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You are correct there are certain rules for Railroad conductors. You can deduct a higher percentage of your meal expenses while traveling away from your tax home if the meals take place during or incident to any period subject to the Department of Transportation's "hours of service" limits. Certain railroad employees (such as engineers, conductors, train crews, dispatchers, and control operations personnel) who are under Federal Railroad Administration regulations are allowed the higher amount. You can deduct 80% of your business-related meal expenses if you consume the meals during or incident to any period subject to the Department of Transportation's "hours of service" limits. You apply this 80% limit before you apply the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit on the Schedule A.
The meals portion of the expenses is the main difference for you. The other expenses are still the ones that you must have to do your job and you are not reimbursed for.
An expense is necessary if it is appropriate and helpful to your employment. An expense does not have to be required to be considered necessary.
You can deduct the cost of protective clothing required in your work, such as safety shoes or boots (2 pair a year), safety glasses, hard hats, and work gloves.
Your watch is required so it would be a deduction but not the haircuts (even if your boss says no long hair). The socks if they are part of the required uniform would be allowed.
Some examples of deductible expenses include:
- Union Dues
- Travel (hotel, airfare, etc.) and transportation costs (cab fare, tolls, parking, etc.) other than for commuting to and from work.
- Uniforms, but only if they are NOT suitable for everyday use and necessary for your work. Examples include firefighter and police officer uniforms. Also, if you are paid a clothing allowance (e.g. full time military), then you cannot deduct the cost of a uniform.
- Business entertainment and gifts, but these have certain limits.
- Computers and cell phones if required for your job and for the convenience of your employer.
- Home office expenses if your employer does not provide you a place to work.
I sincerely ***** ***** information is more helpful but there really is not an IRS list for railroad conductors, just the rules that would apply and the special situations for transportation workers (like you).
CLICK HERE for a breakdown on how you are entitled to deduct your meals expenses. There are two ways to choose from. In one instance there is a straight standard deduction, which doesn't have as stringent of a reporting requirement and is typically favored by those in your situation. However, to qualify for the straight deduction you have to have 8 hours away from your home terminal. This sheet also has some extra deductions and entitlements for you,
You could also deduct the cost of a computer used for business purposes, as many railroads require you to have computer access. This is outlined on the flyer as well.
You can also CLICK HERE to read IRS publication 17, which relates to employee business expenses.
To deduct your shoes, they must be shoes that are not suitable for every day wear - in other words, work boots. If you must have a watch, I would caution you to choose a very inexpensive watch, or an industry specific watch. In other words, I wouldn't try to write off a Rolex.
I hope these resources help you in greater detail. Please feel free to follow up if you need additional guidance.