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Lev, Tax Advisor
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Experience:  Taxes, Immigration, Labor Relations
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I have a question about being paid per diem in a contracting

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I have a question about being paid per diem in a contracting situation. Currently I am living away from my tax home while I start work in a contracting position in another city. The odd part of the situation is I am living in a second home of mine that I happen to have in the city I've relocated to. My primary residence is still remote. I realize that per diem is designed to compensate for expenses for hotels, food & gas. The question is do any of these apply given my living situation and if so to what extent?

If you are paid for your services - it doesn't matter how your compensation is determined - all should be included into your gross compensation.


The situation when your travel away from your tax home might be deductible - if that is a temporary work assignment. See IRS publication 463 -

If your assignment or job away from your main place of work is temporary, your tax home does not change. You are considered to be away from home for the whole period you are away from your main place of work. You can deduct your travel expenses if they otherwise qualify for deduction. Generally, a temporary assignment in a single location is one that is realistically expected to last (and does in fact last) for 1 year or less.

However, if your assignment or job is indefinite, the location of the assignment or job becomes your new tax home and you cannot deduct your travel expenses while there. An assignment or job in a single location is considered indefinite if it is realistically expected to last for more than 1 year, whether or not it actually lasts for more than one year.

Determining temporary or indefinite. You must determine whether your assignment is temporary or indefinite when you start work. If you expect an assignment or job to last for one year or less, it is temporary unless there are facts and circumstances that indicate otherwise. An assignment or job that is initially temporary may become indefinite due to changed circumstances. A series of assignments to the same location, all for short periods but that together cover a long period, may be considered an indefinite assignment.


If that is a temporary assignment - travel expenses are deductible.

You can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses you have when you travel away from home on business. This table summarizes travel expenses you may be able to deduct.



You generally might deduct transportation expenses to and from your assignment, lodging and daily meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) - per diem.


Please see for reference IRS publication 17 -

Amount of standard meal allowance. The standard meal allowance is the federal M&IE rate. For travel in 2009, the rate for most small localities in the United States is $39 a day for the period from January 1 through September 30, 2009, and $46 a day for the period October 1 through December 31, 2009.

Most major cities and many other localities in the United States are designated as high-cost areas, qualifying for higher standard meal allowances. Locations qualifying for these rates are listed in Publication 1542 -


You may not use per diem for lodging - you may deduct only your actual expenses.


Let me know if you need any help.



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