee