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Thomas_G 03-06-2013 01:56 PM

Writing off Airstream to business
Hello everyone. I was curious if anyone writes off their Airstream as a business expense? Partial or full? We are going to be traveling in it full time and own our own business.

Also, did insurance have any issues if the Airstream was going to be used for business?


BAB 03-06-2013 02:05 PM

This is a question I would pose to my CPA. (I, too, own my own corporation, but am VERY cautious about crossing boundaries between personal and corporate expenses.) My home is my corporate headquarters and after computing the expenses to operate my residence, he computes the amount I'm allowed to reimburse myself for using my home. The insurance question should be posed to your insurance agent. Better to ask these questions up front than find yourselves behind the IRS' 8-ball. At least in CT you don't have to deal with the state tax people as well....

Dan and Liz 03-06-2013 08:50 PM


Interesting question! It seems to me that this would be inviting more possible trouble than any benefit would be worth. Reason?

I believe the same rules would apply here as for an Office in Home (OIH) in a fixed residence. That is, you would need to identify an area used “regularly and exclusively” for business administrative use or for meeting clients or customers in the normal course of business, or for storage of inventory or product samples if you’re a wholesaler or retailer.

“Regularly” means just that – not occasionally. And an “exclusive” business use area would be a pretty tall hurdle to clear in an AS in my opinion (and mighty hard to sell to an IRS auditor). If you could meet it, though, you could deduct (based on the percentage of business use) park fees (rent), propane (utilities), mortgage interest, property taxes, etc., as well as depreciating the business portion of the unit.

As far as the TV – I wouldn’t go there at all. If you’re full-timing, then your “tax home” is wherever you’re parked, so you’re never “away from home.” (Exception – you unhitch and go see a client or go to the office supply store. Or (aggressively) you might claim park fees while attending a business convention… )
But there’s nothing preventing you from claiming all the “ordinary and necessary” business expenses, including business meals and entertainment expenses, and if you itemize you still can deduct mortgage interest and property taxes on your “second home” (or first).

You might indeed want a business rider on your insurance to cover business assets and possibly customer liability if you meet them in the AS, but that’s a question for the insurance guy. If you did need a business rider, the premium would of course be a business expense.

Personally, I would probably decline to prepare a tax return for a client who insisted on claiming OIH expenses in an AS -- unless of course the unit had been modified for food service/catering or some other use that rendered it unsuitable as a residence. And the idea of doing business/earning money in multiple states with difference tax codes and all wanting their nickels – ouch!

Just my quick take on the question ...

Dan Hemphill EA

To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein.

alumawife 03-06-2013 08:56 PM

I asked my CPA this question recently, too. He said that the best option was for us to rent our airstream to our business either per trip or per month, but make sure we had it in writing and that it was a reasonable charge. I believe that this income is then taxable personally but at a lower rate. He said it would be up to the terms of the lease agreement between you and your business as to who covered what expenses such as insurance, maintenance, etc. It just needed to be documented in writing.

Dan and Liz 03-06-2013 09:40 PM

The business would have to be some other legal entity than you, and it would have to have a legitimate business need/use for the AS, not just tax avoidance. Else it's a sham transaction -- which is frowned upon. Don't know why the tax rate would be any lower -- rental income is taxed at ordinary rates.

alumawife 03-06-2013 10:10 PM

Dan - good point. Our business is an S-corp which I didn't clarify. Since my husband is a mobile RV technician, he needs to tow the Airstream along if he is working away from home for lodging and office space. So sometimes it is used for business and sometimes for pleasure. That must be why our CPA recommended a per trip rental agreement. My understanding is that it is a way to compensate us personally for the airstream wear and tear without increasing his salary draw from the business. Not sure that I have a full understanding of what our CPA meant by lower tax rate either? Is rental expense a lower tax rate than salary expense from the business perspective perhaps?

Jim Foster 03-06-2013 10:16 PM

I owned my own Snap-on Tool business for nearly 17 years. Owned the truck and the inventory. Used my home phone as the business phone. Did paper work in my home office. There were several other items which could be considered "business".

I never claimed any of my home as OIH, not the phone, nothing. I kept the truck expenses totally separate. I was always careful to keep all business expenses totally separate from any home expenses. Many times I used our 42' houseboat to entertain business associates, but never claimed any of that as business expense as we also used the boat for pleasure.

Why be so careful? I didn't want to spend any of my selling time trying to explain something to someone at the IRS who's job it is to get more of my money. That time could cost far more than the few dollars in taxes I may have saved.

That policy worked. Never got called for an audit. Everyone was "happy, happy, happy", especially me.

Dan and Liz 03-07-2013 06:59 AM


The treatment depends on all the facts and circumstances, and I can see now why your CPA recommended what he did.

And yes it might make a tax difference -- the rent the S-Corp pays you would be taxed as ordinary income, but if it helps reduce "reasonable compensation" (wages) to Alumahubby (?) then you could be saving on payroll taxes (SS and Medicare). So (an "aha" moment ...) it makes sense for you.


Thomas_G 03-11-2013 12:17 PM

Thank you for all the insights. Talked to CPA and he didn't think we could make it work without raising red flags. I do not want to raise any red flags, ha. Guess I will stick to mileage when using truck for business.

