Tomorrow I’ll have my first guest blog post ever

In the 5+ years I’ve written this blog, I’ve never had a guest post (at least not one that I can remember). This isn’t a coincidence — it’s because my approach to blogging is that you probably read my site because you want to read what I have to say, and not because you’d like a stranger’s perspective on travel (there are forums for that) or want to see how much an English major can fluff up my writing (though I realize at times I’m in dire need of an editor!). Certainly nothing against blogs that do take that approach, but it just isn’t my style, because I figure you guys ain’t got no time for that. On a mildly unrelated note, has everyone seen Sweet Brown’s new commercial endorsement? How awesome is that?

Anyway, with that out of the way, it is tax season and a friend of mine is a tax attorney and CPA, and he offered to write a series about how to make travel less taxing (get it? har har…). The reality is that I’ve found myself asking him dozens of travel related tax questions, and since I assume a vast majority of you travel at least semi-frequently for work, I hope others can benefit from his insight as well. Hell, sometimes I even get questions on the blog asking me for tax advice, and I’m probably the least qualified person out there to ask, so hopefully Scott will be able to answer all your questions over the coming weeks.

He’ll be writing an eight part series, which will be published every Tuesday morning. The last post will be titled “Ask Scott,” so you can get answers to any questions not covered in the series.

In the interest of full disclosure there’s no money changing hands with these posts — I’m not paying him to write them, and he’s not paying for me to feature them on the blog. My hope is that it’s mutually beneficial, and that he can decode the Gibberish which is the US tax code for us as far as travel goes.

Stay tuned till 10AM eastern tomorrow for the first post! And while I’m learning from other blogs, stay tuned for next week’s trip report, in which I’ll appear in every picture!


  1. Cool! I am already looking forward to the Ask Scott post, so I can ask him all about what I can take as deductions when I go to visit my investment property in another state (which also happens to be in a state that I love to visit!)

  2. Scott –

    Travelling for business, sometimes will spend 5 – 10% of my working year hours in a different state than my home state.

    At what threshold am I required to pay taxes in a state that I spend a lot of my time working in?



  3. The best kind of guest post. I’ve accepted a few, but I try to stick to topics other people know and I don’t. I guess taxes (and the best airport bars) are the only two travel topics Lucky doesn’t know 😀

  4. Glad to hear there is some interest in the series and thanks for the initial questions! My goal is for the series to answer most of the commonly-asked questions on each topic as it unfolds. But, for those questions that don’t fit neatly within the topic of business travel, I’ll address them in the Ask Scott post Ben mentioned.

  5. Thanks Ben. This will be very valuable to your readers. Also I hadn’t heard about Sweet Brown’s new gig, so thanks for the clip! 🙂

  6. Very interesting to see. Especially as you have lived in two states with no income tax (FL and WA). Also, at this point I’m assuming you can write off all of your travel expenses as pre-tax business expenses–if not you certainly should be–so the prices you post for flights, hotels, etc. are all pre-tax pre-income prices, and are therefore lower on a relative basis than what most of your readers would have to pay in the same situation.

  7. Great idea! Very excited to see something about tax reductions for days you aren’t working in the country. I have a foreign tax credit that I’m carrying forward and it’s pretty complicated.

  8. I can ignore Alex’s comments with ease. But I can’t ignore yours, Lucky. Please tell us that this “guest blogger” idea will not become status quo.

    I used to have a favorite blog and it wasn’t this one (actually I started following you a bit later). That blog was bought by some company and then more and more – the original blogger started using other people to fill the page on a daily basis. It lost all of its identity and (in my estimation) what truly made that blog unique and original. Now – it even uses random Flyertalkers to fill up bytes. Sadly, this person (to this day) seems to have no idea that his unique gift to us is now tarnished. His blog has become some sort of “hodgepodge” of links and random personalities, and in the process it has lost just about everything that once made it so special.

    Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not knocking your idea. I’m just saying that YOUR blog has it’s own personality. People “tune-in” daily to see a small window of Ben’s world. That is the main reason we keep coming back for more.

    The eyes are the window to the soul. And your blog is the window – to what we see – about you. Please don’t ever take that for granted.

  9. Scott – I’m a passive rental property investor. If I pay the associated property taxes with a credit card, are there any problems deducting the Official Payments 2.5% (or equivalent) fee as a rental expense on Schedule E? (If that’s OK, net after tax cost to me is around 1.5%, which makes the fee well worth paying for Starwood Amex.)

  10. Wow–most times these odd commercials seem to happen in some random place. Immediately recognized the area code as Tulsa, where most of my relatives live.

  11. Nice! Off topic, but how do you go about billing your employer to get reimbursed if you book a trip w/ miles?

  12. @ no-trick — Totally agree, and that’s the whole reason behind this post. Like I said, this is a one off thing, as I’m not short on content otherwise.

  13. @no-trick, let me guess, Frugal travel guy? That blog is now very irrelevant. No need to waste your time “reading” it.

  14. What is te cut-off for making a trip tax deductible if you blog about it?!

    I do a return flight, come back same day, don’t leave the airport, review the flight – I reckon 100 per cent deductible as totally blog related trip.

    I fly somewhere, stay 1 night (shop, do a museum), return next day, blog the flight (not necessarly hotel) – probably still 100 per cent on both flight and hotel? Staying overnight is not unreasonable and often a same day return not possible anyway.

    But I stay 3 nights away … then it is clearly a holiday. Could I still write off 100 per cent of the flight cost if I review it? Could I write off part of the hotel if I review it?

  15. @Sean M – No, there won’t be any fuel dumps mentioned; I’ll stick with income tax. Both tax and fuel dumps involve people speaking in code, though. 🙂

    @Matt – I’ll cover travel expenses that you may incur in foreign travel; however, just due to space limits, I won’t have room to cover the foreign tax credit in the series. But, if you’d like to ask me your specific question, please feel free to send me a tweet.

  16. @UAPhil – The fees paid to Official Payments or any other credit card processor who accepts tax payments on behalf of the Federal government are deductible as a miscellaneous itemized deduction subject to a 2% of income limitation. Those are listed on Schedule A – Itemized Deductions, Line 23 – Other Expenses, which in effect, means most taxpayers will receive no tax benefit from the fees, because only the amount you incur ABOVE the threshold level of 2% of your income is deductible and then only if you itemize deductions.

    You asked a different question, though, about property taxes, for an investment property, which you record on Schedule E. The answer to your question will require a little research based on the facts and circumstances of your business. Send me a tweet, and we can discuss it off a public forum.

  17. @webazoid – I love this question! It raises a number of interesting questions, chief among them is “what’s a mile worth?” Answering that question with any specificity is above my pay grade, but certainly the topic has been discussed and debated many times.

    The short answer I’d give you is to show your employer other measures of what those miles are worth to give them an objective basis for reimbursing you. We know that Ultimate Rewards are worth a minimum of 1 cent, because you can redeem them for cash back anytime for that (although I and others certainly value them at more than 1 cent).

  18. @Raffles – you are among several readers who are interested in the travel expense deductions bloggers can take. My goal is to make these posts broadly applicable beyond the travel blogging business community, but I expect to cover most of what you’ve asked in future posts.

    Keep in mind, too, that Internal Revenue Code Section 183, otherwise known as the hobby loss rule, disallows deductions for items that are not engaged in for a profit. Showing a profit in at least 3 of the last 5 tax years is one way to prove that the business is engaged in for a profit and is not a hobby. To read more, check out this IRS link:

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