High School Teacher Can't Deduct Expenses of Solar Eclipse Research

Historical case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: Tax law, deductibility of research expenses by teacher.

Richard L. Feldman v. Commissioner. Tax law, deductibility of research expenses by teacher.

The taxpayer was employed as a high school physics teacher in Virginia. For many years, he had conducted research on a solar eclipse phenomenon known as shadow bands, and was known as an authority on the subject. In the summer of 1963, he made a trip to Maine to conduct research and incurred expenses of $137, which he deducted. The commissioner disallowed $134 of this amount, and the taxpayer appealed.

The tax court agreed that the deduction should be disallowed on the grounds that research projects were not a required condition of his employment as a high school teacher.

On appeal, the taxpayer cited an earlier Revenue Ruling in which research expenses were allowed for college and university professors, since such research duties were expected of the professor. But the Tax Court distinguished that ruling, since the taxpayer did not make any showing that the research was related in any way to teaching high school physics.

After addressing unrelated issues, the Tax Court upheld the Commissioner's ruling.

26 T.C.M. (CCH) 444, T.C. Memo. 1967-91 (U.S. Tax Court 1967).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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