Thanks again!

damonbeals 03-11-2013 12:23 PM

Your RV also qualified as a second home and you can deduct the interest from your taxes.

Tax Deductions For RV Owners by @FunRVing The Fun Times Guide to RVing


Thomas_G 03-11-2013 12:32 PM


Originally Posted by damonbeals (Post 1271688)
Your RV also qualified as a second home and you can deduct the interest from your taxes.

Tax Deductions For RV Owners by @FunRVing The Fun Times Guide to RVing


What if it is a first home?

We are selling everything and going full time very soon.

Hmmm. I will have to look into this!

Thank you

BeachHouse 03-11-2013 01:46 PM

We have a friend that writes his off as a mobile office. And they do use it for that purpose occasionally. But as you probably know, if you write it off (depreciate it), when you go to sell, you have to pay capital gains and since Airstreams don't depreciate as fast as you could 'write it off', there will be tax due. We may use ours as a mobile office occasionally also. I think we will rent it to the business.

If you just deduct the interest as a first or second home, nothing comes back to get you. A bigger deduction now days would be to expense the fuel to haul it around.

wncrasher 03-11-2013 01:57 PM

Definately depends how you structure it.

As far as taxation goes, this is no different from if you traveled town to town and stayed in hotels. The travel expenses, lodgings, meals & incidentals are all deductible. Your RV expense is the same treatment. You are deducting it as lodgings expense, not as an office or workplace. Your accountant should understand this. Lodgings expense does not through up "red flags". Home office deductions do. Also keep in mind, lodgings, meals and incidentals cannot exceed the values for a location shown in the CONUS tables. These are the federal reimbursement per diem guidelines - something else your accountant should know about.

As far as insurance goes, you are using this as lodgings - not ferrying passengers or having the public sit in your RV. What complicates matters is if you rent the RV to your business or have signage for your business on your RV. Then you may need a commercial policy, which can be quite expensive. If you are just traveling in your RV, and then going out in your truck to do the repairs, then I would just keep a regular policy on your RV.

If you decide to rent your RV to your business, here's what I would do.
Set up an LLC called "RV Rental". Transfer ownership of the RV to the LLC. The LLC can then depreciate the value of the RV over 3-5 years to offset the rental income. Insurance and maintenance costs could also be deducted. All this to hopefully balance offset the rental income.

Deduct the rental expense from your primary business. The downside with this strategy is you really need to turn-over the RV to a new one by the time you'd have to start paying taxes on the rental income. If then you trade, there would be no capital gains, because you are incurring additional expense (a new or different RV). If you just liquidate the RV, then you may have a gain from that sale because you had taken the depreciation. Didn't your accountant explain something like this?

Good luck with the tax man!

hollyhunter 10-12-2014 09:50 PM

Yes we deduct the expense of traveling in our AS to promote our campground.

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J. Morgan 10-12-2014 10:26 PM

Writing off Airstream to business
It is doubtful that the entire trailer could be written off as an expense unless it was exclusively used by the business, but a reasonable per diem for each day it is used, (instead of a hotel) in the service of your business is legitimate and reasonable.

Gary W Wong 10-12-2014 10:53 PM

I purchased my airstream for business for I am an architect and park it on the job site for a project. I use it for other uses also but it is considered the construction trailer. I plan to add graphics like company logo to the airstream soon to advertise my business also. It will be parked on a major thoroughfare where it will be seen by stop and go traffic.

My accountant was fine with the definition of the construction trailer and when not in use for that it is stored in indoor storage which is written off.

Of course, there are the camping trips and vacations that we go on but not very often.

It is written off as a business expense and items we purchase for it we write off. I bring the airstream to clients in the future and provide a promotional event where we will advertise my company and we purchased a portable BBQ and accessories for the event.

Always clear it with your accountant as I have each step.

I did not think about the travel and lodging concept and I can use that as part of the write offs also now.

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BoldAdventure 10-13-2014 08:48 AM

I don't own my Airstream. It's in an LLC, which is registered to my business, which is owned by another LLC which is owned by a Trust.

You figure it out.

Can you deduct it? Maybe if you have a good business plan that involves your Airstream. I kind of put something together that is going to allow me to deduct almost all of our travel expenses.

A lawyer, a CPA and some books are your friends. I find the opinions on the internet to be varied in regards to this. Average people just seem to enjoy over paying taxes and living in ignorance of the tax code.

SheBop 01-02-2017 11:15 PM

I'm interested in writing it off, if possible, as living quarters. I am a full time traveling medical professional who is sick of extended stay hotels and corporate housing. I am not trying to manipulate. The system for a write off, I literally would be relying on the airstream as a residence that is portable.

Currently I receive a housing stipend. From my understanding, if my monthly rental expenses exceed the stipend amount, I should be able to deduct the difference, correct?

TexAirS 01-31-2017 10:24 PM

You can write off the travel expenses. That's over and above the stipend. Interest as a first or second home on Schedule A. Home office, not unless it is regular and exclusive use. There is a simple calculation for home office for a couple years. Read the home office rules about home office at


tjdonahoe 02-01-2017 05:05 AM

Best to discuss with a cpa..

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