Some traveling workers losing money from tax reform

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Congressional Republicans passed sweeping tax reform in 2017 with the goal of putting money back in the pockets of hard-working Americans. 

Yet some workers who travel extensively for a living say they’re seeing major losses this tax season. 

Danny Woodby of Jonesborough said he’s been a traveling construction worker for 10 years and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “The jobs we do is what makes America push forward,” said Woodby. 

But the job comes with challenges. He said he spends an average of eight months per year on the road to feed his family. 

“It’s never easy when you’re leaving your kids, your family, your wife. It’s difficult when you just have a relationship through a telephone,” said Woodby. 

Now, Woodby said he may need to spend another month on the road to make ends meet. 

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, for the first time this tax season, workers like Woodby can’t deduct travel expenses, including mileage, motel and vehicle maintenance.

“Miscellaneous itemized deductions are gone,” said Travis McMurray, a partner at Blackburn Childers & Steagall in Johnson City. “There will be some folks that are paying more taxes this year. It won’t be a high percentage of them but there is the likelihood that some folks will see an additional tax from that.” 

Woodby expects to lose three thousand dollars this tax season. That’s why he started a petition to get the attention of Congress. It currently has over 800 signatures. 

“A lot of people are saying they can’t travel now. They can’t travel because they’re losing these deductions and that takes a lot of good hands out of places where we need hands like them,” said Woodby. “If they don’t travel, projects won’t get finished.” 

In a statement, Northeast Tennessee Congressman Phil Roe (R-D1), who voted in favor of the tax reform bill, said, in part, “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act replaced a number of itemized deductions with a nearly-doubled standard deduction, which has resulted in the overwhelming majority of taxpayers receiving a tax cut. Congressman Roe is sensitive to the fact that not all taxpayers benefit from these changes.” 

“We get forgotten all the time, ya know, the middle class traveling worker, construction worker, blue collar, we just get brushed aside,” said Woodby. 

Congressman Roe said he’s shared Woodby’s concerns with the tax-writing committee in hopes that they will be adressed by future legislation. 

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