Carnival of Personal Finance #112
A taxing vs. relaxing vacation

Tax court gives cold shoulder to Antarctic tax write-off

While much of the eastern half of the country bakes in a late-summer heat wave, many folks no doubt are dreaming of cooler places.

Frigid climes also have been the subject of tax fantasies, as some taxpayers have sought to use a cold locale as the basis for a tax break.

Remember the fellow who worked at McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica, and who tried to report his earnings there as foreign income (blogged here)? He was hoping to exclude that amount from his U.S. tax filing.

The Tax Court said no in that instance, and has again turned a cold shoulder to taxpayers in five similar cases. TaxProf has links to these latest decisions.

Closer to a hot home: If you're thousands of miles away from Antarctica and in the midst of brutally hot weather, the American Red Cross offers these tips on dealing with a heat wave:

  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning (4-to-7 a.m.).
  • Thermometer_hot Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Try to go to a public building with air conditioning each day for several hours. Remember, electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help sweat evaporate, which cools your body.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly and often. Your body needs water to keep cool.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heat's effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which dehydrates the body.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.
  • Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

And this Weather Channel video details how St. Louis, Mo., is handling the heat wave.

Better breathing tips: Making matters worse, particularly in urban locations, is that not only is it hot, but the air isn't all that good either. That means folks with respiratory ailments are really suffering.

One potential tax-related break for such folks: If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) at work and buy over-the-counter medications for your asthma or similar conditions, you can use your FSA funds for those purchases. The Tax Tip section of this previous post discusses the tax advantages of FSAs.

Georgia's Division of Air Quality has issued these precautions to help deal with hot, humid, unhealthy breathing conditions:

  • Limit daytime driving.
  • Limit vehicle idling.
  • Refuel vehicles after dusk.
  • Don't "top off" your gas tank.
  • Avoid congested periods.
  • Use water-based paints.
  • Use mass transit or car pool.
  • Bike or walk for short trips.
  • Use your newest or best maintained car.
  • Combine trips and share rides.
  • Postpone using gasoline mowers.
  • Barbecue without starter fluid.

You can check the air quality where you live via this Weather Channel link.

Stay cool and take care. And remember: We'll all be complaining about winter in a few months!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.